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Portrait of a Woman (Vannozza Cattanei ?)

Francucci Innocenzo called Innocenzo da Imola

(Imola 1488 - Bologna c. 1545)

Dating to the 1520s, this painting has been attributed to Innocenzo Francucci da Imola. It depicts an elegantly attired woman, traditionally identified as Vannozza Cattanei (1442-1518), lover of Rodrigo Borgia – who would go on to become Pope Alexander VI – and mother of Lucrezia, Giovanni, Goffredo and Cesare, known as Valentino. The woman wears an elaborate dress and a long gold necklace, which together with other jewels – a pearl bracelet and two small rings – give expression to her well-heeled condition.

Object details

third decade of the 16th century
oil on panel
83 x 62 cm

Salvator Rosa, 97.5 x 77 x 7 cm


Rome, Borghese Collection 1833 (Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 36); purchased by Italian state, 1902.

  • 1951 Imola, IV centerario della morte di Innocenzo da Imola
  • 1984 Roma, Palazzo Venezia
  • 2000-01 Valencia, Museo del Bellas Artes
  • 2001 Roma, Palazzo Memmo
  • 2002-2003 Roma, Palazzo Ruspoli
  • 2014-2015 Parigi, Museo Maillol
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903-05 Luigi Bartolucci;
  • 1911 Renato Barone;
  • 1950 Augusto Cecconi Principi;
  • 1977-79 Gianluigi Colalucci.


The provenance of this painting is still unknown. It was only first documented in connection with the Borghese Collection in the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario, where it is described as by ‘the school of Garofalo’. Later critics, however, challenged this attribution: while Giovanni Morelli (see Venturi 1893) and Alberto Serafini (1915) proposed the name of Girolamo da Carpi, Adolfo Venturi (1893) recognised the hand of Innocenzo Francucci, the painter from Imola who trained in Bologna and Florence next to Francesco Francia and Mariotto Albertinelli. Subsequent critics, including Paola della Pergola (1955), accepted this attribution; most recently it was confirmed by Claudio Strinati (2014).

According to critics, the painting should be dated to roughly the 1520s, the years in which Francucci’s production showed conspicuous similarities with that of Raphael. As Claudio Strinati proposed in the catalogue of the Borgia exhibition (Strinati 2014), it is further possible that the artist drew inspiration from an older work depicting the same subject, which Lucrezia Borgia took to Ferrara; in this scholar’s opinion, this other painting had the effect of counterbalancing the influence of Raphael, allowing Francucci to develop his own dry, formulaic style.

Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1891, p. 153;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 199;
  • A. Serafini, Girolamo da Carpi, Roma 1915, pp. 26, 28, 435;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 218;
  • R. Buscaroli, Innocenzo da Imola, in Il Comune di Bologna, 1929, p. 11;
  • R. Buscaroli, La Pittura romagnola del Quattrocento, Faenza 1931, p. 420;
  • R. Pallucchini, I dipinti della Galleria Estense, Roma 1944, p. 346;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, Roma 1951, p. 36;
  • Catalogo della Mostra di Innocenzo Francucci ad Imola, Imola 1951, pp. 11, 20;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 51;
  • A. Mezzetti, Girolamo da Ferrara detto da Carpi, Milano 1977, p. 99;
  • C. Strinati, in Aspetti dell'arte a Roma prima e dopo Raffaello, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Palazzo Venezia, 1984), Roma 1984, pp. 52-53, n. 10;
  • M. Menotti, X. Company, Los Borjas, Valencia 1992;
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 249;
  • S. Pedrocchi, in I Borgia, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Fondazione Memmo, 2002-2003), a cura di C. Alfano, Roma-Milano 2002, n. I.19, pp. 74-75,
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 137;
  • C. Strinati, in Les Borgia et leur temps, catalogo della mostra (Paris, Musée Maillol, 2014-2015), a cura di C. Strinati, Paris 2014, pp. 68-68