Galleria Borghese logo
Search results for
No results :(

Hints for your search:

  • Search engine results update instantly as soon as you change your search key.
  • If you have entered more than one word, try to simplify the search by writing only one, later you can add other words to filter the results.
  • Omit words with less than 3 characters, as well as common words like "the", "of", "from", as they will not be included in the search.
  • You don't need to enter accents or capitalization.
  • The search for words, even if partially written, will also include the different variants existing in the database.
  • If your search yields no results, try typing just the first few characters of a word to see if it exists in the database.


Grazia Leonardo called Leonardo da Pistoia

(Pistoia 1503 - Naples post 1548)

Sources and critics of the past variously attributed this work to Giulio Romano, Sodoma and Baldassarre Peruzzi; recently, however, it has been recognised as by the hand of Leonardo Grazia, the painter from Pistoia who was active in the mid-1500s in Tuscany, Rome and Naples. It depicts Venus, the goddess of beauty, whose face is tinged with a subtly melancholic sweetness. The smooth, sinuous figure of the deity stands out against a dark background, which highlights the alabaster coldness of her body.


Object details

quarto decennio del XVI secolo
tempera on panel
cm 97 x 75

Salvator Rosa (124,4 x 104,8 x 9 cm)


Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room VI, no. 5); Inv. 1790, room VI, no. 4; Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 24; Purchased by Italian state, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903/05 - Luigi Bartolucci (disinfestazione dai tarli)
  • 1953/54 - Gilda Diotallevi, Alvaro Esposti, pulitura, stuccatura e ripresa pittorica;
  • 1966 - Alvaro Esposti, fissaggio del colore, ripresa pittorica delle piccole cadute di colore;
  • 1985 - Paola Sannucci (fissaggio della pellicola pittorica);
  • 2004/05 - Vera Santodonato, riempimento dei cedimenti del supporto, rimozione stuccature, rimozione basi a tempera e ritocchi, reintegrazione ad acquerello e verniciatura.


The provenance of this work is still unknown. It was first documented in the Borghese Collection in 1693, when it was described as ‘a nude woman with her hand between her thighs, at number 684, engraved gilded frame, by Raphael of Urbino’ (Inv. 1693). The attribution was changed in 1790 in favour of Giulio Romano (Inv. 1790; see Platner 1842) and was also rejected by Gustavo Frizzoni, who proposed the name of the Sienese painter Baldassare Peruzzi (Frizzoni 1869). Critics of the following decades concurred with this idea (Morelli 1897; Venturi 1893; Borenius 1914; Longhi 1928). It was supported in particular by William Winthrop Kent (1925), who included the work in his monograph on Peruzzi, dating it to his Roman period, which he called his ‘second style’.

The first scholar to call this attribution into question was Noella de Cataldo (1930), who included this Venus among the works which were mistakenly ascribed to the Sienese artist. Her contention, however, did not persuade critics, including Bernard Berenson (1936) and Paola della Pergola (1959), who confidently attributed it to Baldassare. Their opinion was in turn confirmed by Kristina Herrmann Fiore (2006).

Another dissenter was Pierluigi Leone de Castris, who in 1988 suggested the name of the Leonardo Grazia of Pistoia, situating the work in the painter’s Roman period, together with two other works in the Borghese Collection, Lucretia (inv. no. 75) and Cleopatra (inv. no. 337). His theory was confirmed by Andrea G. de Marchi (1994; and in Pietra dipinta 2000) and more recently by Michela Corso (2018a; 2018b); it is also supported by the present writer. The painting in fact reveals the same idioms evident in other works by the Tuscan artist, which prove his adherence to the styles of Raphael, Giulio Romano and Parmigianino. His personal synthesis, which he developed between Tuscany, Rome and Naples, informed the representations of his heroines, including this Venus, which is characterised by smooth, sinuous forms and a gaze that expresses a subtle melancholic sweetness.

Antonio Iommelli

  • E. e C. Platner, Beschreibung der Stadt Rom, III, Stuttgart 1842, p. 292;
  • G. Frizzoni, Delle Pitture di Baldassarre Peruzzi e del giudizio portatone dal Sig. Cavalcaselle, in “Il Buonarroti”, 4-II, 1869, p. 39;
  • G. Frizzoni, L’Arte Italiana del Rinascimento, Milano 1891, pp. 215-216;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1891, p. 320;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 80;
  • G. Morelli, Della Pittura Italiana. Studi Storici Critici: Le Gallerie Borghese e Doria Pamphili in Roma, Milano 1897, pp. 131-133;
  • J. A. Rusconi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Bergamo 1906, p. 35;
  • B. Borenius, in J.A. Crowe, G.B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, VI, London 1914, p. 29 (nota);
  • W. W. Winthrop Kent, The Life and Works of Baldassare Peruzzi of Siena, New York 1925, p. 79;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 186;
  • N. De Cataldo, Baldassarre Peruzzi Pittore, Roma 1930, pp. 57-58;
  • B. Berenson, Pitture Italiane del Rinascimento, Milano 1936, p. 379;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, pp. 43-44, n. 60;
  • B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance-Central Italian and North Italian Schools, London 1968, p. 334;
  • E. Bénezit, Dictionaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs, Paris 1976, p. 244;
  • R. Wiecker, Wilhelm Heinses Beschreibung romischer Kunstschatze Palazzo Borghese – Villa Borghese, (1781-83), Kopenhagen 1977;
  • P. Leone de Castris, La pittura del Cinquecento nell'Italia meridionale, in La Pittura in Italia. Il Cinquecento, Milano 1988, p. 443;
  • A. G. De Marchi, Dipinti e sculture dal XIV al XIX secolo, Galleria Gilberto Zabert, Torino 1994, cat. n. 5;
  • P. Leone de Castris, Pittura del Cinquecento a Napoli: 1540 – 1573: fasto e devozione, Napoli 1996, p. 86;
  • A. G. De Marchi, in Pietra dipinta: tesori nascosti del '500 e del '600 da una collezione privata milanese, catalogo della mostra (Milano, 2000-2001), a cura di M. Bona Castellotti, Milano 2000, pp. 60-61, n. 24;
  • 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. 35;
  • A. G. De Marchi, a cura di, Daniele da Volterra e la prima pietra del 'Paragone', Roma 2014, p. 36 nota 11;
  • M. Corso (a), Le opere e i giorni di Leonardo Grazia da Pistoia tra Lucca, Roma e Napoli, in "Proporzioni", I, 2018, pp. 56, 67 nota 100;
  • M. Corso (b), Eros e Thanatos, Virtus e Voluptas. Leonardo Grazia da Pistoia e i dipinti dedicati a Lucrezia, in L'Autunno della Maniera. Studi sulla pittura del Tardo Cinquecento a Roma, a cura di M. Corso, A. Ulisse, Roma 2018, pp. 23, 25.