To love a painting is to feel that this presence is… not an object but a voice.

~ Andre Malraux ~


Ginevra de’ Benci 


Leonardo da Vinci 

I will admit, it was the master and the not the subject, responsible for my detour, to photograph this piece; how could I forgo the opportunity to see Leonardo da Vinci’s work. However, once I saw her, I too was quite taken with her beauty, and utterly amazed at the access given us by the National Gallery.

“Ginevra de’ Benci is a portrait painting by Leonardo da Vinci of the 15th-century Florentine aristocrat Ginevra de’ Benci (born c.  1458).[1] The oil-on-wood portrait was acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1967. The sum of US$5 million—an absolute record price at the time—came from the Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund and was paid to the Princely House of Liechtenstein. It is the only painting by Leonardo on public view in the Americas.”


Something new to me, another painting on the back of the portrait.

“The painting’s reverse side, Wreath of Laurel, Palm, and Juniper with a Scroll inscribed Virtutem Forma Decorat [reverse], is an image of Ginevra’s emblem or impresa and offers another kind of “portrait.” The central juniper, ginepro in Italian, a cognate of Ginevra’s name and thus her symbol, also represents chastity. The palm (right) stands for moral virtue, while the laurel (left) indicated artistic or literary inclinations. Palm and laurel also appear in Bembo’s emblem, and infrared examination of the painting’s layers has also revealed Bembo’s motto, Virtus et honor (virtue and honor), painted beneath Ginevra’s scrolling motto which encircles all three elements and means ‘Beauty adorns virtue.’” 

Art can never exist without naked beauty displaced.

~ William Blake ~

One Response to Art

  1. Marcial on November 7, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Thanks Jill! Quite interesting.

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