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Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, c.1474/78 by Leonardo da Vinci

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The influence of Flemish style and pictorial forms, which may be seen in Leonardo's Madonna with the Carnation and in his later Adoration of the Magi is seen at its most striking in the Portrait of Ginevra de'Benci. This portrait is the first fixed point of reference in the ceuvre of Leonardo the painter: it is the earliest extant work for which we have reliable documentation and information. Much more than his religious paintings so far, it breaks away from the pictorial conventions of the Verrocchio workshop - not least in the fact that it is his first secular painting. The most remarkable feature of this small portrait is the closely packed distribution of the pictorial space. The young woman, Ginevra de'Benci, close to the front edge of the picture, is sitting in front of a juniper bush, which seems to surround her head like a wreath and obliterates a large part of the background. Comparable 'close-ups' were already to be found in Flemish portraits, as first painted by Jan van Eyck a generation earlier and popularised by Hans Memling. Similarly, the format - cut off at the lower edge - and the very natural appearance of the juniper plus the position of the figure are all reminiscent of earlier Flemish portraits. The young woman's upper body, virtually diagonal to the picture surface, contrasts with her head which is turned almost completely towards the viewer, with the result that - despite her rather listless expression -she does radiate a certain dynamism. It is perhaps worth noting that Ginevra's interesting pallor is not determined by artistic considerations but a symptom of a sickly constitution as some sources would have it.
The juniper in the middle-ground indubitably dominates the portrait of Ginevra and is more than an ornamental accessory, for - like certain other plants - the juniper was a symbol of female virtue. Furthermore, the Italian name 'ginepro' was not unrelated to the name of the sitter, Ginevra. There is a complex sequel to these allusions on the reverse of the portrait which is, unusually, also painted. There, on imitation red porphyry marble, we see laurel, juniper and palm branches linked to each other by a swirling garland with the words VIRTUTEM FORMA DECORAT: 'Beauty adorns Virtue'. The inscription, the plant-attributes and the painted marble all underline the connection between beauty and virtue. With its imitation of red, immensely durable porphyry marble - in itself a remarkable substance - the reverse of the portrait speaks of the resilience of Ginevra's virtue. The laurel branches and palm fronds, framing the garland with its inscription, are associated with Bernardo Bembo who commissioned the painting, for both featured in his own personal arms. The juniper in the centre, growing from the garland, is yet another allusion to Ginevra's name and the virtues of chastity and faithfulness. At the same time the evergreen laurel points to Ginevra's aspirations as a poet, which we know of from Bembo and other writers. The palm frond, too, is a traditional symbol of virtue. The inscription VIRTUTEM FORMA DECORAT, so closely intertwined with the plants as symbols of virtue, makes the connection between beauty and virtue, which was a topos of contemporary literature reflected here on the front of this portrait, where Ginevra's gentle beau*y is also to be understood as an expression of her virtue. The front and the reverse of this portrait could hardly be linked more closely.
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Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, c.1474/78 | Leonardo da Vinci | Painting Reproduction

Painting Title:

Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci, c.1474/78


Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)


National Gallery of Art Washington USA

Original Size:

38.8 x 36.7 cm


Painting Reproduction completely hand-painted with oil on blank linen canvas.

Creation Time:

Your Leonardo da Vinci Hand-Painted Art Reproduction must not be rushed as it need time for reaching the high quality and precision and also for getting dry. Depending of the complexity and the details of the painting, we need of several weeks for creation of the painting.


We not frame oil painting reproductions. The Hand-Painted Art Reproduction is expensive product and the risk of damages during transport of stretched on a frame painting is too high. "Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci" by da Vinci is unframed and will be shipped rolled up in postal tube.
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