A fragment from an altarpiece, this picture shows the early Christian martyr Justina in the guise of an elegantly dressed contemporary of the artist, thereby overlapping an ideal image of a saint with the conventions of portraiture. This is not surprising, for by the 1490s it was not uncommon to have yourself depicted as your patron saint. The palm branch and the sword piercing her breast are the saint's traditional attributes. In 1469 Montagna was associated with Giovanni Bellini; he went on to become the principal painter in Vicenza.
Robert Graham, London; his nephew, William Graham, London (by 1882–d. 1885; inv., 1882, no. 384, as "Portrait of a Lady," by Ghirlandaio; his estate sale, Christie's, London, April 9, 1886, no. 355, for 230 gns. to Murray); [Charles Fairfax Murray, London, from 1886]; Oscar Hainauer, Berlin (until d. 1894; cat., 1897, no. 46, as "Portrait of a Lady of rank, as the holy Bibiana," by Lorenzo Costa); his widow, Frau Julie Hainauer, Berlin (1894–1906); [Duveen, New York, 1906–7]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1907–d. 1913)
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Catalogue of Pictures, Ancient and Modern, 35 Grosvenor Place. 1882, no. 384 [see Ref. Garnett 1982], as "Portrait of a Lady," by Ghirlandaio.
Ulrich Thieme inDie Sammlung Oscar Hainauer. Ed. Wilhelm Bode. Berlin, 1897, pp. 15, 67, no. 46 [English ed., London, 1906], as "Portrait of a Lady of rank, as the holy Bibiana," by Lorenzo Costa; dates it about 1520.
Bernard Berenson. Venetian Painting in America: The Fifteenth Century. New York, 1916, pp. 183–84, fig. 76 [reprinted in "Looking at Pictures with Bernard Berenson," New York, 1974, pp. 258–59, ill.], attributes it to Montagna and dates it 1504–6; calls it a portrait of a lady as Saint Justina of Padua.
Bernardo Berenson. Dipinti veneziani in America. Milan, 1919, p. 176 [see Ref. Zeri and Gardner 1986].
Roberto de Suarez. Bartolommeo Montagna. Florence, 1921, fig. 38, as a portrait of an unknown woman.
François Monod. "La galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (September–October 1923), p. 191, calls it a portrait of a woman as Saint Justina.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 368, lists it as "Portrait of a Lady as Bibiana," a late work by Montagna.
Lionello Venturi. Italian Paintings in America. Vol. 2, Fifteenth Century Renaissance. New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 415, notes that it is not certain that it is a portrait; identifies the saint as Justina; dates it to the first decade of the sixteenth century.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 316.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 136–37, ill., notes that it was "formerly attributed by the Museum to Lorenzo Costa and entitled Santa Bibiana".
Ruth Wedgwood Kennedy. "Review of Wehle 1940." Art Bulletin 24 (June 1942), p. 196, calls the costume Milanese, or possibly Florentine, and datable to the 1490s.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School. London, 1957, vol. 1, p. 116.
Giovanni Mariacher. Il Museo Correr di Venezia: dipinti dal XIV al XVI secolo. Venice, 1957, p. 119, under no. 40, identifies the saint as Justina.
Lionello Puppi. Bartolomeo Montagna. Venice, 1962, pp. 51–52, 114, fig. 85, calls it a portrait of a lady with the attributes of Saint Justina; dates it about 1492–94.
Everett Fahy. Memo to Hubert von Sonnenberg. April 14, 1972, notes that it a fragment from an altarpiece, not a portrait.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 143, 421, 606.
Oliver Garnett. Letter to Sir John Pope-Hennessy. September 27, 1982, notes that it is included in an unpublished inventory of the collection of William Graham of 1882 and gives additional provenance information.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School. New York, 1986, p. 42, pl. 28, note that it has been cropped at top and bottom, which may indicate that it is a fragment from an altarpiece, and that "there is no apparent basis for the common belief that it is a portrait"; add that the costume and coiffure indicate a date in the 1490s.
Kai-Uwe Nielsen. "Bartolomeo Montagna und die venezianische Malerei des späten Quattrocento." PhD diss., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, 1995, p. 138, no. 40.
Oliver Garnett. "The Letters and Collection of William Graham—Pre-Raphaelite Patron and Pre-Raphael Collector." Walpole Society 62 (2000), p. 325, no. d212, fig. 194.
Mauro Lucco. Bartolomeo Cincani detto Montagna: Dipinti. [Treviso], 2014, p. 78, ill. p. 239 (color).
Giovanni C. F. Villa in Mauro Lucco. Bartolomeo Cincani detto Montagna: Dipinti. [Treviso], 2014, pp. 356–57, no. 70, ill.