Trained in Milan, Ambrogio de Predis was associated after 1483 with Leonardo da Vinci, with whom he collaborated. The careful study of the positions of the hands and the enigmatic, slight smile both come from Leonardo's example. The painting is sometimes thought to be by another of his followers, such as Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio. The lady wears a wreath of ground ivy, suggesting her connection with humanists and literary circles, and may also allude to marriage.
Michael Mucklow Zachary, London (until d. 1837; his estate sale, Christie's, London, March 30–31, 1838, no. 45, as "Portrait of a young lady as Pomona," by Leonardo da Vinci, for £93.9 to Sugden); Sir Edward Burtenshaw Sugden, later 1st Baron St. Leonards, Boyle Farm, Thames Ditton, Surrey, England (1838–d. 1875); his grandson, Edward Burtenshaw Sugden, 2nd Baron St. Leonards, Boyle Farm (1875–86; his sale, E. & H. Lumley, Boyle Farm, November 1, 1886); Sir John Charles Robinson, London (?from about 1886); Henry G. Marquand, New York (until 1890)
London. British Institution. May 1836, no. 98 (as "A Female Portrait," by Leonardo da Vinci, lent by M. M. Zachery [sic]).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Temporary Exhibition," April 1906, no. 7 (as "Portrait of a Lady," by Ambrogio de Predis).
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 4–November 23, 1947, unnumbered cat.
Iowa City. State University of Iowa, School of Fine Arts. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 9–March 31, 1948, unnumbered cat.
Bloomington. Indiana University. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 18–May 16, 1948, no catalogue.
Cremona. Museo Civico Ala Ponzone. "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," February 14–May 2, 2004, unnumbered cat. (p. 92; as Pittore Leonardesco [Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio?]).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy," May 27–August 15, 2004, no. 7 (as Attributed to Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis; Possibly by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio).
Milan. Palazzo Reale. "Arcimboldo: artista milanese tra Leonardo e Caravaggio," February 10–May 22, 2011, no. 3.
B[ernard]. Berenson. "Les peintures italiennes de New-York et de Boston." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 15 (March 1896), p. 200, rejects the attribution to Leonardo, ascribing it to Boltraffio.
Giulio Carotti. "R. Galleria di Brera in Milano." Gallerie nazionali italiane 4 (1899), pp. 327, 330, attributes it to Boltraffio and dates it to his second, Leonardesque, period.
Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, p. 181, no. 233, as "Portrait of a Lady"; attributes it to the school of Leonardo da Vinci; quotes an attribution by Charles Robinson to Leonardo's Florentine period.
Bernhard Berenson. North Italian Painters of the Renaissance. New York, 1907, pp. 112, 161, attributes it to Ambrogio de Predis.
Morton H. Bernath. New York und Boston. Leipzig, 1912, pp. 82, 84, calls the attribution to Ambrogio de Predis very probably correct.
Adolfo Venturi. "La pittura del Quattrocento." Storia dell'arte italiana. Vol. 7, part 4, Milan, 1915, pp. 1029–30, fig. 707, attributes it to Boltraffio.
Francesco Malaguzzi Valeri. La corte di Lodovico il Moro. Vol. 3, Gli artisti lombardi. Milan, 1917, p. 94, pl. IV, attributes it to Boltraffio.
Algernon Graves. Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 3, Reynolds to Z. London, 1921, p. 306, records the price (£93.9) and buyer's name (Sir E. Sugden) at the Zachary sale of 1838.
Attilio Schiaparelli. Leonardo ritrattista. Milan, 1921, pp. 105–6, fig. 27, attributes it to Boltraffio; relates it to Leonardo's "Woman with an Ermine" (Czartoryski Museum, Cracow).
Gardner Teall. "Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio." International Studio 85 (October 1926), p. 94, attributes it to Boltraffio.
A[dolfo]. Venturi. Studi dal vero attraverso le raccolte artistiche d'Europa. Milan, 1927, p. 346, attributes it to Boltraffio.
"'Girl with Cherries,' Painted by Ambrogio di Predis." International Studio 89 (January 1928), p. 37, ill. (color).
Wilhelm Suida. Leonardo und sein Kreis. Munich, 1929, pp. 194, 292, pl. 212, tentatively attributes it to Solario.
Heinrich Bodmer. Leonardo: Des Meisters Gemälde und Zeichnungen. Stuttgart, 1931, pp. 375–76, ill. p. 97, includes it with copies and works by Leonardo's school.
Ernst Michalski. "Zur Stilkritik des Bartolomeo Veneto." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 65 (1931–32), pp. 178–79, attributes it to Bartolomeo Veneto, dates it about 1520, and notes the influence of the Milanese school.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 472.
A. Bellani. "Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio." PhD diss., Università di Milano, 1935–36, pp. 126–28 [see Ref. Fiorio 2000], attributes it to Boltraffio.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 405.
Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 87, calls the thin handling typical of works attributed to Predis, especially mentioning the portrait of Francesco de Bartolommeo Archinto, dated 1494, in the National Gallery, London (and now attributed to an anonymous painter of the Milanese school).
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 139–40, ill., attributes it to Ambrogio de Predis and notes a close relationship to the portrait of a young man by Predis dated 1494 in the National Gallery, London [see Ref. Burroughs 1938].
Ruth Wedgwood Kennedy. "Review of Wehle 1940." Art Bulletin 24 (June 1942), p. 196, describes it as "a Milanese young lady masquerading as Pomona" by Ambrogio de Predis.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, p. 108, lists it tentatively as by Ambrogio de Predis.
Jan Bialostocki. Letter to Everett Fahy. December 20, 1968, finds an attribution to Boltraffio more acceptable than one to Predis; notes a relationship to Leonardo's "Lady with an Ermine" (Czartoryski Museum, Cracow).
Jan Bialostocki and E. K. J. Reznicek inDie Kunst des 16. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1970, pp. 156, 165, fig. 9b, consider it closer to the style of Boltraffio than to that of Predis.
Denys Sutton, ed. Letters of Roger Fry. New York, 1972, vol. 1, p. 255 n. 1 to letter no. 177 (March 2, 1906), lists it among works included in the 1906 exhibition.
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 169, 531, 605, as by Predis.
David Alan Brown. "'Monna Vanna' and 'Fornarina': Leonardo and Raphael in Rome." Essays Presented to Myron P. Gilmore. Vol. 2, Florence, 1978, pp. 34, 68 n. 60, fig. 4, finds the attribution to Predis plausible and dates the work to the 1490s; states that it was inspired by Leonardo's "Woman with an Ermine" in Cracow, and that it forms a precedent for the "Monna Vanna" composition; calls it a portrait of a courtesan.
Patricia Trutty-Coohill. "Studies in the School of Leonardo da Vinci: Paintings in Public Collections in the United States with a Chronology of the Activity of Leonardo and his Pupils and Catalogue of Auction Sales." PhD diss., Pennsylvania State University, Univ. Park, Pa., 1982, pp. 178–83, fig. 15, notes that Giovanni Romano suggests that it might be an early work by Marco d'Oggiono and that Mauro Lucco tentatively supports this attribution; sees figs as well as cherries in the basket and notes that the fig was a symbol of lust.
Mercedes Precerutti Garberi inLeonardo e Milano. Ed. Gian Alberto Dell'Acqua. Milan, 1982, p. 205, fig. 156.
David Alan Brown. "Leonardo and the Idealized Portrait in Milan." Arte lombarda, n.s., 67 (1983/84), p. 104, fig. 3.
John Pope-Hennessy. "Roger Fry and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Oxford, China, and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday. Ed. Edward Chaney and Neil Ritchie. London, 1984, p. 231.
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, pp. 54–55, pl. 29.
Domenico Sedini. Marco d'Oggiono: tradizione e rinnovamento in Lombardia tra Quattrocento e Cinquecento. Milan, 1989, pp. 16, 44, attributes it to Boltraffio and calls it Girl with a Crown of Ivy.
David Alan Brown. "Some Observations about the Exhibition 'Disegni e dipinti leonardeschi dalle collezioni milanesi'." Raccolta Vinciana 23 (1989), p. 29 [see Ref. Fiorio 2000].
Michel de Grèce. Portrait et séduction. [Paris], 1992, p. 213, ill. (color).
Pietro C. Marani inLeonardo: la dama con l'ermellino. Ed. Barbara Fabjan and Pietro C. Marani. Exh. cat., Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome. [Milan], 1998, pp. 39, 49 n. 41, as attributed to de Predis but possibly by Boltraffio; mistakenly locates the picture in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Maria Teresa Fiorio. "In margine al de' Predis." Studi di storia dell'arte in onore di Maria Luisa Gatti Perer. Ed. Marco Rossi and Alessandro Rovetta. Milan, 1999, p. 153, attributes it to de Predis.
Maria Teresa Fiorio. Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio: un pittore milanese nel lume di Leonardo. Milan, 2000, pp. 12, 106, 171, 181, 186, 192, 201, no. D23, ill., calls the attribution to Ambrogio de Predis the most convincing and believes the picture is by the same hand as "Saint Sebastian" (Cleveland Museum of Art), "Portrait of a Young Man" (Pinacoteca di Brera), and "Francesco di Bartolomeo Archinto" (National Gallery, London).
Giovanni Agosti. Disegni del Rinascimento in Valpadana. Exh. cat., Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi. Florence, 2001, p. 194, mentions it in connection with a drawing by Boltraffio of the head of a youth crowned with a garland (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence).
Andrea Bayer. "North of the Apennines: Sixteenth-Century Italian Painting in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 60 (Spring 2003), pp. 16–19, fig. 10 (color), finds the attribution to Predis unpersuasive and proposes Boltraffio as an alternative; dates it about 1491–95; states that the subject seems intentionally vague and believes it probably represents an idealized portrait type; identifies the crown as ground ivy, suggesting that this might connect the sitter with humanistic and literary circles in Milan; identifies the contents of the basket as cherries, pears, and other fruits.
Andrea Bayer inPainters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2004, p. 80, no. 7, ill. (color) [Italian ed., "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," (Milan), 2004, pp. 92–93, ill. (color, overall and detail)].
Martin Kemp inPainters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2004, p. 72 [Italian ed., "Pittori della realtà: le ragioni di una rivoluzione da Foppa e Leonardo a Caravaggio e Ceruti," (Milan), 2004, p. 69], uses it as an example of hypernaturalism reaching the level of self-parody, noting that the "individual features of flowers, drapery, hair, and head are indiscriminately enhanced to the detriment of any sense of pictorial unity".
Giulio Bora inArcimboldo: artista milanese tra Leonardo e Caravaggio. Ed. Sylvia Ferino-Pagden. Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale. Milan, 2011, pp. 30, 48 n. 17, p. 365, no. 3, ill. p. 29 (color).
Antonio Mazzotta inLeonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2011, pp. 133 n. 10, p. 204, fig. 90 (color), attributes it to Marco d'Oggiono.
Sebastian Schütze. Caravaggio: The Complete Works. Cologne, 2015, p. 31, ill. p. 40 (color), relates it to Caravaggio's "Boy with a Basket of Fruit" (Galleria Borhgese, Rome).