Portrait of a Prelate

Lavinia Fontana Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 640

Fontana was the most famous woman artist of her day, known above all for her portraits. This roundel’s minuscule scale required impressive control and tight paint handling, evident in the protruding veins of the man’s hand, the stitching and lace, and the shadows on the book. She used tiny brushstrokes that are barely perceptible, except in the beard, where deliberately distinct lines lend verisimilitude and animate the face.

Portrait of a Prelate, Lavinia Fontana (Italian, Bologna 1552–1614 Rome), Oil on copper

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