Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Portrait of a Prelate

Attributed to Lavinia Fontana (Italian, Bologna 1552–1614 Rome)
ca. 1580
Oil on copper
Diameter 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Millie Bruhl Fredrick, 1962
Accession Number:
Not on view
The daughter of a leading painter in Bologna, Lavinia Fontana became the most famous woman artist of her day and much appreciated both in Rome and in Madrid by Philip II. Miniature portraits such as this one were in vogue: El Greco seems to have made a specialty of them during his years in Rome (1570–77).
Inscription: Inscribed (reverse, in ink): [illegible]
Mrs. Leopold (Millie Bruhl) Fredrick, New York (?by 1943–d. 1962; inv., 1960, no. 148)
Edward Grosvenor Paine. Inventory of the miniatures in the Fredrick collection. 1960, p. 19, no. 148, as by Antonio Mor, about 1550, but with a parenthetical comment that calls it "Atb. to Mor".

Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Unpublished manuscript for catalogue of North Italian paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. n.d. [ca. 1980], call it north Italian, almost certainly Bolognese, and suggest an attribution to Lavinia Fontana and a date in the 1580s; note a connection with Bartolomeo Passerotti; state that the illegible inscription in pen on the back of the painting seems to refer to the sitter.

Maria Teresa Cantaro. Letter to Andrea Bayer. November 29, 1990, favors an attribution to Lavinia Fontana.

Maria Teresa Cantaro. "Aggiornamenti e precisazioni sul catalogo di Lavinia Fontana." Bollettino d'arte 78 (May–June 1993), pp. 85–86, 99 n. 5, fig. 1, attributes it to Fontana and calls it an early work, dating it between 1578 and 1582; compares it with the artist's self-portrait in a studio (Galleria degli Uffizi, Corridoio Vasariano, 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. 47–48, fig. 32 (color), calls it Attributed to Lavinia Fontana and dates it possibly 1580s, noting the influence of the Carracci in the soft, painterly quality.

Caroline P. Murphy. Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and her Patrons in Sixteenth-century Bologna. New Haven, 2003, p. 58, fig. 62 (color), accepts Cantaro's [see Ref. 1993] attribution to Fontana and dates it about 1580.

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