Portrait of a Woman

Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Il Baciccio) Italian

Not on view

An early biography of Gaulli suggests that he adopted from the great baroque sculptor Bernini a procedure of encouraging his sitters not to remain motionless, but to move about naturally, speaking and carrying on their affairs, since only in this way could he produce a true likeness. This unknown woman’s formal silk dress, covered in jewels and fur, conveys her social stature, but by toying playfully with her pearls and facing us sidelong, Gaulli conveys an intimate immediacy. Best known today for painting vast, illusionistic ceilings—including for the Roman Jesuit church of Il Gesù, which occupied him throughout the 1660s and 1670s—Gaulli rose to fame through his portraits.

Portrait of a Woman, Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Il Baciccio) (Italian, Genoa 1639–1709 Rome), Oil on canvas

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