Portrait of a Woman

Giovanni Battista Gaulli (Il Baciccio) Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 618

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. By having her toy with her pearls and face us sidelong, Gaulli has also introduced an intimate immediacy. Best known today for painting vast, illusionistic ceilings, Gaulli first 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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