Portrait of a Woman, ca. 1490–1500
Lorenzo di Credi (Italian, Florentine, ca. 1456–1536)
Oil on panel; 23 1/8 x 15 3/4 in. (58.7 x 40 cm)
Inscribed (on reverse): GINEVRA DE AM . . . BENCI
Bequest of Richard De Wolfe Brixey, 1943 (43.86.5)
Lorenzo di Credi's lovely portrait of a young woman dressed in black reflects some of the most important advances in portraiture taking place in Florence at the end of the fifteenth century. Its resemblance to Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.), where the sitter is likewise placed before a juniper (ginepro) bush, was originally even more pronounced, as x-radiography has shown. Verrocchio's sculpted portraits were also an inspiration for the subtle twist of the body and clasped hands.
The sitter's dark clothing and modest neckline suggest widow's attire. Her gesture, holding her gold wedding band (as a keepsake perhaps), appears to be unique in female portraiture. If the sitter was named Ginevra, she may be Ginevra di Giovanni di Niccoló, the daughter of a goldsmith and a beneficiary of Lorenzo di Credi's will. Although the sitter is sometimes said to have been the widow of the artist's brother Carlo, there is no firm evidence for this assertion.