Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 132

Rome, 1578 – 1630
Portrait of a Noblewoman
Oil on canvas
70 x 53.5 cm
Recently this work was attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, but
Private Collection, Florence
its stylistic characteristics are incompatible with that painter.1
Instead this fine Portrait of a Noblewoman should be attributed to
Ottavio Leoni and perhaps depicts a member of a prominent
Riccardo Lattuada, “New Documents and Some
Roman family such as the Colonna or the Orsini. Leoni was
Remarks on Artemisia’s Production in Naples and
the great portraitist of Roman society between the first and
Elsewhere,” in Artemisia Gentileschi: Taking Stock, ed.
third decades of the seventeenth century. In addition to a series
Judith W. Mann (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 79-81;
of painted portraits on canvas depicting the leading individuals
Yuri Primarosa, Ottavio Leoni (1578-1630). Eccellente
of that decade, Leoni also left behind a beautiful and important
miniator di ritratti. Catalogo ragionato dei disegni e dei dipinti
corpus of drawings of sitters from all levels of society (aristocrats,
(Rome: Ugo Bozzi, 2017), p. 707.
cardinals, artists, prostitutes, youths, etc).2
The present canvas reveals the artist’s characteristic manner of
shading the outlines of the face and blending them around the
nose and above the eyebrows. This sfumato is also used to produce
volume on the forehead and chin, as it gracefully moves into the
neck. Similar effects are to be found in the oval of the face of
Scipione Borghese in the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio (fig. 18.1), the Portrait
of Cardinal Roberto Ubaldini and the Portrait of Don Taddeo Barberini,
Prince of Palestrina in a private collection (the latter also notably
similar with regard to the structure and treatment of the nose).
The sumptuously painted treatment of clothing, hair ornament,
and pearl necklace is also typical of Leoni in his depictions of
aristocratic Roman women; precisely depicted ornamental details
of this type are also to be seen in works from an earlier phase of the


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