Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 29

In the early seventeenth century, portraiture was also
affected by changing aesthetic values and the demands of
an international market. El Greco was a key protagonist in
exploring creative new approaches to the genre. The miniature
Portrait of a Woman (Alfonsa de los Morales?) (cat. no. 16), perhaps
representing the artist’s daughter-in-law, reveals an interest in
details of costume and a free, but confident handling of the
brush, even when working on a small scale; this skill in the art
of miniature may be a legacy of the artist’s friendship with
the illuminator Giulio Clovio (fig. 15), and his training as an
icon-painter in Crete. The taste for miniature portraits in the
Seicento is also demonstrated by Cristofano Allori’s previously
unpublished Portrait of a Lady (ca. 1617, cat. no. 17). In this
work the Florentine artist employs the polished, technically
challenging surface of copper to accentuate the diaphanous
figure.22 Chromatically, the oval plays on the gold and precious
lapis-lazuli blue of the dress, as well as recalling the blonde
hair and cerulean eyes of the young woman. Working on
a larger scale, Ottavio Leoni presents another meticulous
depiction of clothing and jewellery, enhancing the aristocratic
Fig. 16. Ottavio Leoni, Portrait
of Principessa della Roccella
Diana Vittori, ca. 1600, black
and white chalk on blue
paper, 21.1 x 14.3 cm, Berlin,
Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche
Museen zu Berlin.
Fig. 15. El Greco,
Portrait of Giulio Clovio,
ca. 1571, oil on panel,
58 x 86 cm, Naples,
Museo Nazionale di
distinctiveness of the sitter in his Portrait of a Lady (cat. no. 18).
In addition to portraits of individuals, there was a demand
Previously attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, this work has
among sixteenth- and seventeenth-century collectors
now been rightly recognized as belonging to the hand of Leoni,
for serial portraits of famous individuals from either the
the leading portraitist of Seicento Rome. A distinctive feature
classical or Christian past, whose likenesses functioned as
of his style, the delicate sfumato of this painting results from the
exempla or models of behaviour. Jusepe Ribera was a leading
master’s virtuoso technique as a draftsman, exemplified by many
Seicento proponent of works in this genre, completing large
exquisite, highly-finished female portrait studies, such as the
commissions for both Spanish and Italian patrons. Numerous
Portrait of Principessa della Roccella Diana Vittori (fig. 16).
depictions of dramatically intense, closely cropped apostles and


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