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Ginevra de Benci

Ginevra de Benci, c. 1474

"She adorns her virtue with beauty."

Leonardo da Vinci
c. 1474
tempera on panel, with addition at bottom edge:
.427 x .370 m (16 13/16 x 14 9/16 in.)
original panel only: .381 x .370 m (15 x 14 9/16 in.)

aquired in 1967 by the
National Gallery of Art
in Washington, D.C.
Cleaned and restored in 1991.

Believed to be commissioned by Bernardo Bembo,
Venetian ambassador to Florence and
"platonic lover" of Ginevra de Benci (1457-1520).

The back is painted with a wreath of Palm, Laurel
and Juniper, spanned by a ribbon banner reading:
"VIRTVTEM FOR/MA DECORAT"
(She adorns her virtue with beauty
or Beauty adorns Virtue.)

Leonardo da Vinci - Ginevra de Benci, backside

This was Ginevra's motto.
Recently it was discovered that this motto
was painted over the original motto,
"Virtue and Honor" (Bernardo Bembo's motto).

The bottom of this painting (probably including her hands)
has been cut off.  The pose, reminiscent of Verrocchio's portrait
bust, is supported by one of da Vinci's drawings, now in London.

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