L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Scary ladies, tiny dogs

Seated Woman with Kerchief and Lap Dog (possibly Picabella Pagliarani), attributed to Francesco Montemezzano (circa 1540-1602),
circa 1570s. (There are many of the informed opinion that this work should still retain its long-held attribution to the great Paolo
Veronese, Montemezzano's master; it has all of the hallmarks of the former's work, and little of the latter's.)

Late Renaissance portraiture has left us many images of sumptuously dressed but, shall we say, formidable looking ladies.  In a visually ironic juxtaposition, they are often portrayed with miniscule canine accessories who, either by injudicious breeding or (more likely) the ineptitude of the artist, are not always perfect examples of conformation.

  Thought to be Dorothy Bray, Baroness Chandos (1524-1605), by John Bettes the Younger (d 1616), 1578.
Portrait of a Lady With a Dog, by Lavinia Fontana (August 24, 1552 – August 11, 1614), ND.
Livia Colonna, by Paolo Veronese (1528 – 19 April 1588), 1570-72.
Lady Arabella Stuart, by Robert Peake the Elder (circa 1551–1619), 1605.
Lady With a Lapdog (Portrait of Ginevra Aldrovandi Hercolani), by Lavinia Fontana (August 24, 1552 – August 11, 1614), circa 1595.


  1. Your first scary lady is clearly the love child of J Edgar Hoover and Gertrude Stein, but why the Metropolitan Museum has chosen to take away its original attribution (to Paolo Veronese) is quite beyond me.

    1. Haha! Yes, the lady's beefy physiognomy makes a compelling case for that extremely improbable coupling.

      I didn't know the painting had been reattributed; I hadn't actually thought about it until you brought it up but, certainly, this portrait is about as "Veronese" as they come. This whole attribution business is too often crazy-making, the things they say "are" and the things they say "aren't". I can understand the calculated motivation to move a painting up the food chain, shall we say -- there's a really rather bad portrait of Napoléon III at Compiègne that not too long ago was reattributed to Winterhalter, when it so clearly isn't by his hand -- but when they move one down? And who - are - "they", when any whosit like myself can easily see a painting for what it is, while they apparently cannot...?

      Ah, but now you've got me agitated, Mr. Worthington! ; )

    2. My thoughts precisely, Stephen!
      Based on your posted image and caption, I embarked on a brisk little bit of research to do with Francesco Montemezzano, and what did I find? A series of utterly indifferent portraits bearing no relationship whatever to the painting style of the Lady with Dog and Kerchief.
      I did learn that Francesco was apprenticed to Paolo Veronese and that he, Francesco, also worked with Paolo's brother Benedetto (who was, if I recall correctly, responsible for the "quadratura" in PVs murals) so that is where the confusion begins. Yet as you say, this particular portrait bears all the earmarks of Paolo's style--and I say this as a passionate admirer of PV for several decades, poring over the details of his oeuvre, marveling at the effects created from his deft brushwork.
      J Edgar's Love Child may not be in the mold of Paolo's usual hefty beauties, but if she was not created by Veronese, then I am Marie of Roumania.

    3. Being the dear, poseuse Q. M. of R. would have its pluses and minuses, of course... but the Met be damned: as a fellow admirer of the great Veronese, the least I might do is add an addendum to the caption, and so I shall!

  2. Too kind of you, dear Stephen---you are a gentleman and a scholar!

    1. Rough-hewn pretense on both counts, I assure you, but I'll take the compliment, nonetheless.

  3. A bit late to comment, however, I just had a rather unsettling image of these ladies calling the sitting to a halt because, "Mummy's widdle poopsy-woopsy wants hims diddums", as they smooch and coo at said "poopsy"! Run, dog, run!