Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Girl with a Wimsey

Girl With An Ermine (Leonardo da Vinci, 1489, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland). Now this a very beautiful painting of an extraordinary young woman (she was 17 when this was painted), Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan. She was highly educated, spoke Latin, wrote poetry played music and hosted one of the first salons in Europe. And Leonardo infuses the painting with a dynamic quality as evidenced by the fact that he seems to catch the sitter just in the act of turning--perhaps to listen to what someone is saying. Although the title of the painting would lead one to believe that the woman is holding an ermine, it is really a white ferret, which to me somehow lacks the same cachet. But in any case, as a beautiful and refined woman she should really be holding a beautiful and refined Hound! See how much better she looks cuddling this diminutive, yet somehow haughty Hound. And the presence of the Hound also makes the painting more clear as she is probably turning to acknowledge someone who is greatly admiring him. Girl With A Wimsey.

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