Like other Venetian paintings of women from early sixteenth-century, this work was traditionally believed to be the portrait of a courtesan. Actually this female portrait contain precise allusions to marriage: the woman here represented displays her breast, a symbol of fertility, an offering of love and a seductive appeal. She has loosed her hair, an ancient tradition for Venetian brides, and wears a white blouse, a typical element of the bride’s trousseau and a symbol of chastity.
Jacopo Palma the Elder, Venetian by adoption, was famous for these half-length images of attractively plump women, in which he provided his own interpretation of a model invented by Titian. The painting is datable to about 1520.


  • Title: Portrait of a Woman know as The Courtesan
  • Creator: Jacopo Palma the Elder
  • Date Created: Around 1520
  • Physical Dimensions: w63.6 x h48.7 cm
  • Rights: Fondazione artistica Poldi Pezzoli "Onlus"
  • External Link: http://www.museopoldipezzoli.it/#!/en/discover/collections/864
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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