Portrait of a Noblewoman

By Francesco Mazzola "Parmigianino" (1532)

Portrait of a Noblewoman known as La Schiava turca (1532 ca) by Francesco Mazzola known as ParmigianinoPalazzo della Pilotta

The subject is a young woman with brown hair and eyes, portrayed as a half-figure.

She also wears a soft embroidered apron on her belly of a type also represented in the painting Antea by the same artist.

On the head she wears a doughnut-shaped headdress sewn with gilt thread and decorated by a medallion portraying Pegasus.

This style of headwear was fashionable for women of the time, invented for Isabella d'Este and featured in numerous female portraits from the Lombard and Padan area in the early 16th century.

On the hand, whose slender fingers are typical of Parmigianino art, she wears a small ring, perhaps a reference to a recent marriage.

She holds a plume used to fan herself, depicted with highly detailed brushstrokes.

This portrait is among the most famous and expressive by the artists: with a cunning look and an ambiguous smile, the noblewoman gazes at the viewer. Soft, curved lines trace the figure, enhanced by the positioning from the side.

The proposed identifications of the woman include Giulia Gonzaga at the time of her marriage to Vespasiano Gonzaga.

The painting dates back to 1532. At the time, Parmigianino was in Parma, studying the decoration of the Steccata Church, the last example of his technical research.

The painting was part of the collection of Cardinal Leopoldo De’ Medici; it went to the Uffizi in 1675 as part of the Medici Guardaroba bequest.
In 1928, it was given to the Gallery of Parma, in exchange for two 3rd Century tables, belonging to the Tacoli Cannacci collection.

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