Italian Spaniels

1738_Bronzino_Bildnis_einer_Dame_mit_Schoßhündchen_anagoria.jpgThis is the Florentine painter, Bronzino’s Portrait of a Lady in Red from 1533.

It is thought to depict Francesca Salviati, and if this is true, it means this portrait displays the wealth and piety of the mother of the future Pope Leo XI. Salviati was the daughter to a wealthy Italian politician and related through her mother to the infamous Medici family.

The rosary on her lap allude to her intense piety, while the books behind her Dante chair hint at her education and learning. Her wealth is displayed in the enormous amount of brilliantly dyed fabric which forms her dress and bulbous sleeves, as well as her jewellery.

The lap dog, clearly an early breed of what is now called the King Charles Spaniel, wasn’t only her most likely companion, but also a symbol of her fidelity, honesty and protection. Given her family’s importance in Italian and especially Florentine political matters, perhaps the Florentine Bronzino decided to depict this eminent character which symbols alluding to her protection of Florence. Agnolo_Bronzino_-_Portrait_of_a_Lady_in_Red_(detail)_-_WGA18105.jpg

 

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