Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This amuses me

I was up late last night (early maybe?) after being awoken by my younger son and was browsing portraits when i came upon this one and then had to stay up until I figured out what in the world is going on in the right corner. What is that attached to her girdle? It's not a zibellino. What IS it?

The title I found it listed under was doing nothing to help me; just a standard "Portrait of a Woman." This one is by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo. After a bit of hunting I found a further title. "Portrait of a Woman as St. Margaret." That opened it up. Its a dragon. This is an allegorical portrait of a woman as St. Margaret of Antioch. Martyred in 304 AD, she is another virtuous woman of Old Rome put forward as an ideal to be emulated. The dragon is one of her symbols. I seem to keep finding these type of portraits and falling in love with them. The Lotto gown I love is also an allegorical portrait of a famous virtuous woman. Also in a strange pose. Margaret here has a furrowed brow and that great turn of her arm that makes her look so tough, while Lucretia has that "masculine pose." For more on the furrowed brow, check out this interesting article by Clare Renkin.

I really like the quirkiness of these and the fancy dress/dress-up aspect of them. The layers of meaning while still getting to wear something fashionable. I'm sort of tempted to find my own woman of historical virtue and define her allegorical dress as an exercise. Or maybe just make a stuffed dragon to wear attached to my girdle.

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