(b. 1480, Serina, d. 1528, Venezia)
A Sibylc. 1520
Oil on poplar panel, 74 x 55,1 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor
The painting is a fine example of a type frequently found in the work of Giorgione and Titian, by whom Palma Vecchio was influenced. The sensuality of the image is reinforced by the use of shallow diagonals to place the figure in the composition, by the colours (light green, cream white and straw yellow), and also by the subtle play of light. The scale of the figure is somewhat smaller than in the artists related works, and the drapery less fulsomely handled. These restraints suggest that the picture dates from around 1520, preceding such paintings as the Flora (London, National Gallery). Although many of these works have specific subjects such as Lucretia or Judith, or are allegorical, it is often the case that they are disguised portraits of Venetian beauties of the day. This conceit was continued, for example, by Sir Peter Lely in the series of ten portraits known as the Windsor Beauties in the Royal Collection, and it flourished again in the nineteenth century with Rossetti and Burne-Jones. The subject of the present painting is apparent from the inscription in pseudo-Arabic on the cloth in the lower left corner.