FONTANA, Lavinia
(b. 1552, Bologna, d. 1614, Roma)

Portrait of Antonietta Gonzalez

c. 1595
Oil on canvas, 57 x 46 cm
Musée du Château, Blois

Pedro Gonzalez, the "hairy man from Munich", as he is called, is considered the first documented case of the so-called "Ambras Syndrome", a congenital illness, which results in the growth of hair on the face as well as the entire body after birth. The fate of the hair-covered members of the Gonzalez family is noted for its reputation as a natural wonder. They were considered animals, who were both marvelled at and presented as gifts.

Lavinia Fontana portrayed Antonietta (born c. 1588), the younger daughter of Pedro Gonzalez. The portrait shows a hybrid being somewhere between a doll-like figure and a hairy creature in court dress. The entire face of the 8-10-year-old child is covered by a thick growth of hair.




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