POLLAIUOLO, Antonio del
(b. 1431/32, Firenze, d. 1498, Roma)
Portrait of a Young Woman1460-65
Oil and tempera on poplar panel, 53 x 37 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
The painting shows a young woman wearing an exquisite brocade dress. Although at first glance a half-length portrait is suggested, the subject's posture indicates that she is sitting in the marble embrasure of a window or balcony. A bright blue sky fills almost the entire background and contrasts with the pale flesh-tint to give the picture its distinctive colour-harmony.
The painter has shown an incredibly sure touch in bringing out the essential features of the young woman's face in profile. The features are delineated with the minimum of detail. The pattern of the brocade dress, depicted in the plane, underlines the medallion-like character of the picture. The emphatic use of line and the clarity of the contrasting colour-surfaces have always been regarded as typical of the Florentine style, but opinions differ as to the identity of the master.
The attribution to Domenico Veneziano we owe to Wilhelm Bode; before he purchased the portrait it had been attributed to Piero della Francesca. Latterly, the view has gained ground that this portrait was the work of Antonio Pollaiuolo. However, it is alternatively attributed to Alessio Baldovinetti.