(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Woman with a Veil (La Donna Velata)

Oil on canvas, 82 x 60,5 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Tradition identifies the subject with "la Fornarina", the woman whom the painter loved in his last years and whose face reappeared in both his paintings (e.g. in the Sistine Madonna) and those of his followers. However, the woman, has never been decisively identified. She seems to represent Raphael's ideal of beauty at this time.

The painting shows greater attention to colour and to the rendering of skin and clothes in respect to previous female portraits. The regular oval of the young woman's face stands out against the dark background and her eyes hold an intense and penetrating look. The silk of her sleeves contrasts with her ivory-like skin, and is closely associated with the thin pleating of the dress, held up by a corset with golden embroidery. As in the portrait of Castiglione, the figure radiates a sense of great dignity and restraint. But greys and light-blues dominated the portrait of Castiglione: here the warm tonalities of white and gold take over. Raphael is preparing the wider colour range and the more complex composition which will be expressed in the Portrait of Leo X.

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