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Portrait of Young Girl

Francesco Furini (attr.)

c. 1645
D35. Galileo and the Medici
Oil on copper
San Marco e Cenacoli no. 103

The identity of the young girl in this portrait, who seems to be around twelve - thirteen years old, is unknown. The elegant pink dress, decorated with fun black bows and completed by a white pinafore in fancy weave, worn with a string of pearls, means that the customer was doubtless a person of standing, and someone passionate about this type of painting, used for private and family rooms. The subject gazes out directly with an absorbed, almost melancholy expression. Her face, with its naturally soft complexion and plump, half-closed lips, reveals a careful study from life, carried out by the painter not without first having sketched out the balanced forms.  The effectiveness of the painting is sustained by the particular technique of oil on copper, widespread from the mid-16th century, in parallel with the popularity of copperplate engraving.  The metal alloy, considered to be as durable and strong as marble or wood, was useful in bringing out the full effects of preciousness and the textural impact of even the tiniest of details; this is why it was a preferred choice for smaller works, although it was not rare for it to be applied in larger paintings and even on altar pieces.

As for the artist behind this delightful painting, different names have been put forward over the years: from Furini to Vignali, Mazzoni and Felice Ficherelli. The soft brushwork and the subtle hint of sensuality running through the painting, seem to be compatible with the methods of Francesco Furini, which emerge when comparing this head with the red pencil drawings of the 40s or with paintings such as the Allegory of Poetry in the National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Text by
Anna Bisceglia
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