Portrait of a Young Lady with a Book
Andrea d'Agnolo, known as Andrea del Sarto (Firenze 1486 – 1530)
The young woman, shown in three-quarter view, is seated with her right arm on the back of the chair, while gazing out at the onlooker with a hint of an inviting smile. The dark background serves to highlight the wide-sleeved blue dress and white shirt, decorated with a floral pendant.. She is holding a ‘petrarchino’, a printed copy of the Canzoniere by Francesco Petrarca, a very popular type of book in the 16th century, due to the small size that made it suitable for the private enjoyment of reading. The woman shows us the page with sonnets 153 “Ite caldi sospiri al freddo core” [Go, warm sighs, to her frozen heart] and no. 154 “Le stelle, il cielo e gli elementi a prova” [The stars, the sky, the elements employed]. The first text is a reference to the disquiet of amorous feelings, and the second, in praise of the beloved’s beauty, evoking her beautiful eyes and the intensity of her gaze. We do not know the name of the woman. According to some, it may be a portrait of Lucrezia, Andrea’s wife, while for others, it is a portrait of Lucrezia’s daughter from her first marriage, Maria del Berrettaio. In this intense portrait, with its rich palette of blues, Andrea draws on the closest examples of portraiture, not only Florentine, but also Roman, from Raphael to the Venetians, such as Sebastiano del Piombo, or Lotto, from whom he takes the freer, more intimate style of interpretation. The painting was displayed in the Tribuna from 1589 and attributed to Pontormo.