Portrait of Ginevra Benci (1474-1476) by Leonardo da Vinci

Portrait of Ginevra Benci - Leonardo da Vinci - c.1474

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Artwork Information

TitlePortrait of Ginevra Benci
ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
MediumOil on Wood
Dimensions42 x 37 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Location Created Milan, Italy

About Portrait of Ginevra Benci

The artwork titled “Portrait of Ginevra Benci” is an acclaimed piece by the master artist Leonardo da Vinci, believed to have been created around the year 1474. This oil on wood painting is a quintessential example of the Early Renaissance art movement, showcasing Leonardo’s proficiency in capturing human likeness and emotion. The artwork measures 42 by 37 centimeters and is currently housed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Its creation is attributed to Leonardo’s time in Milan, Italy, and it embodies the genre of portraiture.

In the portrayal of Ginevra Benci, the artwork depicts a young woman in profile against a dreamlike backdrop that seamlessly blends nature with a hint of the ethereal. The subject’s visage is rendered with meticulous attention to delicate features, from the finely-drawn eyebrows to the soft contours of her cheek and chin. Her complexion is pale, and her gaze, slightly downcast with a thoughtful or introspective expression, lends her a serene and contemplative aura. The landscape behind her features a clear sky with no clouds, and a distant horizon, which is something very innovative for the time. The juniper tree immediately behind the figure is painted with particular care, with each prickly leaf carefully delineated, symbolizing chastity and referencing her name, as “juniper” and “Ginevra” were phonetically similar in the Italian language of the time.

Note the intricate details in her attire: the elegant lacing of her bodice, the understated gold necklace, and the contrast of the dark garment against her paler skin. This careful juxtaposition of colours and textures contributes to the overall balance and harmony of the composition. While only a portion of the piece remains, as the bottom part is believed to have been cut off at some point in its history, what survives is a testament to Leonardo’s extraordinary skill in capturing both the subtleties of human expression and the beauty of the natural world.

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