Lavinia Fontana: Portrait of Bianca Degli Utili Maselli and her children (1604-1605)

(Private Collection)

A painting by the female Italian artist Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614). Depicted is Bianca degli Utili (1568-1605), wife of the nobleman Pierino Maselli, with 6 of her children. Typical of portraits of children they are holding objects: a colorful bird, a plate of fruit, a pen and inkpot, a medallion etc. Only 1 child has her name inscribed on the painting - Verginia, next to her mother (Verginia is holding the finger of her mother, while the mother is holding a dog, symbol of her loyalty as a wife). Why Vergina is the only named child on the painting is unknown, perhaps this portrait was made specifically for her or in her honour. Bianca degli Utili herself died in 1605 at the age of 37, giving birth to her 19th child. Painting from 1604-1605.