Piero di Cosimo: Portrait of a woman (1490)

(Musée Condé, Chantilly, France)

A painting by the Italian artist Piero di Cosimo (1462-1522). The text below the painting ("SIMONETTA IANUENSIS VESPUCCIA") identifies the depicted woman as Simonetta Vespucci (1453 – 1476) from Genoa. Simonetta Vespucci, born as Simonetta Cattaneo, was the wife of the Florentine nobleman Marco Vespucci who was a relative of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci (the continent The Americas is named after this explorer) and friends of the powerful de' Medici family. Known for her beauty, Simonetta became almost immediately popular with the people of Florence. She died in 1476, the reason presumably tuberculosis, at the age of only 23. According to the stories Simonetta was the muse of several Italian artists, including Sandro Botticelli who presumably used in several of his works (this is probably not true). Although the text below this portrait mentions her name, the text was added later and is probably fictional. Who the woman represents is a matter of debate: Queen Cleopatra, the Roman/ Greek goddess Proserpina etc have been suggested. Painting from 1490.

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