Double Portrait of a Venetian Woman and her Cavalier, c. 1560
Oil on canvas, 84,5 x 71 cm.
Inventory number: 0009NMK
This painting depicts a loving interaction between a Venetian woman and her devoted cavalier. His hands gently caress the woman’s arm and shoulder while she has placed her left hand strategically over her lap. The scene’s erotic undertones hint of an association with the Venetian Belle Donne portrait genre and tradition, where Venetian courtesans are the main subject of the scene. These portraits of young and beautiful ladies of the court, known for their loose morals, were intended as a homage to the feminine ideal of beauty while also titillating men’s imaginations. The Venetian painter Paris Bordone was likely introduced to the genre while serving an apprenticeship under Tizian, who himself painted Belle Donne portraits. Influenced by the French School of Fontainebleau, Bordone painted numerous mythological and allegorical scenes where eroticism between the sexes became even more explicit and piquant.
Paris Bordone (1500-1571)