Portrait of Lucrezia Borgia?

27 November 2009

This is old news and it hasn’t been absolutely confirmed but this painting, which for a long time was believed to be that of a young boy, is believed to be of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia by Italian artist Dosso Dossi. It was sold in London for £8,000 in 1965 and has been hanging ever since in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. How incredible it always seems that a painting should end up so far away from where it started.

Read more about it here.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that Lucrezia was some depraved, incestuous poisoner by the way. It always seemed incredibly far fetched and the evidence, such as there is, actually suggests quite the opposite and that she was actually a quiet, biddable girl, married off three times by her family and dutifully emotionally attaching herself to the men chosen for her, as evidenced by her distress when her first marriage was annulled in scandalous circumstances and her second was prematurely ended by the murder of her husband, probably by her brother Cesare.

It is true that Lucrezia had lovers – there are rumours of an illegitimate son, born in 1498, when she was just eighteen years old and later on she would be romantically linked to the poet Pietro Bembo and her own brother in law, Francesco Gonzaga, the Marquis of Mantua and husband of the formidable Isabella d’Este.

The overall impression however is of a devout and affectionate young woman with a strong sense of loyalty to her family that was often at odds with a determination to please everyone. It is sad but true that people like this often find that their efforts are in vain and they end up pleasing no one.