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Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0691114569
ISBN-10: 0691114560
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Accompanying a major exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, this book is the first on the theme of female portraiture during the Renaissance. Curator Brown and fellow experts on the Renaissance use examples from the work of Leonardo, Lippi, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and others to conclude that most of the portraits of women during this period were expressions of the wealth of the sitter's husband. The wife's elaborate jewelry and dress symbolized the honor of her husband's social standing rather than her own vanity. At the same time, the portrait of a beautiful woman during the Renaissance also was associated with the Neoplatonic ideal of beauty and its equation to virtue. It is noted, however, that while Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and Mona Lisa upheld this ideal of virtue and beauty, they departed from the tradition of depicting women in elaborate dress that reflected social status in favor of a more personal, humanist interpretation of female portraiture. Illustrated with beautiful color reproductions, this highly readable volume is recommended for all libraries with art collections. Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll., MA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The catalogue essays give an excellent account of the motives behind the portraits . . . the claiming of sexual and family territory, the presentation of the bride as property, and so on."--Robert Hughes, Time

"[A] sumptuously illustrated catalogue."--Art Newspaper

"The reassuringly glossy catalogue is modestly priced . . . and, as an up-to-date work of reference, will easily outlive the exhibition."--Alison Wright, Burlington Magazine

"[A] beautifully produced book . . . [with] beautiful production values and breathtaking . . . illustrations."--Victoria Keller, The Art Book

"The book is useful for its emphasis on the social and cultural elements that determined the purpose and aesthetics of the portraits, and for bringing together such a superb collection of examples to aid in our understanding of how female portraiture developed during the Renaissance. The beautiful illustrations . . . are a treat for the scholar and casual observer alike."--Lilian H. Zirpolo, Woman's Art Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691114560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691114569
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 13.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,435,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is a lovely book. It's an exhibit catalogue, so don't expect an enormous amount of information- you're buying it for the images. It's worth it! The images are marvelous, and include excellent detail photos, and portraits on medals and coins, which don't immediately spring to mind when one thinks about portraits.
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