Bartolomeo Veneto “Flora”

Bartolomeo Veneto

Idealised Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora 1520

This work is traditionally considered a portrait of Lucrezia Borgia, the scandal-ridden daughter of Pope Alexander VI. In fact, it shows an unknown lady in the guise of Flora, the classical goddess of spring. Hence the bunch of flowers in her right hand, and especially the fanciful costume with the turban and wig. The exposed breast would have been unthinkable in a portrait of a respectable woman, married or not. Educated courtesans, however – who enjoyed particularly great popularity in Venice and Rome – often had themselves portrayed in the role of Flora.



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