Lady With An Ermine
The National Gallery has really pulled off a coup with the Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition which has just opened in London. I hope I manage to get there but in the meantime have at least been able to watch the Sky Arts programme which in itself is mesmerising. I must admit to knowing nothing really about the two paintings above and did not realise they are held to be so revolutionary in that they were the very first portraits to "break the mould" of profile portraiture which had been the traditional way of recording the rich and famous up to that point.
Both ladies are rumoured to be mistresses of the Duke of Milan, although some sources believe La belle ferroniere may be his wife. These portraits are considered to be perfect examples of Leonardo's desire to show the personalities and emotions of his sitters, to really get inside them and to bring them to life in every sense of the word. It is interesting that the National has arranged them so that La belle ferroniere seems to be glaring at the woman with the ermine.....which led the presenters to add to the speculation that she was the duke's wife and the other his mistress!