The J. Paul Getty Museum


Object Details




Giovanni Bellini (Italian, about 1431/1436 - 1516)




Venice, Veneto, Italy (Place Created)


about 1470


Pen and brown ink

Object Number:



8.7 × 8.9 cm (3 7/16 × 3 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

A young woman with long, curly hair wrestles open the jaws of a lion. The play of light and shadow across her belted dress emphasizes the rounded curves of her body, while Giovanni Bellini's simple yet powerful portrayal of her wrestling grip emphasized his skill with contrasts. He drew the woman's delicate curls with circular strokes, subtly different from the looser, curving lines of the lion's mane. Bellini displayed a confident and assured touch unusual for such a small-scale work.

The woman represents Fortitude, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, a symbol of endurance and strength in mythology. She is more usually shown as a warrior, wearing a helmet and holding a shield, spear, or sword. Scholars do not know the purpose of this drawing, but because of its small size, it was likely made for a miniature or manuscript illumination.

Italian Master Drawings (May 5 to July 19, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), May 5 to July 19, 1992
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
From Line to Light: Renaissance Drawing in Florence and Venice (July 20 to October 10, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 20 to October 10, 2010