The J. Paul Getty Museum

Portrait of a Woman with a Book of Music

Object Details

Title:

Portrait of a Woman with a Book of Music

Artist/Maker:

Bachiacca (Francesco Ubertini) (Italian (Florentine), 1494 - 1557)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1540–1545

Medium:

Oil on panel

Object Number:

78.PB.227

Dimensions:

103.2 × 80.3 cm (40 5/8 × 31 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

This unidentified woman wears an elegant, colorful dress of a type that was the height of Florentine fashion around 1540. Her costume and music book indicate her cultured, patrician background; she may have been a member of the Frescobaldi, a powerful Florentine banking family that once owned the painting.

The surprising juxtaposition of the bright green of the tablecloth alongside the sitter’s pink dress, and the polished, sculptural treatment of flesh tones are characteristics associated with Florentine painting of the early sixteenth century. The artist here shows off his ability to represent intricate embroidery and textures, such as the fur trim of the sitter’s sleeves and patterns on her dress. According to biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574), Bachiacca was famous for his accurate illustrations of birds, examples of which appear here on the border of the tablecloth—they can be identified from left to right as a great or lesser grey shrike, a blue jay, a wren and a yellowhammer. The same birds appear in the borders of tapestries designed by Bachiacca, as well as in the fragmentary remains of some of his murals in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. All of these details reveal the artist’s many talents: Bachiacca and his younger brother in fact worked across many media, and were producers of a variety of luxury items for the Medici court, including tapestries, embroidery design, and zoological illustrations. The melody on the sheet held by the woman is unintelligible; the artist, who is not known to have read music, deliberately obscures it with the sitter’s hand. Bachiacca derived his ambiguous space, juxtaposition of dissonant colors, and polished, sculptural treatment of flesh from Agnolo Bronzino's contemporary portraits of members of the Medici court.

Provenance
Provenance
by 1746 - still in 1801

Lamberto Frescobaldi, died 1801 (Florence, Italy)
Source: GRI, PI, Collectors' Files, Frescobaldi, 1801 inventory

by 1915 - 1928

Vernon James Watney, 1860 - 1928 (Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, England), by inheritance to his wife, Margaret Watney, 1928.
Source: Watney, Catalogue of Pictures (1915), p. 15, no. 46

1928 - 1943

Lady Margaret Watney, died 1943 (Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, England), by inheritance to her son, Oliver Vernon Watney, 1943.

1943 - 1966

Oliver Vernon Watney, 1902 - 1966 (Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1966 - 1967

Estate of Oliver Vernon Watney, 1902 - 1966 [sold, Watney sale, Christie's, London, June 23, 1967, lot 24, to J. Paul Getty.]

1967 - 1976

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976 (Malibu, California; Sutton Place, Surrey, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

1976 - 1978

Estate of J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, distributed to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
The J. Paul Getty Collection (June 29 to September 3, 1972)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis), June 29 to September 3, 1972
Fakes and Forgeries (July 11 to September 29, 1973)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis), July 11 to September 29, 1973
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Renaissance in Florence (May 27 to September 5, 2005)
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), May 27 to September 5, 2005
Wealth and Beauty: Pier Francesco Foschi and Painting in Renaissance Florence (January 29 to April 24, 2022)
  • Georgia Museum of Art (Athens), January 29 to April 24, 2022
Bibliography
Bibliography

Watney, Vernon James. A Catalogue of Pictures and Miniatures at Cornbury Park and 11 Berkeley Square (Oxford: Horace Hart, 1915), p. 15, no. 46.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works: Florentine School. 2 vols. (New York: Phaidon Press, 1963), vol. 2, unpaginated, pl. 1235.

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: A List of the Principal Artists and Their Works: Florentine School. 2 vols. (New York: Phaidon Press, 1963), vol. 1, p. 19.

Christie, Manson and Woods, London. Highly Important Pictures by Old Masters. June 23, 1967, p. 14, lot 24.

The J. Paul Getty Collection, exh. cat. (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1972), unpaginated, no. 51, ill.

Fakes and Forgeries, exh. cat. (Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1973), unpaginated, no. 72, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), unpaginated, no. 11, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 71.

McIver, Katherine Ann. "Music in Italian Renaissance Painting, 1480-1580: A Study in Iconology." Ph.D. diss. (University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992), pp. 179-80, no. 15.

Ferrazza, Roberta. Palazzo Davanzati e le collezioni di Elia Volpi (Florence: Centro Di, 1994), pp. 83, 85, fig. 74.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 4, ill.

Fahy, Everett. L'archivio storico fotografico di Stefano Bardini: Dipinti, disegni, miniature, stampe (Florence: Alberto Bruschi, 2000), pp. 44, no. 357, 221, fig. 357.

La France, Robert G. "Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi, il Bachiacca (1494-1557): 'diligente dipintore.'" Ph.D. diss. (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2002), pp. 455-61, figs. 62, 62a, 62b.

Southgate, M. Therese, M.D. "The Cover." JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 292, no. 23 (December 15, 2004), p. 2813, cover ill.

Solinas, Francesco. "Angiolo de' Frescobaldi e le sue collezione d'arte." In I Frescobaldi: una famiglia fiorentina (Florence: Le lettere, 2004), pp. 184, 195-96, ill.

Solinas, Francesco. "Angiolo de' Frescobaldi and his Art Collections." In The Frescobaldi: A Florentine Family (Florence: Le lettere, 2004), pp. 184, 198, ill.

Belozerskaya, Marina. Luxury Arts of the Renaissance (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), pp. 187-89, fig. v-2.

Franklin, David, ed. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the Renaissance in Florence, exh. cat. (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, with Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 250-51, 253, no. 87, ill., entry by Robert G. La France.

Vernissage: The Magazine of the National Gallery of Canada (Summer 2005), cover ill.

Dennis, Flora. "Music." In At Home in Renaissance Italy, exh. cat. Marta Ajmar-Wollheim and Flora Dennis, eds. (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2006), pp. 236-37, fig. 16.8.

Macola, Novella. Sguardi e scritture: Figure con libro nella ritrattistica italiana della prima metà del Cinquecento (Venice: Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 2007), p. 60n150.

La France, Robert G. Bachiacca: Artist of the Medici Court (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2008), pp. 91-92, 108, 196, under no. 46; pp. 226-29, no. 68; p. 245, under no. 79; p. 248, under no. 81; p. 286, under no. 128; pl. XLI; fig. 25.

Franklin, David. Review of Bachiacca: Artist of the Medici Court, by Robert G. La France. Burlington Magazine 152, no. 1289 (August 2010), p. 551, fig. 48.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Picture a Character

Students write descriptions and use a variety of media to create portraits of characters from the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; History–Social Science

3-5

Three/Five-Part Lesson