At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Lucrezia Crivelli – lady in waiting

Mystery of the beautiful woman in painting by Leonardo


For many years, it was assumed the woman in Da Vinci's La belle Ferronnière was Sforza's mistress, Lucrezia Crivelli
For many years, it was assumed the woman
in Da Vinci's La belle Ferronnière was
Sforza's mistress, Lucrezia Crivelli
Lucrezia Crivelli, mistress of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, who was for a long time believed to be the subject of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, died on this day in 1508 in Canneto sull’Oglio in Lombardy.

Crivelli served as a lady in waiting to Ludovico Sforza’s wife, Beatrice d’Este, from 1475 until Beatrice’s death in 1497.

She also became the Duke’s mistress and gave birth to his son, Giovanni Paolo, who went on to become the first Marquess of Caravaggio and a celebrated condottiero.

Crivelli lived for many years in the Castello of Canneto near Mantua under the protection of Isabella d’Este, the elder sister of Beatrice, until her death in 1508.

Coincidentally, her former lover, Ludovico Sforza, is believed to have died on the same day in 1508 while being kept prisoner in the dungeons of the castle of Loches in Touraine in France, having been captured by the French during the Italian Wars.

It was never proved, but it was assumed for many years that Crivelli may have been the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting La belle Ferronnière, which is displayed in the Louvre in Paris. Another theory was that either Beatrice d’Este or Isabella of Aragon could have been the subject.

It is now thought LucreziaCrivelli was the subject of Da Vinci's Profile of a Young Lady
It is now thought LucreziaCrivelli was the subject
of Da Vinci's Profile of a Young Lady
It was originally believed to be Crivelli because da Vinci had painted another of Ludovico Sforza’s mistresses, Cecilia Gallerani, in his painting Lady with an Ermine.

Eventually the theory was disproved when a painting of Lucrezia Crivelli, also by da Vinci and which had been kept by her family for centuries, was put on display in Germany in 1995. The woman in this painting, Profile of a Young Lady, is thought not to be the same woman who featured in La belle Ferronnière.

The real Crivelli painting has been examined by the man who restored The Last Supper, Pinin Barcillon Brambilla, who found some pigments to be the same as those of the Milanese mural.

The Castello Sforzesco in Milan
The Castello Sforzesco in Milan
Travel tip

One of the main sights in Milan is the impressive Sforza castle, Castello Sforzesco, built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. After Ludovico Sforza became Duke of Milan in 1494 he commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to fresco several rooms. The castle now houses some of the city’s museums and art galleries. For more information visit www.milanocastello.it

Travel tip

Canneto sull’Oglio, where Lucrezia Crivelli died, is in the province of Mantua in Lombardy, about 100 km (62 miles)  south of Milan. It is home to the restaurant Dal Pescatore, which has three Michelin stars. Run by the Santini family, the restaurant is famous for its pumpkin-stuffed tortelli.





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