“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” -Henry Ward Beecher
It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Louvre, so I thought I would take a break from the Finding Everyday Inspiration series I’ve been working on. If you haven’t read that yet, be sure to check that out! Anyways, let’s talk about la belle ferronniere:
This piece is actually also known as Portrait of an Unknown Woman and although there has been some speculation as to who the painter for this piece is, it’s generally accepted creator is Leonardo da Vinci. It was painted in the 1490’s and it has a quite interesting backstory. (It can also be confused with another one of da Vinci’s paintings, Lady with an Ermine due to the jewel worn on her forehead that’s known as a ferronniere- but I digress.) The woman in this picture is thought to be the wife of an ironmonger (someone who sells hardware). It’s said to be alluding to an alleged affair that Francis I of France had with the wife of an ironmonger. As the tale goes, the husband went out an contracted syphilis and passed it to the wife, who would then pass it to the king. I don’t know if this is actually true or not, but it’s one hell of a revenge story.
So let’s get into it. Why do people think that this piece isn’t Leonardo’s? If you compare it to his other pieces, the woman’s features are painted thicker and heavier, which has lead many to believe that it’s not his work. However, the bows found on the dress that she is wearing and the cords around her neck resemble da Vinci’s style, which has lead others to believe that it is his painting. When I was looking at this painting, I noticed how small it was- it’s smaller than the Mona Lisa (for reference).
I find it more interesting that when da Vinci was alive, his work was never truly appreciated and he never actually finished any of his sculptures. But fast forward a couple hundred years and his painting, the Mona Lisa, is one of the most famous paintings in the world. Even his lesser known paintings, like la belle ferronniere, can go for hundreds upon thousands of dollars. It seems like people are fascinated by his work regardless of how “insignificant” it may be.
At this point, I don’t really know what else to write except that Leonardo da Vinci was a very talented artist and an avant-garde inventor. His work is revered all over the world and it was very humbling to be able to see it in real life.
Until next time! Au revoir.