Sublime Beauty: Raphael’s Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn

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Sublime Beauty: Raphael’s Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn focuses on one of the artist’s most beguiling and enigmatic paintings and the idendity of the mysterious blonde sitter who epitomized his female portraiture during his Florentine period.

Two essays by leading specialists in Renaissance art, Linda Wolk-Simon and Mary Shay-Millea, explore the stylistic relationship between this masterpiece and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and the link to Petrarch’s poetry and popular notions of beauty in Renaissance art. They examine attributions and the painting’s distinct iconography, and why, in place of the usual lapdog, the woman holds a unicorn.

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About the Author:

Esther Bell is curator in charge of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Bell specializes in 17th- and 18th-century European painting and was formerly curator of European painting, drawing, and sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Museum. A former Fulbright scholar, she received a doctorate degree from the Institute of Fine Arts in New York, and has held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library & Museum, among other institutions.

Linda Wolk-Simon is the director and chief curator of the Bellarmine Museum of Art, Fairfield University.

Mary Shay-Millea is an independent scholar, based in New York, and formerly a Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum

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