Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519)
Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with an Ermine)
Oil on wood
54.8 x 40.3 cm
Cecilia Gallerani was an influential mistress of the ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. The animal cradled in her arms, an Ermine, was a symbol of virtue and purity.
In its present state, Lady with an Ermine is ‘mostly’ by Leonardo. The original painting was entirely done by him and, in fact, contains his fingerprints. His background was dark blue, though—the black was overpainted by someone else in the intervening years. Cecilia’s fingers have been jarringly retouched, and the inscription in the upper left-hand corner is also a non-Leonardesque intervention.