16th & 17th Century Gallery - Painting and Sculpture Mezzanine linked to Level 1, NGV International
The recent identification of the subject of this painting as Lucrezia Borgia (1480–1519) answered a long-running mystery. Borgia married Alfonso d’Este, heir to the duchy of Ferrara, in 1502. In doing so, she farewelled the tumultuous affairs of the Borgia papacy, and settled into the highly cultured environment of Renaissance Ferrara. This portrait is flush with references to classical Antiquity: it contains symbolic references to Venus and the ancient Roman heroine Lucretia, and is thematically united by its Latin inscription, ‘brighter [than beauty] is the virtue reigning in this beautiful body’, a sophisticated adaptation of a verse from Virgil’s Aeneid.