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If you find yourself romping around North America and become overwhelmed by desire to kick it old school with our Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, this painting is your only hope.

This is Ginerva de’ Benci, a wealthy, educated poet from Florence with questionable bangs. It is believed that this was commissioned as a sort of wedding portrait. Here we see de’ Benci at the prime age of sixteen, awaiting her marriage to Luigi Niccolini. Leonardo once said, “A face is not well done unless it expresses a state of mind,” and de' Benci's looks pretty mopey.

Does she have a bad case of resting bitch face or is she betraying her feelings about the upcoming union? Ginny might be regretting her decision to get hitched to a man twice her age, especially since she was the object of obsession for so many others. There are at least 10 poems written about her and it’s believed that this very painting was commissioned by Bernardo Bembo, her friend with benefits. Hopefully Niccolini was not the jealous type because girlfriend was trifling. She later went into exile due to an unknown illness and a tragically ill-fated love affair.

Da Vinci completed this work when he was only 22 years old. Talk about a prodigy! Most 22 year olds I know are trying to get it together enough to pay their taxes. But da Vinci was radicalizing the art world. The fact that he painted de’ Benci outside was pretty unheard of at the time. Almost all portraits of women during this period were created in the confines of their house, probably because rich girls feared the sun would taint their alabaster skin.

What you see here is only a part of the original painting. It’s believed that almost a third of it is missing due to damage. Art historians speculate that the original depicted de’ Benci’s hands clasped across her lap. This is a total bummer because hands were kind of Leo’s thang; many consider him the “master of hands.”

We can’t complain too much, though. The fact that the world can even see this painting is quite an accomplishment, as this was once the only da Vinci in a private collection. In 1967, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. coughed up the big bucks and paid $5 million for it. Thanks to them, us Americans can pretend to be cultured and appreciate one of the finest Italian Renaissance paintings around.



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Here is what Wikipedia says about Ginevra de' Benci

Ginevra de' Benci is a portrait painting by Leonardo da Vinci of the 15th-century Florentine aristocrat Ginevra de' Benci (born c.  1458). Exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., it is the only painting by Leonardo on public view in the Americas.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Ginevra de' Benci