Artworks
Portrait of a Lady with a Dog
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In the days before Tinder and Bumble, the best way for ladies to get yourself a man was to have someone paint a portrait of you.

The artist of this work, Lavinia Fontana, was famous for these flashy portraits. If you needed a portrait painted, Lavinia was the lady for the job. Professionally trained alongside Carracci and Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia was a boss at painting the tiny details in lace, jewelry, and fuzzy little dogs.

There was good reason behind paying more attention to the little details in the work than to the sitter and her personality. For women in 16th century Italy, the only way to make sure you were going to be taken care of, since women couldn’t work to take care of themselves, was to make sure you got yourself a man with money.  Lots of these wealthy love affairs started long-distance and were orchestrated by family, so to show off your daughter to a wealthy potential suitor, you had her dress up to prove that she was of high status and therefore worth something.

What else was appealing about women besides money? Well! Fertility also played a big role in these long-distance relationships. Believe it or not, fresh fruit and flowers were symbols indicating that a lady was ready and able to have a baby and hadn’t done the dirty with anyone else yet.