Portraits of Simonetta Vespucci, Beatrice d'Aragona and Barbara Zapolya as Venus and as Madonna
Around 850 the church of Santa Maria Nova (New St Mary), was built on the ruins of the Temple of Venus and Roma between the eastern edge of the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum in Rome. The temple was dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix (Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune) and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome) and thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Virgin Mary was from now on to be venerated in ancient site dedicated to the ancestor of the Roman people, as mother of Aeneas, the founder of Rome. Julius Caesar claimed Venus as his ancestor, dictator Sulla and Pompey as their protectress, she was the goddess of love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory.
In April 1469, at age of sixteen, a Genoese noblewoman Simonetta Cattaneo (1453-1476), married in Genoa in the presence of the Doge and all the city's aristocracy Marco Vespucci from the Republic of Florence, a distant cousin of the navigator Amerigo Vespucci.
After the wedding, the couple settled in Florence. Simonetta quickly became popular at the Florentine court, and attracted the interest of the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano. When in 1475 Giuliano won a jousting tournament after bearing a banner upon which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene, painted by Sandro Botticelli, beneath which was the French inscription La Sans Pareille, meaning "The Unparalleled One", and he nominated Simonetta as "The Queen of Beauty" at that event, her reputation as an exceptional beauty further increased.
She died just one year later on the night of 26/27 April 1476. On the day of her funeral she was carried through Florence in an uncovered coffin dressed in white for the people to admire her one last time and there may have existed a posthumous cult about her in Florence. She become a model for different artists and Botticelli frequently depicted her as Venus and the Virigin, the most important deities of the Renaissance, both of which had pearls and roses as their symbol.
If the greatest contemporary celebrity lend her appearance to goddess of love and the Virgin, it is more than obvious that other wealthy ladies wanted to be represented similarly.
On 22 December 1476 Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia married other Renaissance beauty Beatrice d'Aragona of Naples, a relative of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland (Bona's grandfather Alfonso II of Naples was Beatrice's brother). Matthias was fascinated by his young, intelligent and well-educated wife. Her marble bust created by Francesco Laurana in the 1470s (The Frick Collection in New York) is inscribed DIVA BEATRIX ARAGONIA (Divine Beatrice of Aragon) to further enhance her remote and ethereal beauty. Numerous Italians followed Beatrice to Hungary, among them Bernardo Vespucci, brother to Amerigo, after whom America was named (after Catherine Fletcher's "The Beauty and the Terror: The Italian Renaissance and the Rise of the West", 2020, p. 36).
Corvinus commissioned works of art in Florence and the painters Filippino Lippi, Attavante degli Attavanti and Andrea Mantegna worked for him. He also recived works of art from his friend Lorenzo de' Medici, like metal reliefs of the heads of Alexander the Great and Darius by Andrea da Verrocchio, as Vasari cites.
It is highly possible that Venus by Sandro Botticelli or workshop in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin was also sent from Florence to Matthias Corvinus or brought by Beatrice to Hungary.
After Corvinus' death, Beatrice married in 1491 her second husband, Vladislaus II, son of Casimir IV, King of Poland and elder brother of Sigismund I.
Two paintings of Madonna and Child from the 1490s by Perugino, a painter who between 1486 and 1499 worked mostly in Florence, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (from old imperial collection) and in the Städel Museum (acquired in 1832) depict the same woman as the Virgin. Both effigies are very similar to Beatrice's bust by Francesco Laurana.
The painting in the Städel Museum was most probably copied or re-created basing on the same set of study drawings by other artists, including young Lucas Cranach the Elder. One version, attributed to Timoteo Viti, was offered to the Collegiate Church in Opatów in 1515 by Krzysztof Szydłowiecki, who was initially Treasurer and Marshal of the Court of Prince Sigismund since 1505, and from 1515 Great Chancellor of the Crown. He was a friend of king Sigismund and frequently travelled to Hungary and Austria. Other two versions by Lucas Cranach the Elder are in private collections.
The same woman was also depicted as Venus Pudica in a painting attributed to Lorenzo Costa in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. It was purchased by the Budapest Museum in Brescia in 1895 from Achille Glisenti, an Italian painter who also worked in Germany.
Between 1498-1501 and 1502-1506 the fifth of six sons of Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon, Prince Sigismund frequently travelled to Buda, to live at the illustrous court of his elder brother King Vladislaus II. On his way there his stop was Trenčín Castle, owned by Stephen Zapolya, Palatine of the Kingdom of Hungary. Stephen was married to Polish princess Hedwig of Cieszyn of the Piast dynasty and also owned 72 other castles and towns, and drew income from Transylvanian mines. He and his family was also a frequent guest at the royal court in Buda.
At the Piotrków Sejm of 1509 the lords of the Kingdom insisted on Sigismund, who was elected king in 1506, to get married and give the Crown and Lithuania a legitimate male heir. In 1509 the youngest daughter of Zapolya, Barbara, reached the age of 14 and Lucas Cranach, then Court painter to the Duke of Saxony, was despatched by the Duke to Nuremberg for the purpose of taking charge of the picture painted by Albrecht Dürer, son of a Hungarian goldsmith, for the Duke. That same year Cranach created two paintings showing a woman as Venus and as the Virgin.
The painting of Venus and Cupid, signed with initials LC and dated 1509 on the cartellino positioned against a dark background was acquired by Empress Catherine II of Russia in 1769 with the collection of Count Heinrich von Brühl in Dresden. Its prior history is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that Count Brühl, a Polish-Saxon statesman at the court of Saxony and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, purchased it in Poland. The painting is inspired by Botticelli and Lorenzo Costa's Venuses.
The second painting, very similar to effigies of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna, shows a woman against the landscape which is very similar to topography of the Trenčín Castle, where Barbara Zapolya spent her childhood and where she met Sigismund. She offeres the Child a bunch of grapes a Christian symbol of the redemptive sacrifice, but also a popular Renaissance symbol for fertility borrowed from the Roman god of the grape-harvest and fertility, Bacchus. Both women resemble greatly Barbara Zapolya from her portrait with B&S monogram.
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and an angel by Sandro Botticelli, 1470s, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Madonna and Child with angels by Sandro Botticelli, 1470s, Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, 1484-1485, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Venus by Sandro Botticelli or workshop, fourth quarter of the 15th century, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Venus by Sandro Botticelli or workshop, fourth quarter of the 15th century, Sabauda Gallery in Turin.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Venus by Lorenzo Costa, fourth quarter of the 15th century, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with Saints by Perugino, 1490s, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Perugino, 1490s, Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Timoteo Viti or Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1490s, St. Martin's Collegiate Church in Opatów.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1490s, Private collection.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1509, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Madonna and Child with a bunch of grapes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1509-1510, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder
"In the Christian world well through the Renaissance, males were associated with the head (and therefore with thinking, reason, and self-control) and females with the body (and therefore with senses, physicality, and the passions)" (Gail P. Streete's "The Salome Project: Salome and Her Afterlives", 2018, p. 41).
During Renaissance Salome became an erotic symbol of daring, uncontrollable female lust, dangerous female seductiveness, woman's evil nature, the power of female perversity, but also a symbol of beauty and complexity. One of the oldest representations of Dance of Salome is a fresco in the Prato Cathedral, created between 1452 and 1465 by Filippo Lippi, who also created some paintings for Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary.
In April 1511, Sigismund informed his brother, King Vladislaus, that she wants to marry a Hungarian noblewoman. He chose Barbara Zapolya. The marriage treaty was signed on 2 December 1511 and Barbara's dowry was fixed at 100,000 red złotys. Barbara was praised for her virtues, Marcin Bielski wrote of her devotion to God and obedience to husband, kindheartedness and generosity.
The painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder in Lisbon depict her as Salome wearing a fur-trimmed coat and a fur hat. It was offered to the Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon by Luis Augusto Ferreira de Almeida, 1st Count of Carvalhido. It is possible that the painting was sent to Portugal in the 16th century by the Polish-Lithuanian court. In 1516 Jan Amor Tarnowski, who was educated at the court of the Jagiellonian monarchs, and two other Polish lords were knighted in the church of St. John in Lisbon by King Manuel I. More than one decade later, in 1529 and again in 1531 arrived to Poland-Lithuania Damião de Góis, who was entrusted by King John III of Portugal with a mission to negotiate the marriage of Princess Hedwig Jagiellon, a daughter of Barbara Zapolya, with king's brother.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1510-1515, National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1535 a lavish wedding ceremony was held at the Wawel Castle in Kraków. Hedwig, the only daughter of Sigismund I the Old and his first wife Barbara Zapolya was married to Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg.
The bride received a big dowry, including a casket, now in The State Hermitage Museum, commissioned by Sigismund I in 1533 and adorned with jewels from the Jagiellon collection, made of 6.6 kg of silver and 700 grams of gold, adorned with 800 pearls, 370 rubies, 300 diamonds and other gems, including one jewel in the shape of letter S. The same monogram is visible on the sleeves of Hedwig's dress in her portrait by Hans Krell from about 1537. A ring with letter S is on the Sigismund I's tomb monument in the Wawel Cathedral and he also minted coins with it. Hedwig undoubtedly took also with her to Berlin a portrait of her mother.
The portrait of a woman with necklace and belt with B&S monogram, dated by the experts to about 1512, which was in the Imperial collection in Berlin before World War II, now in private collection, is sometimes identified as Barbara Jagiellon, Duchess of Saxony and Barbara Zapolya's sister-in-law.
The necklace and belt in form of chains with initials is clearly an allusion to great affection, thus the letters must be initals of the woman and her husband. If the painting would be an effigy of Barbara Jagiellon, the initials would be B and G or G and B for Barbara and her husband George (Georgius, Georg), Duke of Saxony. The monogram must be then of Barbara Zápolya and Sigismund I, Hedwig's parents, therefore the portrait is the effigy of her mother.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya (1495-1515), Queen of Poland with necklace and belt with B&S (Barbara et Sigismundus) monogram by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop, ca. 1512, Private collection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza by Venetian painter
"As for beauty, it is in no way different from the portrait that Mr. Chryzostom brought, her hair is lovely light blonde, when (oddly enough) her eyelashes and eyebrows are completely black, eyes rather angelic than human, forehead radiant and serene, nose straight without any hump or curvature", described Bona Sforza d'Aragona on 21 December 1517 in his letter to King Sigismund I, Stanisław Ostroróg, castellan of Kalisz.
Already in 1517 the royal banker and main supplier of Sigismund, Jan Boner, was ordered to bring from Venice satin in three colors: crimson, white and black, red velvet and brocade and to purchase a ring with a large diamond in Kraków or Venice for 200 or 300 red zlotys for the king's wedding.
The effigies of the Queen from 1520s and 1530s confirms her particular liking for different types of hairnets, most probably to expose her beautiful hair, while chasubles she founded, possibly made from her dresses (in Kraków and Łódź), confirms that similar fabrics and embroideries to these visible in the portrait were in her possession.
The arch, dress, hairnet and hair style in the effigy of Queen Bona published in Kraków in 1521, are astonishingly alike. The printmaker was undoubtedly basing on Queen's painted portrait, possiby another version of the painting in London. The rabbit hunt on her bodice is an allusion to Queen's fertility and ability to produce male heirs to over 50 years old Sigismund.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland against the backdrop of an arch by Venetian painter, possibly Francesco Bissolo, ca. 1520, National Gallery in London.
Portraits of Dukes of Masovia Stanislaus and Janusz III by Giovanni Cariani and Bernardino Licinio
"They both surpassed many kings by their household, world elegance and war gear, and were also worthy of their famous ancestors", wrote in his work Topographia siue Masoviæ descriptio, published in Warsaw in 1634 Andrzej Święcicki, a notary of the Nur region, about Stanislaus and Janusz III, Dukes of Masovia.
On 28 October 1503 died Konrad III the Red, Duke of Masovia. He was succeeded by his two minor sons jointly under the regency of their mother Anna (1476-1522), an ambitious member of the Lithuanian Radziwill family. Apart from Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), she was the mother of two daughters Sophia (1497/1498-1543) and Anna (ca. 1498-1557).
Anna's firm hand displeased the nobles. She was the regent of Masovia until 1518, when, as a result of a rebellion of the nobility, ignited by her former lover Mrokowski, she was forced to cede power to her grown-up sons. Despite the formal transfer of power, Anna retained real power until her death in 1522. In 1516 the Duchess asked the Emperor to support her daughter's candidacy as a wife for the Polish king Sigismund I, he however decided to marry Bona Sforza. In 1518 she and her children attended the wedding ceremony of Sigismund I with Bona in Kraków.
The old Duchess was known for her lavish lifestyle and her inclination towards men. She had an affair with Jan Mrokowski, whom she promoted to the position of the Archdeacon of Warsaw in 1508 and later with Andrzej Zaliwski, who was made castellan of Wizna (the third most important office in the principality). She also cared for the sexual education of her sons having made available to them at one point in their adolescence 8 of her court ladies, among which was the daughter of the Płock voivode, Katarzyna Radziejowska, who was later accused of poisoning the dukes.
Their love of drink and women and their dissolute lifestyle most likely contributed to the premature death of both dukes. Stanislaus died on August 8, 1524 in Warsaw and Janusz III during the night of 9 to 10 March 1526. They were buried in the Saint John's Cathedral in Warsaw. Their sister Anna founded a tomb monument, the earliest example of a Renaissance sculpture in Masovia, created by Italian sculptor around 1526, most probably Bernardino Zanobi de Gianotis, called Romanus, from Florence or Rome, who was active in Poland since 1517. The slab, made of "royal" red Hungarian marble, preserved the destruction of the temple during the World War II and depict the dukes together, embraced. Both dukes were shown together in all known, before this article, effigies - created in the 17th century after original from about 1510s (in the State Hermitage Museum and the Royal Castle in Warsaw).
Upon death of young princes their Duchy was annexed by Sigismund I while Bona Sforza was frequently accused of poisoning Stanislaus and his brother.
According to anatomical and anthropological studies of skeletons of both dukes, published in 1955, Janusz III (skeleton 1) was subnordic and approximately 176.4 cm high and Stanislaus (skeleton 2) nordic type with "reddish hair" and approximately 183 cm high. The specialist examinations did not reveal any traces of poison. Both princes were buried in costumes made of Venetian silk - fragment of fabric with medallions from Janusz III's coffin and fragment of damask fabric with a crown motif from Stanislaus' coffin. The coffins were probably covered with a silk fabric with eagles, a tree of life and a stylized flower-shaped crown (now in Museum of Warsaw), created in Lucca in the end of the 15th century.
Apart from trade, significant contacts between Masovia and Venice date back to the Middle Ages. In 1226 Konrad I, Duke of Masovia and Kuyavia, having difficulty with constant raids over his territory and willing to become the High Duke of Poland, invited the religious military order of the Teutonic Knights to pacify his most dangerous neighbours and safeguard his territory. This decision had later much worse consequences for the entire Polish state. In 1309 the knights moved their headquarters from Venice to Malbork (Marienburg).
Double portrait known as Bellini brothers is reported in French royal collection since at least 1683 (Louvre, inventory number 107: manner of Giovanni Bellini). It is now atributed to Giovanni Cariani and the costumes are typical to about 1520, threfore this cannot be the Bellinis, who died in 1507 (Gentile) and in 1516 (Giovanni). Edgar Degas, beliving that this is the effigy of the famous Venetians, created a copy of this portrait.
This portrait is known from several versions, some of which are attributed to Vittore di Matteo, called Vittore Belliniano, son of Matteo, a pupil of Gentile Bellini. In the version in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, which was in the Solly collection in London until 1821, the men changed places. Another, with the same composition as the Louvre painting, was cut in half (one was in the Hermitage before 1937). Both paintings are now in private collections. These portraits perfectly match known iconography of both dukes of Masovia, as well as examination of their remains.
The man with "reddish hair" was also depicted in another painting, also from the Solly collection, in the National Gallery in London (bequeathed by Miss Sarah Solly, 1879). It is painted in the style of Andrea Previtali, an Italian painter also active in Venice. The "subnordic" man was depicted in several portraits by Bernardino Licinio, like the effigy holding a book in the Royal Palace of Turin (from the old collection of the dukes of Savoy), a portrait holding his fur coat, which was in the Manfrin Gallery in Venice before 1851, now in private collection, another portrait holding gloves in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (from the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in Brussels), and another against a landscape and holding a cane, in private collection.
In almost all described portraits the sitters are depicted in rich furs, including lynx, which were very expensive and of which Poland and Masovia were leading exporters at that time.
Distinctive protruding lower lip (prognathism), so-called Habsburg lip, or Habsburg or Austrian jaw, inherited trait which was present and clearly evident in the Habsburg family, was allegedly introduced into the family by Cymburgis of Masovia (1394/1397-1429), Duchess of Austria from 1412 until 1424. In his "Anatomy of Melancholy" (1621) Robert Burton, an English writer, uses it as an example of hereditary transmission (after Manfred Draudt's "Between Topographical Fact and Cliché: Vienna and Austria in Shakespeare and other English Renaissance Writing"). Protruding lower jaw is visible in all portraits by Cariani and Licinio. Also virtual reconstruction of faces of both dukes, shows the "Habsburg lip".
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), Dukes of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Louvre Museum.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), Dukes of Masovia by Edgar Degas after original by Giovanni Cariani, 1858-1860, Saltwood Castle.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), Dukes of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524), Duke of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524), Duke of Masovia by Italian painter, most probably Andrea Previtali, ca. 1518, National Gallery in London.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1518-1524, Royal Palace of Turin.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1518-1524, Private collection.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia holding gloves by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1524-1526, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia holding a cane by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1524-1526, Private collection.
Portrait of Beatrice Zurla, chamberlain of Bona Sforza by Bernardo Licinio
Bona Sforza arrived to Poland in 1518 with a retinue of thirteen noble Italian ladies, among which the most important was Beatrice Zurla. She came from a Neapolitan noble family and become a chamberlain of queen's court. Beatrice and other Ifigenia of unknown family name were paid 100 florins annually and their presence in Poland is confirmed until 1521, but they probably stayed for much longer. The poet and secretary of queen Bona, Andrzej Krzycki, allegedly called Beatrice "the scare of black and white angels".
Very less is known about her later life and close family. She was probably married or widowed as some sources called her a matron (matrona) (after "Działalność Włochów w Polsce w I połowie XVI wieku: na dworze królewskim, w dyplomacji i hierarchii kościelnej", p. 29), i.e. married woman in Roman society. Her great attachment to Bona was most probably a reason why she decided to leave her family. In 1520 a certain nobleman Leonardo Zurla, possibly Beatrice's brother or husband, built himself a magnificent palace in Crema, a city in Lombardy near Cremona, which from 1449 was part of the Venetian Republic and earlier belonged to the Duchy of Milan. In 1523 he wa sent to Venice with two other speakers, to greet the new Doge Andrea Gritti.
The portrait attributed to Bernardo Licinio in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich from about 1520, shows a Mediterranean-looking woman. The bodice of her rich gown is embroidered with a motif of vining plant, a symbol of attachment, and she holds her hand on her right breast. It is a reference to Amazons a Scythian race of female warriors, a close - knit sisterhood that valued friendship, courage, and loyalty and who supposedly, according to Hellanicus of Lesbos, removed their right breast to improve their bow strength (FGrHist 4 F 107). It is therefore a symbol of attachment to another, very important woman. The book in her left hand, as not identifiable, could be a reference to the sitter's first name and the most famous literary Beatrice, Dante's muse, Beatrice Portinari.
It is also possible that crimson color of her robe of Venetian fabric has symbolic meaning. By the mid-16th century Poland was the main exporter of Polish cochineal used to produce a crimson dye, it soon become a national symbol as majority of Polish nobility was dressed in crimson. Another symbol of her new homeland was White Eagle, just as in her bonnet. She is therefore dressed like today's Polish flag.
The painting was transferred in 1804 to Munich from the Neuburg Castle in Neuburg an der Donau.
On 8 June 1642 a great-granddaughter of Bona, princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, starost of Brodnica, married in Warsaw Philip William, heir of the Count Palatine of Neuburg. She brought a considerable dowry in jewels, estimated in 1645 at the astronomical amount of 443,289 minted thalers, and cash, calculated at a total of 2 million thalers.
By the late 16th and early 17th century, such cabinet paintings, as the portrait in Munich, of not necessarily related people, become highly praised objects in princely and royal collections in Europe and their Kunstkammer (art cabinets).
An avid collector of such items was Anna Catherine Constance's cousin Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, who had her portrait by Frans Luycx, and who accompanied her during her visit to her Austrian relatives and spa town of Baden-Baden from August and October 1639.
It is highly probable that the portrait of the chamberlain of Queen Bona was on one of 70 wagons, that transported Anna Catherine Constance's enormous dowry to Neuburg.
Portrait of Beatrice Zurla, chamberlain of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland by Bernardo Licinio, ca. 1520, Alte Pinakothek in Munich.
Portrait of royal astrologer Luca Gaurico by Giovanni Cariani
Apart from noble ladies also some scientists arrived to Poland with Bona Sforza or for her wedding in April 1518. Among them were Celio Calcagnini (1479-1541) from Ferrara, who after his sojourn at the Polish court formulated a theory on the motions of the earth similar to that proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus, and Luca Gaurico (1475-1558), known as Lucas Gauricus, an astrologer and astronomer, born in the Kingdom of Naples. It is unknown when he left Kraków, but according to some theories he was to decide about th date and artistic program of the Sigismund Chapel at the Wawel Cathedral - "Year 1519. His Highness, king Sigismund of Poland, on May 17, on Tuesday after St. Sophia [...] at 11 o'clock, began the construction of the royal chapel in the cathedral church by Italian bricklayers", according to entry in the "Świętokrzyski Yearbook".
Considered as one of the most renowned and dependable fortune-tellers, Gaurico later served as an astrologer to Pope Paul III and Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France. In the 1520s he revised some books published in Venice, like De rebus coelestibus aureum opusculum (1526) or the first Latin translation from the Greek of Ptolemy's Almagest (1528), which constituted the basis of astronomical knowledge in Europe and in the Islamic world.
The portrait by Giovanni Cariani in Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (Inv. 2201), created in about 1520, shows a man holding an armillary sphere with signs of the zodiac, against the landscape with hills (possibly Euganean Hills, from Greek Eugenes - well-born), and the bird flying through a gap in the stone wall toward the light of knowledge. He is holding a Greek/Byzantine manuscript (after Georgios Boudali's "The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity").
The inscription on the parapet in Greek and Latin is unclear and was probably understandable only to a person who commissioned or received the painting. Greek Σ ΣΕΠΙΓΙΝΟΜΕΝΟΙΣ (S Descendants) and a date in Latin AN XI VIII (Year 11 8). The year 1518, when Gaurico arrived to Poland, was the 11th year of reign of Sigismund I the Old, crowned 24 January 1507, and in August 1518 Ottoman forces besieged Belgrade, which was then under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary. Louis II, king of Hungary was Sigismund's nephew. Turkish forces finally captured the city on 28 August 1521 and continued to march towards the heart of Hungary. Greek Σ is therefore monogram of Σιγισμούνδος - Sigismund for whom the painting was created. It is highly probale that Gaurico predicted in 1518 the Turkish invasion and the fall of the Jagiellonian Empire in Central Europe.
Provenance of the painting is unknown, it is possible that it was transferred to Berlin with dowry of Hedwig Jagiellon, Electress of Brandenburg or it was taken from Poland during the Deluge (1655-1660), as such "ancient" cabinet paintings become very popular in the 17th century cabinets of art (Kunstkammer).
Portrait of royal astrologer Luca Gaurico (1475-1558) by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portraits of Magdalena Bonerówna and Nicolaus II Radziwill by Giovanni Cariani
On 11 August 1527 lady-in-waiting of Queen Bona Magdalena Bonerówna (1505-1530) married in Kraków Stanislaus Radziwill (ca. 1500-1531), a son of Nicolaus II Radziwill (1470-1521), nicknamed Amor Poloniae, a magnate and statesman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Their wedding took place in the chambers of the royal Wawel Castle, many eminent people participated in it, and the king himself mediated in a property settlement.
Magdalena, the youngest daughter of Kraków merchant Jakob Andreas Boner (1454-1517) and his wife Barbara Lechner, brought Stanislaus a huge dowry of 12,000 ducats, which is almost three times more than the magnate daughters used to receive at that time.
Jakob Andreas was brother of Johann (Hans) Boner (1462-1523), a merchant from Landau in der Pfalz, who in 1483 emigrated to Kraków. He made a great fortune in paper mills and as tradesman dealing with spices, metals, timbers, livestock, etc. He become king's banker and main purveyor to the royal court. Jakob Andreas ran family business in Nuremberg and in Wrocław and in 1512 he settled in Kraków, where he bought from his brother a house in the Main Square. His daughter Magdalena become a court lady of the Queen around 1524 or possibly earlier.
A painting by Giovanni Cariani from the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków, depict a blond lady in a dress from the 1520s. The painting was transferred to Wawel collection in 1931 from Stanisław Niedzielski's collection in Śledziejowice near Wieliczka. Earlier, it was in the collection of Wenzel Anton, Prince of Kaunitz-Rietberg, Austrian State Chancellor who contributed to the partitions of Poland. His collection was sold at an auction in Vienna in 1820 by his heirs. The same woman in similar costume was depicted as Saint Mary Magdalene in another painting by Cariani showing Sacra Conversazione with Madonna and Child, Mary Magdalene and Saint Jerome from the same period.
Mary Magdalene is a patron of women's preaching, moral rebirth and of sinful women and Saint Jerome, who encouraged the Roman women who followed him to study and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life, was a saint of particular importance to women during Renaissance.
In the National Art Museum of Belarus in Minsk, there is another portrait from the same period, painted in Cariani's style, from the Radziwill collection. Basing on 17th and 18th century paintings and engravings it is identified as effigy of Nicolaus I Radziwill (ca. 1440-1509) or Petras Mantigirdaitis (d. 1459). However a drawing from the State Hermitage Museum, created in mid-17th century or earlier (ОР-45835) bears the inscription Nicolaus II Radziwill. It is therefore a portrait of Nicolaus I's son and Magdalena Bonerówna's father-in-law who was a voivode of Vilnius from 1507 and the Grand Chancellor of Lithuania from 1510. On 25 February 1518 he received, as the first member of the family, the princely title (Reichsfürst) from the emperor Maximilian I.
Portrait of Magdalena Bonerówna (1505-1530) in white by Giovanni Cariani, 1520-1527, Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.
Sacra Conversazione with a portrait of Magdalena Bonerówna as Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Cariani, 1520-1527, Private collection.
Portrait of Prince Nicolaus II Radziwill (1470-1521) by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, National Art Museum of Belarus in Minsk.
Portrait of Stanisław Łaski by Hans Suess von Kulmbach
The portrait of a young blond man by Hans Suess von Kulmbach (interlaced monogram HK) in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, was acquired before 1918 from Richard von Kaufmann collection in Berlin. According to inscription the man was 29 in 1520 (ETAS 29 / ANNO 1520), exactly as Stanisław Łaski (1491-1550), also known as Stanislaus a Lasco or Stanislaus von Strickenhoff, a Polish publicist, orator, military theorist, traveler and diplomat.
Stanisław was a nephew of Archbishop of Gniezno Jan Łaski (1456-1531) and brother of famous figure of the Polish Reformation and royal secretary, Jan Łaski (1499-1560). From 1516 to 1518 he studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris with his brothers. He most probably returned to Poland in 1518, the same year Queen Bona arrived to Poland and Hans Suess von Kulmbach returned to Nuremberg after four years spent in Kraków, where he painted a large series of important panels for the church of St. Mary, other religious paintings and portraits of the royal family, of which only the effigy of king Sigismund I the Old preserved in Poland (Gołuchów Castle).
Around 1520 Łaski made a pilgrimage to Palestine, where he received the title of Knight of Jerusalem. On the way he visited the Balkans, North Africa and Sicily. In 1524 he visited Erasmus of Rotterdam. In the same year he entered the service of Francis I, King of France and in 1525 he took part in the battle of Pavia. It was most probably during his pilgrimage in 1520 that he could arrive to Nuremberg and commission his portrait by Suess.
Portrait of Stanisław Łaski (1491-1550) aged 29 by Hans Suess von Kulmbach, 1520, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Sacra Conversazione with Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child by Francesco Bissolo
On 1 August 1520 the queen Bona Maria Sforza (she was baptized with the names of her grandmother, Bona Maria of Savoy) gave birth to the long-awaited heir of Sigismund I, Sigismund Augustus. On this occasion the king ordered to struck a special medal dedicated to "the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God for the felicitous birth of his son Sigismund" (according to abbreviated inscription: B[EATAE] V[IRGINI] D[EI] P[ARENTI] P[ROPTER] F[ELICEM] N[ATIVITATEM] S[IGISMVNDI] INFANS SVI) and showing the scene of Annunciation to the Virgin, to emphasize queen's role as the Mother of Kings (after Mieczysław Morka's "The Beginnings of Medallic Art in Poland during the Times of Zygmunt I and Bona Sforza", 2008, p. 65).
The effigy of the blond Virgin Mary in the painting by Francesco Bissolo in the National Museum in Warsaw, bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Bona. This painting was transferred to the Museum from the Potocki collection in their Italian style palace in Krzeszowice near Kraków, nationalized after the World War II. It's earlier history is unknown, it is highly probable though, that it was acquired by the Potockis in Poland.
The scene shows the Virgin and Infant Jesus, the King of kings, the mystical spouse of Jesus, Saint Catherine, whose patronage extends to children and their nurses, Saint Peter holding in his hand the silver key of royal power and Saint John the Baptist, who was sent out by God to announce that the King is coming.
As the Polish throne was elective and not hereditary, the concept was undoubtedly to strengthen the rights to the crown for the new born child.
Sacra Conversazione with Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child by Francesco Bissolo, 1520-1525, National Museum in Warsaw.
Sacra Conversazione with portraits of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza by Bonifacio Veronese
Sigismund I, the fifth son of King Casimir IV Jagiellon and Elizabeth of Austria (1436-1505), received the name of his maternal great grandfather, Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia. Saint Sigismund, his patron saint, was King of the Burgundians and patron of monarchs. When father of Sigismund of Luxembourg, Charles IV, transferred Saint Sigismund's relics to Prague in 1366, he become a patron saint of the Kingdom of Bohemia. In 1166, bishop Werner Roch brought to Płock from Aachen a particle of the skull of Saint Sigismund and king Casimir III the Great commissioned a reliquary in 1370 from Kraków goldsmiths (Diocesan Museum in Płock), later adorned with the 13th century "Piast diadem".
The king was represented as a kneeling donor in several miniatures in his Prayer Book, created by Stanisław Samostrzelnik in 1524 (British Library) and as one of the Magi in the Adoration of the Magi by Joos van Cleve, created between 1520-1534 (Gemäldegalerie in Berlin). In such form, however this time more like Saint Sigismund, he is depicted in the painting by Bonifacio Veronese (born Bonifacio de' Pitati). His effigy is very similar to the painting by Titian in Vienna and by Joos van Cleve in Berlin, but he is much younger. A rich crown is placed beside him and he is accompanied by his favourite little dog. The landscape behind him is very Netherlandish in style, it is therefore possible that it was commissioned together with the painting by Joos van Cleve, as a part of international propaganda of the Jagiellonian state. The king is receiving or giving the globe to the Infant Jesus. He was elected, but was anointed and crowned before the Lord in the Wawel Cathedral, therefore his power comes from the God. The Infant might also represent his newly born son Sigismund Augustus.
Queen Bona is shown as Saint Elizabeth, a cousin of Mary and mother of Saint John the Baptist. As a patron Saint of pregnant women, of her mother Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan, and of her distant relative, powerful Queen Isabella I of Castile (Isabel, from medieval Spanish form of Elisabeth), she was of particular importance for the young queen of Poland. Saint Elizabeth conceived and gave birth to John in her advanced age, therefore the painter depicted her older, the effigy, however, is still very similar to the portrait of "Duchess Sforza" by Titian and her portrait as Virigin Mary by Francesco Bissolo in Warsaw. The scene of Visitation of Elizabeth by Mary is one of the most important in her Prayer Book created by Stanisław Samostrzelnik between 1527-1528, adorned with her coat of arms and showing her as the Virgin (Bodleian Library). The Church has added Saint Elizabeth's words to the Virgin "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" to the Angelical Salutation.
The painting is in the Medici collection in Florence since the early 18th century (Palatine Gallery) and it was previously attributed to Palma il Vecchio. In private collection in Rome there is a copy of this painting, painted in the style of Bernardino Licinio.
Sacra Conversazione with portraits of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza by Bonifacio Veronese, ca. 1520, Pitti Palace in Florence.
Sacra Conversazione with portraits of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza by workshop of Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Adoration of the Magi with a portrait of king Sigismund I the Old by Joos van Cleve, ca. 1520-1534, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1655 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, created in 1569 with support of the last male Jagiellon and Bona's son, Sigismund Augustus, was invaded by neighbouring countries from north, south, east and west - the Deluge (1655-1660). Royal and magnate residencies in Warsaw, Kraków, Grodno and Vilnius and other locations were ransacted and burned which resulted in the loss of works by Cranach, his son and his workshop and a loss of memory of the royal effigies and their patronage.
The effigies of unknown monarchs were destroyed, but erotic paintings were undeniably interesting to simple soldiers.
The portrait in Stockholm bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Bona. It is dated by experts to 1520-1525 and Sweden was one of the invaders in 1655, however we can only assume that it was taken from Poland. It's also very similar in form and face features to the Wilanów painting, showing Bona holding a bouquet of forget-me-nots.
The eroticism was very important for the queen. In her portrait by Venetian painter from about 1520 she is shown with a rabbit hunt on her bodice, a clear allusion to her fertility. The subject of Nude Venus was frequent in Italian painting of the renaissance (Botticelli, Giorgione) and the Stockholm painting counts among the oldest by Cranach, so was Bona the first to introduce the subject to Cranach, thus creating a new fashion?
It is an erotic, private painting, hence we cannot search any reference to her status as the queen, it's the resemblance that counts.
After the birth of his son in 1520, Sigismund I was frequently absent, occupied with war with Muscovy (1512-1522) on north-eastern border, leaving his wife in Kraków in southern Poland. A small painting, this one is 90 x 49.5 cm (35.4 x 19.4 in), would be a good reminder of his wife's affection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1521, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1623 hetman Marcin Kazanowski (1563-1636) founded a church for the Carmelites in Bołszowce (today Bilshivtsi in Ukraine). He most probably ordered a painter in Warsaw or Kraków to copy some painting from his own or royal collection to the main altar of the new church. The painting, now in Gdańsk, is astonishingly similar to the Madonna and Child under an apple tree by Lucas Cranach the Elder in The State Hermitage Museum.
The latter painting was acquired by Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia and King of Poland in 1843, hence possibly from a collecion in Poland. The effigy of Mary (Maria) bears a great resemblance to the effigies of Bona Sforza. Bona Maria Sforza was baptized with the names of her grandmother, Bona Maria of Savoy. In Poland the name Maria was at that time reserved solely to the Virigin Mary, hence she could not use it. She could however allow herself to be depicted as the Virigin, according the Italian custom, in her Prayer Book and private paintings.
In antiquity goddesses of victory commonly were depicted standing upon royal apples. Christians adapted the symbol by setting a cross above the ball to signify the world dominated by Christianity. Thereafter the "imperial apple" became an important emblem of the royal power invested in the monarch - orb (after Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Finally the topography and the castle in the background are very similar to these visible in a print published in 1544 in Cosmographie Universalis and showing Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child under an apple tree by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1521-1525, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a child
The fact that the portait exist in at least four different versions and in different locations: one was acquired in Rome in 1839, one is in Gorhambury House in England since at least 18th century, the other two in the US were acquired from different European collections, indicate that depicted child was an important person, a heir to the throne of a major European country. "No detail of good Renaissance painting was without an intended symbolic meaning", also the gesture. The child is pictured holding an apple (an age old symbol of the fruit of knowledge and emblem of royal power - an orb) in his right hand (field of action), whilst holding his left hand over his heart (charitable and useful) (after "Dedication to the Light" by Peter Dawkins).
The costume is similar to the garments visible in the portraits of sons of Francis I of France from the early 1520s, however the hand gesture and facial features are astonishingly similar to these visible in a print published in Kraków in 1521 and showing one year old Sigismund Augustus. The boy's appearance (blond hair, dark eyes, a bit retracted jaw) are also similar to these known from the effigies of Sigismund Augustus' mother - Bona Sforza.
Sigismund Augustus has dark hair in his portraits. Hair color in children tends to darken with advancing age so was the famous light blond of Bona and her daughters another trick of poisonous Sforzas? The Experimenti compiled by Bona's aunt Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forli is a compilation of recipes for "curing headache, fever, syphilis, and epilepsy; lightening the hair or improving the skin; treating infertility, making poisons and panaceas; and producing alchemical gems and gold" (after "Becoming a Blond in Renaissance Italy" by Janet Stephens).
According to experts the portraits were created by different Venetian and German workshops, this is another indicator that they were commissioned by multicultural Jagiellonian court.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus (1520-1572) as a child holding an apple by German or Venetian painter, ca. 1521, The Clark Art Institute.
Portraits of Anna of Masovia by Bernardino Licinio and Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Stanislaus and Janusz, sons of Konrad, Duke of Masovia, from the ancient Polish kings, the last male offspring of Masovian princes, ruling happily for 600 years. The young men both excelled with good honesty and innocence, with the power of a premature and unfortunate destiny in short intervals, with great sorrow of their subjects, died: Stanislaus, in the year of salvation, 1524, at the age of 24, and Janusz in 1526, at the age of 24; after the death of which the inheritance and reign over the entire Masovia passed to the king of Poland, Anna, the princess, adorned with virginity and unparalleled honesty, made her brothers with bitter tears [this monument]", reads the incription in Latin on the tombstone plaque of the last Dukes of Masovia (destroyed during World War II).
Venetian painting workshops during Renaissance had a great advantage over German or Netherlandish. Painters gradually modified the technique, which allowed them to create paintings much faster and they used canvas, so they could create in a much larger format. The canvas was also far less heavy than wood and one man could transport several paintings to different locations. Many of these paintings remained in artists' ateliers in Venice as a modello or a ricordo. The women in two portraits by Bernardino Licinio resemble greatly the "Masovian brothers".
Anna of Masovia was born in about 1498 as the second daughter of Duke Konrad III the Red and Anna Radzwill. She had an elder sister Sophia. In 1518 Casimir, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach shattered a lance in her honor during the great jousting tournament organized to celebrate the wedding of Sigismund and Bona Sforza. Two years later, on 17 September 1520 in Warsaw, her sister Sophia was married by proxy to Stephen VII Bathory, Palatine of Hungary, and on 17 January 1521 she left for Hungary with her entourage. On the night of March 14-15, 1522, Duchess Anna Radziwill died in Liw. She was buried in St. Anne's Church in Warsaw. Her daughter Anna was from now on, at the age of about 24, the eldest member of the family in Masovia.
The portrait by Licinio in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest depict a young woman in a simple white shirt, black coat of Venetian satin lined with fur and a cap of black brocaded damask. She holds an open book on a marble block with a date 1522 (MDXXII) and a solitary oak leaf. Oak was a symbol of power, authority and victory in the Roman times. "In moralizations the oak represented patience, strength of faith, and the virtue of Christian endurance in the face of adversity. As such, it was depicted as the attribute of Job and martyred saints in Renaissance art" (after Simona Cohen, "Animals as Disguised Symbols in Renaissance Art", 2008, p. 86). The provenance of the painting in Hungary is not known, threfore it is highly possible that Anna of Masovia sent to her sister Sophia her portrait in mourning for the death of their mother.
In 1525, Albert of Prussia asked for Anna's hand in marriage. His dynastic endeavors as well as plans to marry Anna to his brother William of Brandenburg, were stopped by the firm policy of Bona Sforza. Soon after, Queen Bona, not wanting to exacerbate internal conflicts, resigned from marring her, despite the insistence of the Masovian nobles, to her son Sigismund Augustus. The facial features of two women in paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder entitled Portrait of a courtly lady, in private collection, and Venus and Cupid, in Compton Verney, are very much alike. It is also the same woman as in the portraits by Licinio, her facial features, protruding lower lip and expression are identical. The painting in Compton Verney bears a date 1525 (indistinct), a date when it was proposed to marry Anna with a nephew of King of Poland, newly created Duke of Prussia (after secularisation of the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights), who was painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder several times (e.g. portrait in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, dated 1528). The woman in the effigy of a courtly lady in wide red hat decorated with plumes from about 1530 was most probably hoding a flower in her left hand, just as Queen Bona in her portrait by Cranach in the Wilanów Palace. The painter possibly forgot to add it or changed the concept, which might indicate that the painting was one of a series dedicated to possible suitors. In 1536 Anna finally married Stanisław Odrowąż, voivode of Podole, who already in 1530 was planning to marry her.
In March 1526, almost two years after Stanislaus, died Janusz III, the last male member of the Masovian Piasts. In his last will from 4 March 1526 he left majority of his belongings in money, jewels, precious stones, pearls, gold, silver and movable goods to his sister Anna, and some garments to his courtiers, like a robe and a bonnet lined with sables to Piotr Kopytowski, castellan of Warsaw or a silk robe to Wawrzyniec Prażmowski, castellan of Czersk.
The organisation of funeral was postponed, to await the arrival of King Sigismund. Sudden death of both young dukes, in a short time, sparked the suspicion that their deaths were not natural. The main suspect was Katarzyna Radziejowska, who after being seduced and abandoned by both princes, was believed to have poisoned the dukes and their mother Anna Radziwill. The woman and her supposed accomplice Kliczewska confessed to the gradual poisoning of the duke and both were sentenced to endure the horrible death.
The rush to execute the sentence raised even more suspicion that, in fact, the real instigator of the crime was Queen Bona. The logical explanation was related to the queen's ambitious plans for Masovia, which she wanted for her son Sigismund Augustus. The contemporary chronicler, however, Bernard Wapowski, citing a scene he witnessed himself denies these allegations: "When the young duke, warmed by the example of a few similar revellers, ordered to pour wine in his throat, as a result of which in two weeks he bid farewell to the world". Despite this, rumors spread and more and more people began to accuse the Polish queen.
A group of nobles associated with the Masovian court, opposing the incorporation of the Duchy into the Crown, proclaimed Anna as a duchess. Soon after, however, the Ducal Council concluded a compromise with the Polish king as the incorporation was beneficial for them. Anna had to accept the salary from Sigismund I, lands near Goszczyn and Liw and the "Small Manor" (Curia Minor) at the Royal Castle in Warsaw as her residence, until she got married.
The king set up a special commission to deal with the matter of the death of the dukes. On February 9, 1528, he issued an edict in which he stated that the princes "weren't victims of a human hand, but was the will of the Almighty Lord that caused their deaths".
The portrait by Bernardino Licinio in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, shows the same woman as in the portrait in Budapest holding a portrait of a man, very similar to the portrait by Licinio depicting a man holding a cane (Janusz III). She is dressed in black and the bodice of her rich dress is embroidered with a motif of dogs, a symbol of loyalty and fidelity. The landscape in the background with a castle is very similar to the castle in Płock, the ancient capital of Masovia (till 1262), the de facto capital of Poland between 1079 to 1138 and a seat of one of the oldest dioceses in Poland, established in 1075. Between 1504-1522, the Bishop of Płock was Erazm Ciołek (1474-1522) a diplomat, writer and patron of the artists, who travelled to Rome, studied in Bologna with Filippo Beroaldo and negotiatied the marriage of Sigismund I with Bona Sforza. He was followed in 1522 by Rafał Leszczyński (1480-1527), educated in Padua and the secretary of Prince Sigismund during his reign in the Duchy of Głogów and after his death by Andrzej Krzycki (1482-1537), secretary of Queen Bona, patron of arts and a poet writing in Latin, who was studying in Bologna under prominent humanists. In this painting Anna wanted to express that she would not renounce Masovia.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1522, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525, Compton Verney.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) holding a portrait of her brother Janusz III by Bernardino Licinio, 1526-1528, Castello Sforzesco in Milan.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) in a hat decorated with plumes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Private collection.
Portrait of Jakub Uchański by circle of Hans Asper
The portrait of an unknown man from the 1520s can also be assigned to the circle of renaissance court of the Jagiellons. It is an effigy of man aged 22 transferred to the National Museum in Warsaw from the Krasiński collection in Warsaw. According to the inscription in Latin it was created in 1524 (ANNO • DOMINI • MD • XXIIII / • ANNOS • NATVS • XXII • IAR / • RB • / • IW •), the man was therefore born in 1502, just as Jakub Uchański (1502-1581).
Uchański was educated at the collegiate school in Krasnystaw. Then he was employed at the court of the Lublin voivode and starosta of Krasnystaw, Andrzej Tęczyński, becoming one of the administrators of the voivode's vast estates. Tęczyński recommened him to the Crown referendary and the future bishop of Poznań, Sebastian Branicki.
He was later a secretary and administrator of Queen Bona's estate and Interrex (regent) during royal elections. Despite the fact that in 1534, he was ordained a priest, he secretly favored the Reformation, loosening the dependence of the Catholic Church in Poland on Rome and even supporting the concept of a national church. As a canon he secretly attended, together with Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski to theological disputes in the dissenting spirit of Queen Bona's confessor Francesco Lismanini (Franciszek Lismanin), a Greek born in Corfu.
The Warsaw portrait is very similar in style to effigies created by Swiss painter Hans Asper, a pupil of Hans Leu the Younger in Zurich, especially to the portrait of a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) from 1531 in the Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Even the artist's signature is painted in similar style, however the letters does not match. According to convention the portrait in Warsaw is signed with monogram IW or VIV. This Monogrammist IW, could be other pupil of Leu, who left the country for Poland during the episodes of iconoclasm in Zurich between September and November 1523, instigated by the inflammatory preaching of Zwingli, which led, among others, to the destruction of a large part of works by his master. Another possible explanation is that the painting was created by Asper, the monogram is a part of undetermined titulature of Uchański (Iacobus de Vchanie ...) and the artist intentionally used crimson background to designate a foreigner, a Pole (Polish cochineal).
Portrait of Jakub Uchański (1502-1581) aged 22 by circle of Hans Asper, 1524, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of Stanisław Oleśnicki and Bernard Wapowski by Bernardino Licinio
In 1516, together with Bernard Wapowski, Jan Dantyszek, Andrzej Krzycki and Stanisław Tarło, who all studied at the Kraków Academy, Stanisław Oleśnicki (1469-1539) of Dębno coat of arms, become a secretary of king Sigismund I.
He was the son of Feliks Jan Oleśnicki and Katarzyna Gruszczyńska and the nephew of the Zbigniew Oleśnicki (1430-1493), bishop of Gniezno and primate of Poland. From 1492 he was a canon of Gniezno, a canon of Sandomierz from 1517, a canon of Kraków from 1519, a cantor of Gniezno from 1520 and a deputy of the king to the sejmik of the Kraków voivodeship in Proszowice in 1518 and in 1523. He also acted as secretary to Queen Bona Sforza.
A signed portrait by Bernardino Licinio (P · LYCINII·) in the York Art Gallery shows a clergyman holding a half open missal with both hands. According to inscription in Latin (M·D·XXIIII·ANNO · AETATIS · LV·) the man was 55 in 1524, exactly as Stanisław Oleśnicki, born in 1469. The same man was also depicted in the painting by Licinio in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, most probably acquired in 1815 from the Giustiniani collection in Rome.
In the private collection there is a portrait of an astronomer from the same period, attributed to Giovanni Cariani, although stylistically also very close to Licinio. He is holding astronomical rings consisting of three brass rings that swiveled inside each other and engraved with hours of the day, compass directions, and other measurments. It was an instrument used by astronomers, navigators, and surveyors (after Ann Heinrichs' "Gerardus Mercator: Father of Modern Mapmaking", 2007, p. 44).
Bernard Wapowski (ca. 1475-1535), called Vapovius, considered to be the "Father of Polish Cartography", who together with Oleśnicki become royal secretary in 1516, studied with Copernicus in Kraków, before leaving to Italy, where he studied in Bologna beteen 1503-1505 and then left for Rome. He returned to Poland in 1515, when he was about 40. He become cantor and canon of Kraków in 1523. Three years later in 1526 he assisted his life-long friend Copernicus, "with whom he wrote about the motion of eight sphere" (motu octavae sphaerae), in mapping the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The same year he created and published in Kraków his most notable map, the first large-scale (1:1,260,000) map of Poland.
Portrait of Stanisław Oleśnicki (1469-1539), cantor of Gniezno by Bernardino Licinio, 1524, York Art Gallery.
Portrait of Stanisław Oleśnicki (1469-1539), cantor of Gniezno by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1524, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of an astronomer, most probably Bernard Wapowski (ca. 1475-1535), called Vapovius by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza as Mary Magdalene by Lucas Cranach the Elder
On 11 February 1524 died in Bari Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan, mother of Bona Sforza d'Aragona, who after the collapse of the Sforzas in Milan and her family in Naples, was granted the title of suo jure Duchess of Bari and Princess of Rossano. The duchies that Bona inherited from her mother were involved in the struggle between French and Spanish forces of the Habsburgs for control of Italy. When Emperor Charles V re-conquered Milan from the French in 1521, Francesco II Sforza, member of a rival branch of the family, was appointed its duke.
Fearing the growing influence of the Habsburgs, Bona strove to tighten cooperation with France. In July 1524 Hieronim Łaski signed a treaty with France in Paris on behalf of Sigismund I, which reversed the Polish alliance with the Habsburgs agreed at the Vienna Congress of 1515. It was agreed that Henry, the younger son of the French king Francis I or the Scottish king James, will marry one of the daughters of Sigismund I, Hedwig or Isabella, and that Sigismund Augustus will marry a daughter of Francis I.
Determined to regain Lombardy, Francis I, unsuccessful competitor of Charles V for the imperial dignity, invaded the region in mid-October 1524. He was, however, defeated and taken prisoner at Pavia on 25 February 1525, guaranteeing Spanish control of Italy. This battle changed dramatically the situation for Bona. The marriage plans with the French court had been cancelled and Bona had to accept the engagement of her only son with Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of younger brother of Charles V, Ferdinand and his wife Anna Jagellonica.
The triumphant Emperor was reluctant to acknowledge Bona's rights to her mother's succession. Diplomatic efforts of the Polish court were finally successful and on 24 June 1525 Ludovico Alifio, Bona's court chancellor, finally took on her behalf the inherited Italian possessions.
The painting by Cranach from 1525 in Cologne, an imperial city, whose Archbishop was one of the electors of the Holy Roman Empire and the chief officiant during the coronation ceremony of the Emperor, shows Bona as a sinful woman, Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had cast out demons and who then became an important follower and interlocutor of Jesus (Luke 8:2). She is depicted with a vessel of ointment, in reference to the Anointing of Jesus, and her hair covered with translucent penitential veil. The forest is symbolic for the religious suffering of the penitent, while deer is a symbol of Christ. Saints Eustace and Hubert converted to Christianity by seeing a stag with a cross.
Finally the landscape to right is very similar to the view of Mola (now Mola di Bari), a Venetian city close to Bari, with Castel Novo, an Aragonese castle, which remained loyal to Naples, published by Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg in 1582. The view to the left can be compared with the topography of Rossano, a town built on a large rock.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) as Mary Magdalene by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
Miniature portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525, Private collection.
Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon and her stepmother Bona Sforza against the idealized view of Kraków by Lucas Cranach the Elder
1526 was a very important year for the Jagiellons. In January the main port of the Kingdom, Gdańsk, and other cities of Royal Prussia revolted againt the Crown. On March the Duchy of Masovia had fallen to the Crown after the heirless death of the last male member of the Masovian Piasts, Janusz III (Bona was accused of poisoning the duke).
On May 22, 1526 Bernardino de Muro and Andrea Melogesio, on behalf of the inhabitants of Rossano, swore an oath of allegiance to Bona Sforza and Sigismund the Old in the Wawel Cathedral, so-called "Italian Homage".
And finally in August the Ottoman Empire invaded Hungary and Sigismund I's nephew, Louis II, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia was killed in the battle of Mohács.
The portraits of ladies from the Coburg Fortress dated by experts to about 1526 and from The State Hermitage, dated 1526 on the windowsill, are very similar to miniatures of Hedwig and her stepmother Bona from the same period. Face features and costumes are almost identical.
The topography in the landscapes, althought idealized nd viewed through the lens of artistry of Cranach, match perfectly the capital of the Kingdom - Kraków (Cracow). In the portrait of Hedwig we can see the Wawel Royal Castle and Vistula river towards Tyniec Abbey in the south, as in a print published in 1544 in Cosmographia Universalis, and in the portrait of Bona we can distinguish the Wawel Hill with Sandomierz Tower towards Zwierzyniec Monastery in the north.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) against the idealized view of Kraków by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1526, Veste Coburg.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) against the idealized view of Kraków by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1526, Schloss Fasanerie in Eichenzell.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1526, sold at Hôtel Drouot in Paris on 30 October 1942, lost.
Sigismund I and Katarzyna Telniczanka as David and Bathsheba by Lucas Cranach the Elder
According to the Bible, king David, whilst walking on the palace roof, accidentally espies the beautiful Bathsheba, the wife of a loyal soldier in his army, bathing. He desired her and made her pregnant.
Most probably in about 1498, when Crown Prince Sigismund (1467-1548) was made Duke of Głogów by his brother Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary, he met a Moravian or Silesian lady Katarzyna Telniczanka (ca. 1480-1528). She become his mistress and bore him three children: Jan (1499-1538), Regina (ca. 1500-1526) and Katarzyna (ca. 1503-1548).
In 1509, when already King of Poland, Sigismund decided to marry. That same year Katarzyna was married to Sigismund's friend, Andrzej Kościelecki, who was made Grand Crown Treasurer in reward. The only child born of this union, Beata (1515-1576), later a court lady of queen Bona, was reputed to be the child of the king as well.
Kościelecki died on 6 September 1515 in Kraków, Sigismund's first wife Barbara Zapolya passed that same year on 2 October 1515 and almost three years later, on 15 April 1518, he married Bona. During this period Katarzyna was undoubtedly close to Sigismund and her daughters were raised with his only legitimate daughter at that time, Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573), who in 1535 moved to Berlin as the new Electress of Brandenburg, taking a large dowry and many family souvenirs with her.
The small painting by Cranach from 1526, acquired in 1890 by Gemäldegalerie from Frau Medizinalrat Klaatsch in Berlin, shows a courtly scene with Bathsheba bathing her feet in the river. The main character however is not Bathsheba, nor the King David standing on a high terrace to the left. It's a lady standing in the right foreground, who most probably commissioned the painting. Her effigy and costume is astonishingly similar to the portrait of queen Bona holding a bouquet of forget-me-nots created the same year. She is holding Bathsheba's shoes, a clrear sign of approval for the royal mistress Telniczanka, a life-long companion of her husband, who was depicted as Bathsheba.
We could also distinguish two of Telniczanka's daughters to the left, most probably Katarzyna, who according to some sources was married the same year to George III, count of Montfort, and Regina, who died in Kraków on 20 May 1526. There's also king Sigismund as biblical king David - the king was depicted as king Solomon, David's son, in the marble tondo in his funerary chapel at the Wawel Cathedral and possibly also as king David (or king's banker Jan Boner). Beside him there's his son Jan, who was his secretary from 1518 and in 1526 it was planned to make him a Duke of Masovia and marry him to the Princess Anna of Masovia.
This miniature could be considered as a proof ordered by Bona to be sent to the king, busy with state affairs in the north of Poland, that two of his women live in peace and harmony in Kraków in southern Poland.
The same woman, Bathsheba - Telniczanka, was also depicted in the small painting which was before World War II in the Branicki Palace in Warsaw, converted into the British Embassy in 1919. It is considered to be lost, however according to Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, No. 247 it is in a private collection in New York. The work shows Venus with Cupid stealing honey, which has been interpreted as an allegory of the pleasure and pains of love. Fragment of Latin inscription reads: And so do we seek transitory and dangerous pleasures / That are mixed with sadness and bring us pain (SIC ETIAM NOBIS BREVIS ET PERITVRA VOLVPTAS / QUAM PETIMVS TRISTI MIXTA DOLORE NOCET).
The effigy of unknown lady from the National Gallery in London created around the year 1525, matches perfectly the portrait of the eldest daughter of Telniczanka, Regina Szafraniec, in the Berlin painting. On October 20, 1518 in the Wawel Cathedral, she married the starost of Chęciny and a royal secretary, Hieronim Szafraniec. The letter M on her bodice is a reference to her patron saint, Maria Regina Caeli, Latin 'Mary, Queen of Heaven', as the name Mary (Maria) was at that time in Poland reserved solely to the Virgin.
Portrait of a young woman with an apple, a symbol of the bride in ancient Greek thought, from about 1525, also lost during World War II (other version in Toulouse), is very similar to the effigy of one of the daughters of Telniczanka in the Berlin painting. It is undoubtedly Katarzyna, countess of Montfort.
Sigismund I and Katarzyna Telniczanka as David and Bathsheba by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526-1528, Branicki Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II.
Portrait of Regina Szafraniec (ca. 1500-1526), natural daughter of king Sigismund I by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525-1526, National Gallery in London.
Portrait of Katarzyna, countess of Montfort (ca. 1503-1548), natural daughter of king Sigismund I by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525-1526, Puttkamer Palace in Trzebielino, lost during World War II.
Bust-length portrait of Katarzyna, countess of Montfort (ca. 1503-1548), natural daughter of king Sigismund I by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525-1526, Fondation Bemberg in Toulouse.
Portrait of Bona Sforza holding myosotis by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In February 1526 the king Sigismund I went from Kraków in southern Poland to Pomerania in the north to take an active stand against the revolted Gdańsk and other cities of Royal Prussia. He then proceeded to Masovia, which had fallen to the Crown after the heirless death of the last princes of the house of Piast. He returned to the capital on 23 September 1526. He was absent for almost a year leaving his pregnant second wife Bona Sforza in Kraków (on 1 November 1526 she gave birth to her daughter Catherine Jagiellon).
The portrait of a woman by Lucas Cranach the Elder dated 1526 and coming from the old collection of the royal Wilanów Palace (most probably acquired before 1743), bears a great resemblance to the effigies of Bona Sforza. It is of small dimensions (34.9 x 23.8 cm or 13.7 x 9.3 in), a good item to be taken on a journey or to be sent to someone with a love letter.
The woman is holding a bouquet of myosotis, colloquially denominated forget-me-nots, a symbol of true love and fidelity and holding her left hand on her belly.
Portrait of Bona Sforza holding myosotis (forget-me-nots) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
Portrait of Hedwig Jagiellon hodling an apple by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
In 1527 just 14 years old Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573), the only daughter of king Sigismund I the Old and his first wife Barbara Zapolya, was one of the most ardently desired brides in Europe.
Among numberless suitors for her hand were sons of the Brandenburg elector and Stanislaus, Duke of Mazovia in 1523, Frederick Gonzaga, proposed by Pope Clement VII and James V, King of Scotland proposed by Francis I, King of France in 1524, Janusz III, Duke of Masovia, Frederic Gonzaga (again) and Francis II Sforza, Duke of Milan in 1525, Gustav I Vasa, King of Sweden and Francis I, King of France proposed by her uncle Jan Zápolya, King of Hungary in 1526, Louis X, Duke of Bavaria in 1527 and in 1528 and Luis of Portugal, Duke of Beja in 1529 etc.
The portrait of a lady hodling an apple from the Prague Castle Picture Gallery by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop from 1527 bears a strong resemblance to the portrait of Hedwig portrayed in her wedding dress with monogram S of her father by Hans Krell in about 1537, and a portrait of her mother by Cranach.
It also very similar in composition and format to the portrait of her stepmother Bona Sforza holding forget-me-nots dated 1526 (Wilanów Palace), therefore both portraits might be commissioned in the Cranach's workshop at the same time. She is holding an apple, a longstanding symbol of kingship and royalty - the royal orb, and a strong symbol of the bride in ancient Greek thought (Sappho, Plutarch).
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) hodling an apple by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, 1527, Prague Castle Picture Gallery.
Portrait of royal courtier Stanisław Bojanowski by Bernardino Licinio
A Renaissance painter, Bernardino Licinio, was most probably born in Poscante north of Bergamo and close to Milan in about 1489. His family was well established at Murano and at Venice by the end of the fifteenth century and he was first recorded as a painter there in 1511.
The portrait by Licinio in the Pushkin Museum, shows a young, twenty-one year old Stanisław Bojanowski (1507-1555), a nobleman and influencial courtier who become a secretary of king Sigismund Augustus in 1543. He is depicted in red żupan (from Arabic dіubbah or giubbone, giuppone, giubba in Italian) of Venetian silk and wearing a fur coat, holding one hand on his belt and the other on a volume of Petrarch's poetry (F PETRARCHA).
The painting was purchased by the Museum in 1964 from the collection of Anatol Zhukov in Moscow, who acquired it in 1938. It's earlier history is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that it was acquired in Poland.
Bojanowski was an educated man, lover of Italian poetry, he possibly, as many Poles, studied in Padua and/or Bologna, when he could order his portrait in nearby Venice, or like his royal patrons he sent a drawing with his effigy to Licinio. He reportedly was the author of the lost book of "bad novels", as it was expressed in the Acts of the Babin Republic.
Apart from the age (ANNO AETATIS SVE. XXI) also the date of the portrait is mentioned, 1528 (MD. XXVIII), a date when Baldassare Castiglione's "Book of the Courtier" (Il Cortegiano) was first published in Venice.
Shrewd and witty Bojanowski, a model of a typical Renaissance nobleman, become a leading figure of Łukasz Górnicki's "Polish Courtier" (Dworzanin polski), a paraphrase of the Castiglione's Il Cortegiano, published in Kraków in 1566. It is very probable that Bojanowski purchased a volume of the first edition of Castiglione's oeuvre.
He is buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Kraków, where his epitaph of sandtone and red marble, most probably created by workshop of Venetian trained sculptor, Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano (who created tomb monuments of two wives of Sigismund Augustus), bears the following inscription in Latin: Stanislaus Bojanowski ex majori Polonia, Patriis bonis contentus esse nolens aulam, et ejus promissa secutus, anno domini 1555 Cracoviæ mortuus antequam vivere didicisset ætatis 47 (Stanislaus Bojanowski of Greater Poland, unwilling to be content with his country's court, and following his promises, he died in Kraków in the year of our lord 1555, before he had learned how to live, at the age of 47).
Portrait of royal courtier Stanisław Bojanowski (1507-1555) by Bernardino Licinio, 1528, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
Portraits of Duchess Anna of Cieszyn by Lucas Cranach the Elder
On 1 December 1518 Princess Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1487-1539), third daughter of Sophia Jagiellon, Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach and a cousin of Louis II, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, married Prince Wenceslaus of Cieszyn, of the Piast dynasty. Earlier that year her uncle, Sigismund I, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania married Bona Sforza.
Wenceslaus was made co-ruler of his father in 1518 as Wenceslaus II and a Duke of Cieszyn (Teschen), one of Silesian duchies, created in 1290 during the feudal division of Poland. The Duchy was a fiefdom of the Bohemian kings since 1327 and was incorporated into the Lands of the Bohemian Crown in 1348. Anna bore him a son, who died shortly after birth, and two daughters, Ludmila and Sophie. The second son of Wenceslaus - Wenceslaus III Adam was born after his father's death on November 17, 1524. The old Duke Casimir II, who outlived his two sons, died on 13 December 1528. Since the time of his birth, as his only heir, Wenceslaus III Adam was placed under the guardianship of his grandfather, who had him engaged to Mary of Pernštejn (1524-1566) when he was just one-year-old.
In his will, the Duke left his Duchy to his grandson under the regency of his mother Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach and the Bohemian magnate John IV of Pernštejn (1487-1548), called "The Rich". The young duke was sent to be educated at the imperial court in Vienna.
After death of Louis II during the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Habsburgs took the western part of divided Hungary and Bohemia. Both Hungary and Bohemia were elective monarchies and the main goal of the new ruler, Ferdinand I, was to establish a hereditary Habsburg succession and strengthen his power in territories previously ruled by the Jagiellons, also in Silesian duchies.
A painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop in Kassel shows a woman in allegorical guise of biblical heroine Judith, who cleverly defeated an enemy who has been feigning friendship. Her hat, instead of a brooch, is adorned with a gold coin, so-called Joachim thaler minted in Kingdom of Bohemia from 1519 until 1528. The crowned Bohemian lion with title of king Louis, LVDOVICUS PRIM[us]: [D] GRACIA: R[ex]: BO[hemiae]: is clearly visible. The new coins minted by Ferdinand I in 1528 shows his personal coat of arms on reverse and his effigy on horseback, amidst a group of subjects paying homage to him on obverse.
In the backgound of the painting there is a distant town of Bethulia, however the castle on the top of a fantastic hill is very similar to the shape of the Cieszyn Castle, visible in a drawing from 1645.
The same woman is also depicted as Lucretia, the Roman heroine and a victim of the tyrant's abuse, whose suicide ignited the political revolution, in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm (most probably taken from Prague by the Swedish army). It is dated 1528 and the castle atop the fantastic rock is similar to Fryštát Castle used by the Dukes of Cieszyn as their second seat. The castle was built in 1288 and reconstructed in the first half of the 15th century by Duchess Euphemia of Masovia. In 1528 John IV of Pernštejn, who was made governor of Moravia by Ferdinand I in 1526, relocated the ducal court to Fryštát Castle.
The widowed Duchess Anna, beyond doubt, opposed all these actions against her power and commissioned some paintings, to express her dissatisfaction. Famous Lucas Cranach, the court painter of her aunt Barbara Jagiellon, Duchess of nearby Saxony, which also opposed the Habsburgs, was the obvious choice.
Portrait of Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1487-1539), Duchess of Cieszyn as Judith with the head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop, 1526-1531, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1487-1539), Duchess of Cieszyn as Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1528, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Bona Sforza as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1530 Bona Maria Sforza has won an important battle. In 1527, as a result of a fall from a horse, the queen prematurely gave birth to her second son, Albert, who died at birth. After this event, the she could not have any more children. That same year she was depicted as the Virigin Mary, according the Italian custom, in her Prayer Book, created by Stanisław Samostrzelnik, exposing her beautiful hair before ladies dressed in German style and loosely based on German graphics.
Polish throne was elective and German Hohenzollerns (who took over Prussia) and Habsburgs (who took from Jagiellons Bohemian and Hungarian crown) were relatives of her son with rights to the crown. To secure the throne to him she came up with an idea of unprecedented election vivente rege (the election of a successor during the lifetime of the king). Despite huge opposition from Polish-Lithuanian lords the ten-year-old Sigismund Augustus was first made Grand Duke of Lithuania and then crowned King of Poland on 20 February 1530.
At that time it become fashionable at the court of her sister-in-law Barbara Jagiellon in nearby Saxony to be depicted in the guise of Judith. The biblical heroine, clever and cunning, who having seduced and then beheaded Assyrian general who besieged her city with his own sword, was a perfect prefiguration of a typical Sforza. The subject, well known to Italian art, was not so explored in the Northern art before Cranach, so was Bona the first to introduce it to the German painter? The painting is in Imperial collection since at least 1610, so does she personally sent it to the Habsburgs as a sign of her victory?
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Bona Sforza (1494-1557) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a child by Lucas Cranach the Elder
The portrait of a boy from the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, dated in lower left corner 1529, can be consequently identified as Bona's son. Sigismund Augustus, was elevated to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on 18 October 1529 and on 18 December 1529 the Diet in Piotrków proclaimed him the king of Poland.
He was crowned the next year in the similar garments to these visible in the portrait. The inventory of the State Treasury from 1555 mentions: "tibalia (stockings), dalmatics, gloves and a small sword" and the inventory of 1599 mentions: "a velvet dress with gold stripes, in which the late King Augustus was crowned". Only his shoes on a platform covered with red velvet preserved, today at the Wawel Castle.
The boy wears a jewelled wreath with a feather, which traditionally marks an engagement. In 1527 Sigismund I agreed to marry his son with his cousin who was only eight months old, Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), and proposed an engagement after the archduchess turned seven.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus (1520-1572) as a child in a red tunic by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
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