Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon and Anna Jagellonica by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Despite numerous suitors for her hand, the Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon remained unmarried at the age of 17. In 1529, Krzysztof Szydłowiecki and Jan Tarnowski proposed to Damião de Góis, envoy of John III, king of Portugal, to marry Hedwig to king's brother Infante Louis of Portugal, Duke of Beja. At the same time negotiations were carried to marry her to Louis X, Duke of Bavaria and Habsburgs, on April 18, 1531 proposed Frederick, brother of Louis V, Count Palatine of the Rhine.
To attract suitable marriage proposal, Hedwig's father continued to amass a considerable dowry for her. He commissioned the most luxurious items in Poland and abroad, like the casket, created by Jacob Baur and Peter Flötner in Nuremberg in 1533, adorned with jewels from Jagiellon collection (Hermitage Museum). He also charged his banker Seweryn Boner with the acquisition in Venice of some lengths of silk, several hundred ells of satin, five cloth of gold bales, thirty bales of fine Swabian and Flemish linen as well as pearls for 1,000 florins. In her letter of 19 April 1535 the Princess asked her father for a larger amount of cloth of gold.
The marriage was a political contract, and Princess' role was to seal the alliance between countries by producing offspring. Thanks to this she could also have some power in her new country and Hedwig's stepmother, Bona Sforza, knew perfectly about it. It was she who probably took care of providing some erotic items in Hedwig's dowry.
In 1534 it was finally decided, in secret from Bona, who was unfavorable to the Hohenzollerns, that Hedwig will marry Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg and the marriage contract was signed on 21 March 1535. Sigismund commissioned some portraits of Hedwig from court painter Antonius (most probably Antoni of Wrocław), which were sent to Joachim.
The groom arrived to Kraków with a retinue of 1000 courtiers and 856 horses and Sigismund's nephew Albert, Duke of Prussia with his wife Dorothea of Denmark and 400 people. Apart from 32,000 red zlotys in cash Hedwig also received from her father robes, silverware, "other indispensable utensils", money for personal use, as well as a rich bed with canopy (canopia alias namiothy), which she took with her to Berlin.
A large painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder from about 1530 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, which was transferred from the Royal Prussian Castles in 1829/1830, shows Hedwig as Venus and Cupid. This erotic painting was undeniably part of her dowry.
A portrait from the same collection, which depicts Hedwig as Judith with the Head of Holofernes and dated 1531, was acquired from Suermondt collection in Aachen. As the portraits of her stepmother, it most probably also has a political meaning, or the Princess just wanted to be depicted as her beautiful stepmother.
Aachen was an Imperial City, where coronations of emperors were held till 1562 and in 1815, control of the town was passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. Already in 1523 Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg wanted Hedwig's hand for one of his sons. It is possible that her portrait as Judith was sent to the Hohenzollerns or to the Habsburgs already in 1531 to underline that the Jagiellons would not permit them to take their crown.
A similar painting to that of Hedwig's, depicting Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder and dated 1531, is in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. It was aquired in 1611 and bears the same inscription as effigy of Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus. The woman has features of Hedwig's cousin Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547), Queen of Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. Anna was a daughter of Vladislaus II, King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia, elder brother of Sigismund I, and his third wife, Anne of Foix-Candale. On 26 May 1521 she married Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, grandson of Emperor Maximilan I, who was elevated to the title King of the Romans by his brother Emperor Charles V in 1531.
On her golden hairnet embroidered with pearls there is a monogram W.A.F.I. or W.A.F. which can be interpreted as Wladislaus et Anna (parents), Ferdinandus I (husband), Wladislaus et Anna Filia (daughter of Vladislaus and Anne) or Wladislaus et Anna de Fuxio (Vladislaus and Anne of Foix). Similar monogram of her parents WA is visible on a golden pendant at her hat in her portrait at the age of 16 by Hans Maler, created in 1520 (private collection).
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547) as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Borghese Gallery in Rome.
Portraits of Beata Kościelecka by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Bernardino Licinio
"0 Beata, adorned so rich in rare charms, You have a virtuous and honest speech, The worthy and unworthy of you still adore you, The gray-haired, though prudent, they go crazy for you" (O Beata decorata rara forma, moribus / O honesta ac modesta vultu, verbis, gestibus! / Digni simul et indigni te semper suspiciunt / Et grandaevi ac prudentes propter te desipiunt), wrote in his panegyric modeled on the hymn in honor of the Virgin Mary, entitled Prosa de Beata Kościelecka virgine in gynaeceo Bonae reginae Poloniae (On Beata Kościelecka a maiden in the household of Bona, Queen of Poland, II, XLVII), Andrzej Krzycki (1482-1537), Bishop of Płock and secretary of Queen Bona.
In 1509 when king Sigismund I was obliged to marry by the Piotrków Diet, his mistress Katarzyna Telniczanka was married to his associate Andrzej Kościelecki. The king secured her in the form of an annual salary and made Kościelecki Grand Treasurer of the Crown and starost of Oświęcim. Kościelecki, who was Polish-Lithuanian envoy in Buda between 1501-1503, was a talented and dedicated manager of royal treasury. When in 1510 a huge fire broke out in royal salt mines in Wieliczka, he and Seweryn Bethman descent into the shaft to put out the fire.
Marriage with king's mistress caused a great indignation of Kościelecki's relatives, who were leaving the Senate when the treasurer appeared there.
Kościelecki died in Kraków on 6 September 1515 and on 2 October 1515, after a long illness, died Queen Barbara Zapolya, first wife of Sigismund. When just few weeks after Kościelecki's death Telniczanka gave birth to her daughter Beata, meaning "blessed" (between 6 September and 20 October), everybody at the court gossiped that her real father was Sigismund.
Beata was raised in the royal court together with other children of the king. In 1528 when Beata was 13, Anna, Zuzanna and Katarzyna three daughters of Regina Szafraniec, eldest daughter of Telniczanka, brought a claim against Beata before the royal court concerning a house in Kraków bought by Telniczanka after 1509, a carriage, four horses and a toque embroidered with large pearls valued at 600 zlotys. Two years later Kościelecki's testament was brought before the royal court by Andrzej Tęczyński, voivode of Kraków in a dispute with Kościelecka.
The painting of Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the National Gallery of Denmark (transferred in 1759 to the Danish royal collection from the Gottorp Castle) is very similar in composition to the portrait of Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus from the Branicki Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II. Also the woman depicted is very much alike. It bears the date 1530 on a stone in lower right corner of the painting. As Telniczanka died in 1528, it cannot be her. The same woman is also in the two other paintings by Cranach. One similar to other portraits of Telniczanka's daughters from the 1520s is in the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki (acquired in 1851 from the collection of future Tsar Alexander II). According to sources it is dated 1525, however the date is today almost invisible and could be also 1527 when Beata reached her legal age of 12 and could be married. The other, in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (donated in 1928 by Leon Cassel), also of Venus and Cupid, is dated 1531 on the tree trunk. It is very similar to portrait of Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) and Queen Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547) as Venus from the same period. The woman is also depiced in the portrait by Bernardino Licinio from 1532 in private collection, signed and dated by the artist on a postument (M·DXXXII B·LVCINII· OPVS). She is holding gloves and keeping her hand on a postument. This portrait is very similar to the effigy of royal mistress Diana di Cordona by Licinio in Dresden. It is almost like a pendant, their poses and costumes are identical. The woman's headdress or a toque, called balzo, embroidered with gold is adorned with flowers very similar to clematis Beata.
From the 1530s noble ladies throughout Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine wanted to be depicted in the pose of a Roman lady or a courtesan from the Flavian period in their tomb monuments (e.g. monument to Barbara Tarnowska née Tęczyńska by Giovanni Maria Padovano from about 1536 in the Tarnów Cathedral), a pose similar to that known from the Venus of Urbino (portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon). In their portrait paintings, all wanted to be a goddess of love.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1527, Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530, National Gallery of Denmark.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka by Bernardino Licinio, 1532, Private collection.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by Bernardino Licinio
Bona's tutor Crisostomo Colonna (1460-1528), a member of the Pontano Academy, a poet from the Petrarch school, taught her Latin, history, theology, law, geography, botany, philosophy and mathematics. She in turn, who was considered a lover of Virgil and Petrarch, was the first teacher of her son Sigismund Augustus, born in 1520, hence the book.
Two leopards on her bodice, denoted as symbols of strength, intelligence, bravery, justice, and valor, holding stylized S, is clearly an allusion to her family name: Sforza (from sforzare, to force), a nickname given to Muzio Attendolo in the 1380s for his strength and determination and his abilities to suddenly reverse the fortunes of battles.
The whole pattern can be compared with that visible on a fountain in the Dukes' Courtyard of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan from the late 15th century.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Government Art Collection, UK.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by Giovanni Cariani
From 1524, after death of her mother, Bona was also Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right. Throughout her life she dressed in Italian style and purchased in Italy pearl embroidered velvets, thin Florentine cloths, intricate Venetian chains and ornaments. She also received garments from Italian Princes, like in 1523, when Isabella d'Este (1474-1539), Marchioness of Mantua and a leader of fashion at that time, sent to Bona silk and golden caps in return for sable skins. Two years later, the Marchioness also sent six caps and four pairs of fashionable stockings. In a letter from Kraków of July 20, 1527 Bona expressed her gratitude to Isabella's daughter Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino for beautiful caps she has sent her.
In May 1543 during entry to Kraków for coronation of Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), the lords and knights of the Kingdom were dressed in all sorts of costumes: Polish, German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Turkish, Tatar, Spanish, Muscovy, Cossack and Venetian. The young king Sigismund Augustus was dressed in German style, probably as a courtesy for Elizabeth. Bona started to wear her distinctive outfit of a widowed elder lady most probably around 1548, after death of Sigismund I, a medal from 1546 shows her with a large décolletage.
Before 1862 in the Sibyl's Temple at Pulawy, which memorialized Polish history and culture, there was a "fan of Queen Bona" and inventory of Bona's belongings in Bari includes a wonderful chronometer hidden inside a fan made of bird feathers and set with jewels.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a fan by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland in a striped dress by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Musée Jacquemart-André.
Portraits of Stanisław Lubomirski and Laura Effrem by Bernardino Licinio and Giovanni Cariani
"For Peace and Freedom. Old masters: a collection of Polish-owned works of art, arranged by the European Art Galleries, Inc., to help to maintain the exhibit of Poland at the World's Fair, New York, 1940." This is the title of official catalogue of 77 paintings, mostly from the Łańcut Castle, displayed in the Polish Pavilion during the New York World's Fair opened on 30 April 1939. On 1 September and 17 September 1939, the Second Polish Republic was again invaded and partitioned by its neighbours. World War II begun and paintings never returned to Łańcut.
Among them were a portrait of a green-eyed nobleman attributed to Lorenzo Lotto and a portrait of a lady attributed to Paris Bordone, both holding gloves. The portraits, now in private collections, have similar dimensions (99.4 x 74.9 cm / 88 x 74.5 cm) and compostion, they are almost like pendants. The woman is now holding a little dog and the effigy of a man bears inscription DOMINICHO / RADISE, which was not visible before. It was most probably added after 1940 to make him close to the Radise family living in New York since about 1920, as no Dominicho or Domenico Radise is reported in sources. Both paintings are stilistically close to Giovanni Cariani, also known as Giovanni Busi or Il Cariani.
The woman was also depicted in two other paintings from the same period, one attributed to Palma Vecchio in Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden and the other, most probably a modello or a ricordo to previous, attributed to circle of Bernardino Licinio in private collection. The painting in Dresden, entitled Resting Venus, was most probably acquired for the collection of Augustus II, King of Poland.
According to a bill of the picture, it was bought through the dealers Lorenzo Rossi and Andreas Philipp Kindermann in 1728 in Venice for 2000 Taleri, however since the painting is also described in inventory from 1722 it could be that it was confused with another painting of Venus attributed to Sassoferrato. The frame is adorned with king's monogram AR (Augustus Rex) and the Eagle of Poland. It cannot be excluded that it was offered to the king during his visit to the Łańcut castle in 1704 or later by members of the Lubomirski family. The version attributed to Licinio comes from the Heinemann Gallery in Munich.
Renaissance-baroque Łańcut Castle was built between 1629-1641 as palazzo in fortezza (fortress palace) for Stanisław Lubomirski (1583-1649), voivode of the Kraków by Italian architect Matteo Trapola on the site of previous, most probably wooden castle of the Pilecki family. Stanisław's grandfather was another Stanisław (d. 1585), son of Feliks Lubomirski, owner of the Sławkowice and Zabłocie estates.
In May 1537 he married a Queen's lady-in-waiting Laura Effrem (Laura de Effremis), coming from an old family noble from Bari, related to the Carducci, Dottula, Alifio, Piscicelli and Arcamone families, belonging to the immediate circle of Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and her daughter Bona. Laura received from the queen a dowry of 1,200 zlotys and jewels worth 350 zlotys, as well as twenty cubits of damask.
According to letter of Queen's secretary Stanisław Górski to a poet Klemens Janicki dated 10 June 1538 in Kraków "Italian Laura, who had married Stanisław Lubomirski a year ago, having come here at the Queen's request after Easter, in the house where the maids and matrons are staying, gave birth to a son." The son died in infancy, Laura most probably died four years later in 1542 and Stanisław married Barbara Hruszowska with whom he had three children.
The portraits could also depict Piotr V Kmita Sobieński (1477-1553), Grand Marshal of the Crown and one of the most trusted followers of Queen Bona, and his first wife Anna Górka (d. 1537). They married in about 1519 and around that time he rebult in renaissance style his castle in Wiśnicz, near Kraków, which was later reconstructed by Trapola between 1615-1621 for the same Stanisław Lubomirski who built the castle in Łańcut.
Portrait of a noblewoman with pearls in her hair, most probably Laura Effrem by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of a noblewoman, most probably Laura Effrem, as Resting Venus by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Portrait of a noblewoman from the Łańcut Castle, most probably Laura Effrem by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of a nobleman from the Łańcut Castle, most probably Stanisław Lubomirski (d. 1585) by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Private collection.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus as a boy by circle of Titian
Hereditary and absolute monarchs of Europe had no interest whatever in preserving the memory of elective rulers of Poland-Lithuania, especially after decline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as a leading European power following the destructive Deluge (1655-1660) and its dissolution following the partitions in the late 18th century. That is why the identity of the Jagiellons, Vasas and even of king Wiśniowiecki or members of the Sobieski family in their portraits sent to European courts was lost in oblivion.
In 1529, through the intercession of queen Bona, a courtier with a stormy and dissolute life, Giovanni Silvio de Mathio (Joannes Silvius Amatus) from Palermo, called Siculus was appointed the tutor of nine years old Sigismund Augustus. He also obtained the Vitebsk parish and the Vilnius canon with Bona's support. Siculus was a doctor of both laws and lecturer of Greek at the Kraków Academy. He died at 90 years of age in about 1537.
Siculus left Padua, under the rule of the Republic of Venice, for Vienna in 1497 and Kraków in about 1500. When in Poland, he frequently ordered copies of Greek texts from Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) in Venice. The first edition of the controversial work by Philostratus "Life of Apollonius of Tyana", printed in Venice between 1501 and 1504 by Manuzio, was in a private library of king Sigismund Augustus, now in Saint Petersburg (after Alodia Kawecka-Gryczowa, Biblioteka ostatniego Jagiellona, 1988, pp. 291-292). It tells the story of the first century philosopher and magician and concerns pagan magic and secret sciences.
As an ardent follower of Neoplatonic ideas at the Sigismund's court and opponent of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Siculus spread rumors in Kraków that Erasmus had been put under a church curse.
Platonism affirms the existence of abstract objects that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas, as in a quote from Plato's Timaeus, which reads "this world is indeed a living being endowed with soul and intelligence." For Plato, the term ''Anima Mundi'' meant ''the animating principle of matter.''
The painting from the collection of Cardinal Mazarin, possibly originally from the French royal collection, recorded in the inventory of 1661 as a work of Titian (no. 912), shows a little boy and his tutor holding hands on a globe with figures which looks like floating souls and similar to the print Integra naturae speculum artisque imago, published in Robert Fludd's Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet ... from 1617-1618.
The portrait of a boy in costume and, more northern, hairstyle, typical for 1530s is mentioned for the first time in 1646 by Balthasar de Monconys as placed in the Tribuna of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the most important antiquities and paintings from the Medici collection were displayed, and with attribution to Titian. the boy's features are very similar to those on a series of portraits from about 1521 showing Sigismund Augustus as a child, while the costume to the medal by Giovanni Padovano from 1532.
Both paintings were undoubtedly commissioned by queen Bona to be sent to major European courts.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a boy with his tutor Giovanni Silvio de Mathio by circle of Titian, ca. 1529, Louvre Museum.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a boy by circle of Titian, ca. 1532, Uffizi Gallery.
Portraits of Sigismund I the Old and Bona Sforza by Titian
In 1808 Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840), younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, acquired the "Portrait of the Duchess Sforza" along with 26 other paintings from the Riccardi collection in Florence. This painting was sold in London on May 1816. Also the inventory of the collection in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence from the end of the 17th century lists the painting as Titian in the quarta stanza (fourth room) and as Ritratto d'una Duchessa Sforza (Portrait of a Duchess Sforza, Carte Riccardi, Archivio di Stato, Florence, fil. 267, c. 256 r.). The 15th century Palazzo Medici-Riccardi remained the principal residence of the Medici family until 1540 when Cosimo I moved his principal residence to the Palazzo Vecchio.
The woman is dressed in a fashionable, damask, fur-lined gown and green cap, called a balzo embroidered with gold, typical for the 1530s fashion in Italy. She wears the heavy gold paternoster girdle and a long string of pearls, which were very costly.
This cannot be Christina of Denmark, who in 1534 at the age of 12 became Duchess of Milan as a wife Francesco II Sforza, as her face features do not match the painting by Titian, the sitter is older and Christina was not a Sforza. The sitter's face is very similar to other known effigies of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, Grand Duchess of Lithuania and also Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right, Duchess Sforza.
A portrait of an old man in a dark tunic by Titian in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has identical dimensions as portrait of Duchess Sforza - 88 x 75 cm (34.6 x 29.5 in) / 88.9 x 75.5 cm (35 x 29.7 in) and similar composition, just as later portraits of Sigismund II Augustus and his third wife Catherine of Austria. Both are painted on canvas.
The man holds his left hand on a band of the coat, showing two rings that certify the high social status. The portrait was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels and was included in the Theatrum pictorium (Theatre of Painting), a catalog of 243 Italian paintings in the Archduke's collection, under number 57, one number after portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski by Bernardino Licinio (56). Both portraits entered therefore the Archduke's collection at the same time.
David Teniers the Younger copied the portrait in the 1650s. This miniature, painted on panel, is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The sitter's face is very similar to other known effigies of King Sigismund I the Old from the 1530s.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old by Titian, 1532-1538, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza by Titian, 1532-1538, Private collection.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old by David Teniers the Younger after Titian, 1650s, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old from the Theatrum Pictorium (57) by Jan van Troyen after Titian, 1660, Princely Court Library Waldeck.
Portraits of Diana di Cordona by Bernardino Licinio and Lucas Cranach the Elder
The portrait of an Italian lady in crimson robe by Bernardino Licinio was first recorded in the inventory of Dresden collection in 1722. It is highly probable, that just as other paintings from the royal collection it was taken from Warsaw in 1720 by Augustus II the Strong. It shows a woman in her thirties wearing an elaborate costume of a noble. Her bonnet is embroidered with gold thread and adorned with flowers of gold and enamel or precious stones. The pattern on the bonnet is very much like a gentian, called Diana (Gentiana Diana), which owes its name to Roman goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, childbirth and the Moon. Diana was also one of the goddesses of night, therefore dark blue was her color. The pattern with some violet flowers and three main plants is also very similar to flowering cardoon (cardo in Italian and Spanish), exactly as in the coat of arms of the Sicilian noble family of Spanish-Catalan origin, Cardona. The motif is threfore a reference to sitter's name Diana de Cardona, better known under Italianized version of her name Diana di Cordona.
The portrait is signed and dated (M.DXXXIII / B. LYCINII. P) on the niche behind the figure and in an underlying layer of paint (P [or B]. LICINI. F [or P] / MDXXX [?]), both partly obliterated.
In 1533 Sigismund I ordered his banker, Seweryn Boner, to order in Bruges for himself and his wife Bona 60 tapestries with the coats of arms of Poland, Milan and Lithuania, 26 pieces without coats of arms and 6 very expensive "figural" tapestries. It is highly possible that around that time some paintings and portraits were also commissioned.
Also in the same year Queen Bona wanted to change her hereditary Rossano principality into the estate of Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, Prince of Bisignano. As a daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan her Italian inheritance was very important to Bona. After an accident in 1527 she could not have more children, so she put all her faith in her only son, Sigismund Augustus, who rechaed legal age of 14 years old in 1534, for continuation of the dynasty. To facilitate his entry into adulthood, she agreed or possibly even arranged his affair with her lady-in-waiting Diana di Cordona, who was just five years younger than Bona (born in 1494).
Raised by Countess Ribaldi in Rome, Diana had an abundant life and allegedly infected Sigismund Augustus with syphilis. When the young king married in 1543, she most probably left for her native Sicily.
The same woman as in the Dresden portrait by Licinio was also depicted in the painting from the same pariod by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. It was acquired in Berlin in 1918 from the collection of the painter Wilhelm Trübner. It's earlier history is unknown. It is possible that it was taken from Poland during the Deluge - "the elector [of Brandenburg] himself took to Prussia as a spoil, the most valuable paintings and silverware of the royal table", wrote Wawrzyniec Jan Rudawski about the looting of royal residencies in Warsaw in 1656.
The painting shows Diana the Huntress as the nymph of the Sacred Spring, whose posture recalls Giorgione's and Titian's Venuses, a clear inspiration by Venetian painting. The inscription in Latin, which reads: FONTIS NYMPHA SACRI SOM: / NVM NE RVMPE QVIESCO (I am the Nymph of the Sacred Spring: Do not disturb my sleep. I am resting.), indicate that the client who ordered the painting was not speaking German, therefore could be either Queen Bona or Diana herself.
Egeria, the nymph of a sacred spring, celebrated at sacred groves close to Rome, was a form of Diana. In the grove at Nemi, near Rome there was a spring, sacred to Diana. She was believed to bless men and women with offspring and to assist mothers in childbirth. Two partridges in the painting is a symbol of sexual desire as according to Aelian (Claudius Aelianus) partridges have no control over it (after Steven D. Smith's "Man and Animal in Severan Rome: The Literary Imagination of Claudius Aelianus", p. 183).
Portrait of Diana di Cordona, mistress of king Sigismund Augustus by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Diana di Cordona, mistress of king Sigismund Augustus as Diana the Huntress-Egeria by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus and Sigismund the Old by Christoph Amberger
On 10-11 November 1530 a marriage treaty on behalf of ten-year-old king Sigismund II Augustus and his four-year-old cousin Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), eldest daughter of Anna Jagellonica, Queen of Bohemia and Hungary, was signed in Poznań. On this occasion Elizabeth's father Ferdinand I, commissioned a series of portraits of his daughter and her three-year-old brother Maximilian from his court painter Jacob Seisenegger (Mauritshuis, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum). Everybody in Europe should know who will be the future Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania and who will be the future King of Bohemia and Hungary, despite the fact that the crowns of these countries were elective. Around 1533, when Sigismund Augustus was approaching the legal age of marriage (14), and his mother Bona wanted to break off the engagement or postpone the marriage, he most probably ordered an armour for the young king of Poland, created by Jörg Seusenhofer (Wawel Royal Castle). Its breastplate and sleeves proudly display the monogram formed by interweaving capital letters "E" and "S" (Elisabetha et Sigismundus). In 1537 Seisenegger created another portrait of eleven-year-old Archduchess Elizabeth and of her brother Maximilian.
The king of Poland undeniably received a portrait of his fiancée, and she received his portrait. The portrait attributed to Christoph Amberger in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna was acquired in the 18th century by Joseph Wenzel I, Prince of Liechtenstein. It shows a young man in a costume and hairstyle from the 1530s, similar to that visible in portraits of Archduke Maximilian by Seisenegger, bronze medal with a bust of Sigismund Augustus by Giovanni Maria Mosca, created in 1532, and anonymous print from 1569 after original effigy from about 1540. The collar of his shirt is embroidered with gold thread with depiction of the dextrarum iunctio (hand in hand), highly popular in Roman art. In the Roman world marriage was considered a dextrarum iunctio, a joining of hands and "the right hand was sacred to Fides, the deity of fidelity. The clasping of the right hand was a solemn gesture of mutual fidelity and loyalty" (after Stephen D. Ricks "Dexiosis and Dextrarum Iunctio: The Sacred Handclasp in the Classical and Early Christian World", 2006, p. 432). It was a popular motif in engagement rings. Some gold rings with this symbol preserved in Poland (Wawel - third quarter of the 16th century, Konin - 1604).
Face features of the young man bears strong resemblance to other portraits of Sigismund Augustus, especially his portrait by Jan van Calcar in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
"He is of medium height, gaunt, with black hair and a stringy beard, dark - complexioned and and does not seem to be very strong, but rather feeble, and therefore he could not stand great hardships and exertion and often suffers from podagra. [...] In his youth he liked to dress richly, he wore Hungarian and Italian robes of various colors, today he always wears a long robe and does not use any other color except black", described the aging king few years before his death the Papal Nuncio Giulio Ruggieri in 1568. Being involved in many affairs and holding a large number of mistresses, historians agree that the king contracted the "Italian disease", as the French called syphilis.
Two years earlier, in 1565, another Ruggieri, Flavio from Bologna, reported about Polish women that "adding charms by artificial means or dyeing their hair is a great disgrace to them". Sigismund's mother Bona Sforza was described as a lovely bright blonde with black eyelashes and eyebrows. Her court as Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right was on the other hand full of peoples of dark complexion and of Mediterranean descent. The word for a woman in Old Polish is białogłowa, literally meaning "white head", which most probably refers to fair hair of young women (after Łukasz Gołębiowski's "Lud polski, jego zwyczaje, zabobony", published in 1830, p. 112) or a white cap.
It is possible that later in his life Sigismund was darkening his hair to look more masculine and less "feeble", while his mother and sisters were lightening the hair to look more like a "white head", his hair darkened with age, he inherited a hair anomaly from his mother, painters used cheaper dark pigments to create copies, portraits and sitters' appearance was intentionally adapted to recipients - more northern look and costume for northern Princes, more southern look and costume for southern Princes, as a part of diplomacy, or painters received just a general drawing with sitter's appearance and adjusted the details (eye and hair color) to how they imagined the sitter.
Christoph Amberger, primarily a portrait painter, was active in Augsburg, a Free Imperial City. A portrait of Emperor Charles V, brother of Ferdinand I, from 1532 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin is attributed to Amberger. In Poland there is a portrait of an old man from Leon Piniński's collection, also attributed to Amberger, which was bequeathed in 1931 to the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków. Before World War II in the royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, there was another portrait attributed to Amberger. It was identified as effigy of Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Duke of Burgundy due to some resemblance to his portraits and the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, that was established in 1430 by his father Philip the Good. The man's costume however does not match the fashion of the second half of the 15th century, it is more similar to that visible in portrait by Amberger in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, described above. Both men are also similar.
On March 7, 1519 in Barcelona, at the Chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Emperor Charles V, granted Sigismund I the order along with the king of Denmark Christian II. The face features of a man from Wilanów portrait resemble greatly other effigies of king Sigismund I identifed by me, Marcin Latka, e.g. portrait by Titian in Vienna and effigy by Joos van Cleve in Berlin.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus by Christoph Amberger, ca. 1534, Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old by Christoph Amberger, 1530s, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II.
Portraits of Sigismund I the Old by Jan van Calcar
The portrait of an old man in a fur coat by Jan van Calcar from private collection is very similar to the effigies of king Sigismund I the Old published in Marcin Kromer's "De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum" from 1555 and Marcin Bielski's "Chronicle of Poland" from 1597. It bears a mysterious and ambiguous inscription in Latin: ANNO SALVTIS 1534 27 / ANNA AETATIS VERO MEAE / 40 (year of salvation 1534 27 / in the actual year of my age / 40) which, however, fit perfectly the events in Sigismund's life around the year of 1534. That year Sigismund was celebrating 27th anniversary of his coronation (24 January 1507) and his wife Bona Sforza her 40th birthday (2 February 1494), so the portrait could be a gift from her to please 67 years old Sigismund.
The portrait of a 70 years old man (inscription ANNO ATAT. SVAE * LXX * on the base of the column) with a dog attributed to Venetian school, stylistically is very similar to the previous one. Also the depicted man is undeniably the same, just much older, or more realistic. The difference in details, like eye color might be beacuse the portraits were not taken from nature or the one with darker eyes is a copy of some other effigy. Hedwig Jagiellon, Sigismund's eldest daughter, has bright eyes in her portrait by Hans Krell from about 1537 and dark in other. The compostion is close to known portraits by Calcar, who entered Titian's Venetian studio in 1536.
The king's particular liking for little doggies is confirmed by sources. When he was over thirty years old and staying at the Hungarian court of his brother in Buda from 3 October 1498 until the end of 1501, together with his courtiers, armed post, servants and his then life companion, Katarzyna Telniczanka, his favorite animal was a lap dog called Whitey (Bielik). The dog was the subject of his special care and he liked him so much that Whitey accompanied the prince during his stays in the bathhouse, and was even washed with soaps bought especially for him.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old in a fur coat by Jan van Calcar, 1534, Private collection.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old aged 70 with his dog by Jan van Calcar, 1537, Private collection.
King Sigismund I, his wife and his four daughters as Hercules and Omphale by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
Sigismund I the Old was frequently compared to the mythological hero Hercules, it was a standard during renaissance. In 1537 the king was celebrating 20th anniversary of his coronation (24 January 1507) and 70th anniversary of his birth (1 January 1467).
The composition of a painting from the Mielżyński collection, now in the National Museum in Poznań, astonishingly match the composition of the Jagiellon family around 1537. It is a workshop copy, most probably a copy of a copy, hence resemblance might be not so evident. Cranach workshop was famous for its "mass production" of quality paintings. The study for a portrait, a drawing with all details of the sitter's costume meticulously described, was prepared by some court painter or a Cranach's pupil sent to the patron. Just as in case of preparatory drawings to portraits of Margaret of Pomerania (1518-1569) and Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1502-1568), Duchess of Pomerania, relatives of Sigismund through his sister Anna Jagiellon, Duchess of Pomerania (1476-1503), such drawings were sent from Poland to facilitate the work on commission.
In this courtly scene showing Hercules, who was sold to the court of Queen Omphale where he had to remain as a slave for three years, we could distinguish the 70 years old king Sigismund (1467-1548), his 43 years old second wife Bona Sforza (1494-1557), and his four daughters: 18 years old Isabella (1519-1559), 15 years old Sophia (1522-1575), 14 years old Anna (1523-1596) and 11 years old Catherine (1526-1583).
King Sigismund I, his wife and his four daughters as Hercules and Omphale by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, National Museum in Poznań.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
In a letter of 29 June 1538 in response to accusations that his second wife Bona appropriated the robes of his first wife Barbara Zapolya, the king Sigismund I testified that the Queen arrived to Poland with so many garments, clothes and ornaments that it would be enough for a few queens.
The Queen's passion for fabrics revived crafts and trade. Under her patronage, attempts were made to establish Italian-style silk weaving mills, as evidenced by entries in the accounts of the royal court (after Ksawery Piwocki's "Tkanina polska", 1959, p. 14). In December 1527 Federico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua sent a large shipment of costly materials, including gold cloth, silk and satin fabrics commissioned by Bona, to her Venetian agent Gian Giacomo de Dugnano. Trade took Venetian merchants all over the Mediterranean and as far as China, a fact that affected not only the city's economic prosperity but its cultural identity, making 15th century Venice one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe (after Carol M. Richardson's "Locating Renaissance Art", 2007, p. 211). So was "Guanyin look" of Bona and her step-daughter in some paintings by Cranach inspired by Chinese art?
Bona's taste for German garments and embroideries is confirmed by employment at her court of German embroiderers. Jan Holfelder from Nuremberg became her court embroiderer in about 1525 and Sebald Linck from Nuremberg or Silesia was mentioned in the accounts in the years 1537-1579.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Villa del Poggio Imperiale.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a flower by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Arp Museum Rolandseck.
Portraits of daughters of Bona Sforza by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
Around the year of 1537 three of four daughters of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza reached puberty age (twelve for brides) and their marriage become a principal concern for the queen.
All three, Isabella, Sophia, Anna, apart from the youngest 11 years old Catherine, were depicted with their hair covered with a snood in the painting from the Mielżyński collection showing the daughters and the wife of Sigismund I in 1537.
The portraits of three unkown ladies from the late 1530s, created by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, surprisingly fit the Mielżyński painting and effigies of daughters of Bona by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger from the 1550s. They were probably part of a series of copies commissioned to be sent to relatives and potential suitors.
The garments are more German in style, however Italian influences with low-cut bodices are visible. In 1537 the royal tailor was Francesco Nardocci (Nardozzi) from Naples. Also the fabrics are Italian, Venetian sumptuous silk satins and velvets. During the Prussian Homage in 1525 the royal family was dressed in clothes made of rich Venetian fabrics acquired by Jan Boner in Venice (Acta Tomiciana, vol. IV).
Before the advent of cheaper Mexican cochineal in the 1540s, Polish cochineal (Porphyrophora polonica) from which the natural dye carmine is derived, colloquially known as "Saint John's blood", and widely traded in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, was utilized in Venice to dye fabrics. Polish merchants were present in Venice since at least 1348 and the first permanent dipomatic agent of Poland-Lithuania in Venice between 1535-1543 was Lodovico Alifio, head of the chancellery of queen Bona.
The royal embroiderer Sebald Linck from Nuremberg, active at the court from 1537, also worked for the Princesses, like in 1545 when he redo the collars offered by Primate Piotr Gamrat to Sophia, Anna and Catherine and embroidered their dresses with pearls.
The painting featuring Herodias in the Speed Art Museum in Louisville is similar to portrait of princess Sophia Jagiellon. Also her face features match perfectly her portraits in Spanish costume. The inscription identifying the sitter as mother of Salome was most probably added in the 17th or 18th century. The portrait, originally displaying also the decapitated head of John the Baptist, was cut later and lower part was sold separately.
A radiograph of the portrait in the Winnipeg Art Gallery, depicting Anna, reveals that her right arm originally featured a decapitated head on an oval platter. The composition was altered during its production. All of Bona's daughters were therefore to be depicted in the popular guise of the legendary biblical and mythological femmes fatales such as Salome, Judith, Delilah or Lucretia. The painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger in the Güstrow Palace (Staatliches Museum Schwerin), very similar to the Winnipeg portrait, shows Anna Jagiellon as Judith with the Head of Holofernes.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Herodias by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, after 1537, Speed Art Museum in Louisville.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Younger, after 1537, Güstrow Palace.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
The plan to wed Isabella Jagiellon, the eldest daughter of Sigismund I the Old and his second wife Bona Sforza, to John Zapolya, Voivode of Transylvania and King of Hungary emerged around 1531.
A portrait of a young woman by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the National Gallery of Denmark, bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Isabella. It can be therefore dated to about 1532, as the medal with Princess' bust by Giovanni Maria Mosca.
A woman in an image of Venus in the Hallwyl Museum is Stockholm also bears a strong resemblance to effigies of Isabella Jagiellon. The woman has even the same necklace as that visible in Isabella's portrait in a green dress by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (Private collection). The painting was therefore part of her dowry which she took with her to Hungary and brought back to Poland, when she returned in September 1551.
The painting was originally part of the larger composition depicting Venus and Cupid, similar to the portrait of Isabella's stepsister Hedwig Jagiellon, daughter of Barbara Zapolya, in Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. It was most probably cut by more prudish subsequent owners.
Before acquisition in 1915, the painting was in the Edsberg Castle north of Stockholm, which was once owned by Gabriel Oxenstierna (1619-1673), highly valued by the Brigand of Europe, as he was called by Stefan Czarniecki, king Charles X Gustav of Sweden.
Isabella died just three years after her return to Transylvania on 15 September 1559, at the age of 40, allegedly as a result of a poorly performed abortion, a child of her lover Stanisław Nieżowski.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1532, Statens Museum for Kunst.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) as Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, ca. 1537, Hallwyl Museum is Stockholm.
Allegorical portrait of Bona Sforza as Lucretia by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Bona loved power and did not like to share it with anyone, not even her own son - as evidenced by her reluctance to handing over Lithuania to him. For this reason, even earlier, in 1538, she prevented the functioning of the institution of four resident senators alongside Sigismund Augustus, created during the Diet of that year" (after Maria Bogucka's "Bona Sforza", 1989, p. 224).
The 1537 anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rebellion (rokosz) of the Polish nobility, ridiculed by the nickname of the Chicken War, criticized the role of queen Bona, whom they accused for the "bad upbringing" of young Sigismund Augustus, centralizing policies and seeking to increase her power in the state. As a result the 1538 Diet declared elections vivente rege, that Bona forced, illegal in the Polish kingdom and insisted that all estates had the right to be present at such events in the future.
That same year it was also agreed that the only son of Bona will marry archduchess Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), which Bona "a great enemy of the king of Rome" Ferdinand I, her father, strongly oposed.
So does she commissioned a painting to express her dissatisfaction?
The painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, dated 1538, from the old collection of the Royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw (recorded in 1743) can be considered as such. It shows Lucretia, a noblewoman in ancient Rome, whose suicide led to the political rebellion against the established power.
Allegorical portrait of Bona Sforza as Lucretia by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
Portrait of king Sigismund I by circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1538 Sigismund I and his second wife Bona Sforza were celebrating 20 years of their fruitful marriage which produced a heir to the throne and four daughters, one of which was about to become the Queen of Hungary and large festivities were held at the Wawel Castle.
The portrait of a man in the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1538, date top center: MDXXXVII(I), is very similar to the effigy of King Sigismund I from Aleksander Gwagnin's "Sarmatiae Europae descriptio", published in Kraków in 1578 and other portraits of the king.
Christian II of Denmark (in the Museum der bildenden Künste) and Elector Frederick III of Saxony (in the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia) are depiced in very similar black caps with earflaps, costumes and beards in their portraits by Cranach and his workshop from the 1520s. Therefore the painting could be a copy of a portrait from the 1520s.
The initals on a signet ring displaying a coat of arms are illisible and unidentifiable as of today, however they are very similar to these visible on signet seal of Sigismund I with monogram SDS (Sigillum Domini Sigimundi) in the State Archives in Gdańsk and in Poznań.
Finally the age of the sitter (?) on the painting is also illisible and identifed as xlv, so could it be XX, as 20th anniversary or LXXI, as age of Sigismund in 1538 and commissioned by the king or his wife on this occasion as one from a series commemorating it? "If the present work had a female pendant, which is quite possible, the orange as a symbol of fertility would have been especially appropriate" (after The Met Catalogue Entry).
Portrait of king Sigismund I by circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portraits of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Bernardino Licinio
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski was born on 20 September 1503 in Wolbórz in central Poland. He studied in Kraków between 1517 and 1519. He was ordained a vicar in about 1522 and worked in the office of Jan Łaski the Elder, Primate of Poland.
At the turn of 1531/32 he went to Germany, probably on the mission entrusted to him by Łaski, and he enrolled in the University of Wittenberg. The letter of recommendation from Łaski enabled him to live in Philip Melanchthon's house. Acquaintance with the prince of German humanists turned into friendship over time and he also met Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers. The leading painter in the city, who also held the office of mayor, was Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Frycz was a diplomatic agent and he often traveled between Wittenberg and Nuremberg and to Poland. He probably left Wittenberg in mid-1535, when a great plague broke out in the city. In November 1536 Modrzewski was sent by Jan Łaski to Basel to take over Erasmus of Rotterdam's great library, purchased by Łaski during the lifetime of the great humanist. Then he went briefly to Paris, Nuremberg, Strasbourg and Kraków and at the beginning of February 1537 he was in Schmalkalden as an observer on a congress of Protestant princes.
On May 1, 1537 he took part in the talks in Leipzig on dogmatic issues with Jan Łaski the Younger and Melanchthon and after the conference he stayed longer in Nuremberg to learn German. At the beginning of 1538, he was at the fairs in Frankfurt am Main. Most probably through Wittenberg, he returned to Poland. Later, in 1547 he became a secretary of king Sigismund II Augustus.
During his studies and travels in Germany he undeniably dressed as other students and Protestant reformers, however as a nobleman of Jastrzębiec coat of arms and hereditary mayor of Wolbórz, he could allow himself a more extravagant attire, like Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg.
A portrait of a man who was 35 in 1538 (ANNODO: M.D.XXXVIII / AETATI SVAEXXXV / 1538) from private collection, can be therefore considered as effigy of Frycz Modrzewski. From the 18th century to before 1918 it was in the Benedictine Abbey in Lambach, near Linz in Austria. Its prior history is unknown.
In October 1567 Queen Catherine of Austria, third wife of Sigismund Augustus, settled in the castle in nearby Linz with her servants and all the goods she has accumulated during her 14-year stay in Poland. Although Catholic, the Queen was known for generally favorable views on Protestantism. Andrzej Dudycz (András Dudith de Horahovicza), bishop of Knin in Croatia and Imperial envoy who agitated for her stay in Poland, soon after his arrival to Poland in 1565 joined the Protestant church of Polish Brethren and married a Polish woman.
The Queen studied the Bible and other theological works and supported nearby monasteries. She died childless in Linz on 28 February 1572 and donated most of her property to charity.
The same man was depicted in a portrait of a man with beret in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, painted in style of Bernardino Licinio. It is dated similarly as the painting by Cranach: 1538 + NATVS +ANNOS + 35 +. The portrait was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels and was included in the Theatrum pictorium (Theatre of Painting), a catalog of 243 Italian paintings in the Archduke's collection, under number 56.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought", aged 35 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, Private collection.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought", aged 35 by Bernardino Licinio, 1538, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought" from the Theatrum Pictorium (56) by Lucas Vorsterman II after Bernardino Licinio, 1660, Princely Court Library Waldeck.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon nude (Venus of Urbino) by Titian
Who would not like to marry a goddess? A beautiful, educated and wealthy daughter of a king? But she had an important flaw, she was from a distant country with elective monarchy, where parliament decided everything. Her husband will have no right to the crown, his children would need to stand in election, he woud have no title, he could even not be sure that her family will stay in power. She was finally not a niece of an Emperor, hence she cannot bring valuable connections and prestige. This was a hudge disadvantage to all hereditary princes of Europe. This was the case of Isabella Jagiellon, the eldest daughter of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza. She was born in Kraków on 18 January 1519 and named after her grandmother, Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and Duchess of Bari.
Together with her brother, Isabella received a good education, including from humanist Johannes Honter, and she could speak four languages: Polish, Latin, German, and Italian. Her mother willing to reclaim the inheritance of Isabella of Aragon pursued a French and an Italian marriage for her daughter. She hoped that King of France would install his son Henry and Isabella in the Duchy of Milan. Isabella, being the eldest granddaughter of the rightful Duke of Milan after her mother, would strengthen the French claims to the Duchy. These plans were abandoned after Battle of Pavia on February 25, 1525. Then Isabella's grandmother wanted to marry her granddaughter for one of her late husband's cousins Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan, however Sigismund I opposed as Francesco's hold of the title was tenuous. In 1530 Bona proposed Federico Gonzaga, a son of her friend Isabella d'Este, and sent her envoy Giovanni Valentino (de Valentinis) to Mantua. Bona's daughter was 11 and the potential groom 30 years old. Federico, however, who was made Duke of Mantua by Emperor, pushed for marriage with Maria Paleologa and after her death with her sister Margaret Paleologa, as she brought March of Montferrat as her inheritance and claimes to the title of Emperor of Constantinople. Then Valentino corresponded (25 November 1534) about Isabella's marriage with Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, the eldest son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, another friend of Bona. In 1535 Habsburgs proposed Ludovico, eldest son of Charles III, Duke of Savoy. The marriage was negotiated by Bona's secretary, Ludovico Monti and the envoy of King Ferdinand of Austria, Baron Herberstein, but Ludovico died in 1536.
Between 1527-1529 and 1533-1536 Isabella lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In his texts entitled De Europa written in the 1440s Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, future Pope Pius II, reported about women in Lithuania, that: "Married noble ladies have lovers in public, with the permission of husbands, whom they call assistants of marriage" (Matronc nobiles, publice concubinos habent, permittentibus viris, quos matrimonii adiutores vocant). These assistants, whose number depended on the position and financial situation of the husband, who were fed at his expense, replaced him by old custom in his marital duties if he had neglected them due to illness, prolonged absence or any other cause. The husbands were not allowed to have lovers and marriages were easy to dissolve by mutual consent (Solvuntur tamen facile matrimonia, mutuo consensu). Such habits terrified all male readers throughout Europe.
On November 12, 1537 Mikołaj Nipszyc wrote to Albert, Duke of Prussia about "the secret women's practice, which you could get over with, if the princess Isabella was rendered a good favor in this way". He was probably referring to marriage of Isabella with elected King of Hungary, John Zapolya, secretly planned by Bona. But he could also refer to a painting.
Everything in Titian's painting known as Venus of Urbino emphasize the qualities of a bride depicted. She is beatiful, young, healthy and fertile. She is loyal and faithful and a sleeping dog symbolize devotion, faithfulness and fidelity. She is loving and passionate and red roses in her hand symbolize this. She is also wealthy, her servants are searching the coffers of her dowry for a suitable dress. Sumptuous wall hangings are undeniably allso part of her dowry and a pot of myrtle, used in marriage ceremonies, suggest that she is available for marriage. Her face resemble greatly other effigies of Isabella Jagiellon.
The painting is identifiable with certainty at the Villa del Poggio Imperiale in 1654-1655. In Villa del Poggio Imperiale, there is a portrait of Isabella's mother by Lucas Cranach from the same period and in Poland preserved one of the oldest copies of Venus of Urbino (Museum of Art in Łódź).
Similar pose is visible in monument to Barbara Tarnowska née Tęczyńska (d. 1521) by Giovanni Maria Padovano in the Tarnów Cathedral from about 1536 and monument to Urszula Leżeńska by Jan Michałowicz of Urzędów in the Church in Brzeziny, created between 1563-1568.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) nude (Venus of Urbino) by Titian, 1534-1538, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) nude (Venus of Urbino) by follower of Titian, after 1534, Museum of Art in Łódź.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon by follower of Titian
In a letter of 31 August 1538, Bona Sforza, Isabella's mother says about two portraits of her daughter Isabella, one in half and second full lenth by a court painter of Jan Dantyszek, prince-bishop of Warmia, possibly a painter from a German school of painting. However it cannot be excluded that Dantyszek, a diplomat in service of Sigismund I, who frequently travelled to Venice and Italy, had at his court a painter from Titian's workshop. In the letter Bona also complain that the features of her daughter in the portrait are not very accurate, it it highly probable that she commissioned a better effigy in Titian's workshop herself.
On 15 January 1539, five hundred Hungarian knights arrived to Kraków. The marriage contract with the dowry of 32,000 ducats in cash plus property worth another 6,000 ducats was probably signed between 28 January and 2 February. After the ceremony, Isabella departed towards Hungary.
The features in the portrait by circle of Titian are identical with known effigies of Isabella. The portrait of a lady holding a zibellino from the Contini Bonacossi collection, as portraits of Sigismund II Augustus and his third wife by Tintoretto, and attributed to school of Agnolo Bronzino is very similar to the later portrait of Isabella by circle of Titian. However, at first sight, the resemblance is not so apparent, so was it the painting mentioned by Bona in her letter or a copy of it sent to the Medicis?
The portrait which was before 1853 in the Hungarian National Museum, known from a lithograph and identified as an effigy of Mary of Anjou (1371-1395), Queen of Hungary, pictured a woman in almost identical costume, sitting in the 16th century Savonarola chair and holding a fan. It was most probably an original portrait of Isabella by Titian, commissioned by her mother.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559), Queen of Hungary with her dog by follower of Titian, 1538-1540, Private collection.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559), Queen of Hungary holding a zibellino by Italian painter, 1538-1540, Samek Art Museum.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) holding a fan, 1853 lithograph after lost original by Titian or workshop from about 1539, Private collection.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) holding a fan, 18th century after lost original by Titian or workshop from about 1539, Private collection.
Artinpl is individual, educational project to share knowledge about works of art nowadays and in the past in Poland.
If you like this project, please support it with any amount so it could develop.
© Marcin Latka