Constructing Beauty During The Italian Renaissance

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  • 1.Constructing Beauty During the Italian Renaissance Ann K. Fields A&D 451 Spring 2009

2. Rationale

  • Response to a debate
  • Cosmetic practices and fashion are often excluded
  • Applies a context of society contemporary to portraiture

Portrait of a Woman Sandro Botticelli c. 1480-1485 Bianca Ponzoni Anguissola Sofonisba Anguissola c. 1557 3. Thesis

  • Italian Renaissance portraiture reflects the appearance which was physically created by women in order to fit into their societys canons of beauty.

Venus of UrbinoTitian c.1538 4. The classical past

  • Canons of beauty for the Italian Renaissance period were derived from those of the Greeks and Romans
  • Mathematical order and ratios of features
  • Rediscovery of anatomical studies

Cnidian Aphrodite Roman copy after Praxiteles c. 4th Century BCE 5. Canons of beauty

  • high forehead
  • sharply defined chin,
  • pale skin,
  • strawberry blond hair
  • high delicate eyebrows
  • strong nose
  • narrow mouth
  • full lips
  • elongated neck
  • pregnancy- reflected in fashion

Lady with an ErmineLeonardo da Vinci c. 1489-1490 6. Diffusion of Visual Culture

  • Prints of portraits
  • Poetry
  • Church-commissioned pieces

Madonna dell Granduca Raphael c. 1505 7. Fashion of the Period

  • Clothing as status- described in portraits
  • Clothing altering the body to fit ideals

Catherine deMedici Sofonisba Anguissola c. 1556 8. Cosmetic Practices

  • Bleaching Methods
  • White powder and creams
  • Rouge
  • Eye makeup
  • Lipsticks
  • Dying the hair
  • Plucking or shaving of eyebrows and hairline

Portrait of Maria deMedici Agnolo Bronzino c. 1551 9. Summary of exhibition

  • Visual culture allowed women to see the ideal beauty
  • Could construct ideal appearance through cosmetic practices and fashion
  • Questioning the aesthetic values and degree of naturalism in representation


  • Articles on Exhibition:
  • Portrait of a Woman Sandro Botticelli (c. 1480-1485) Bianca Ponzoni Anguissola Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1557) Venus of Urbino Titian (c.1538) Cnidian Aphrodite Praxiteles (c.4th Century BCE) Lady with an Ermine Leonardo da Vinci (c.1489-1490) Madonna dell Granduca Raphael (c. 1505) Catherine deMediciSofonisba Anguissola (c. 1556) Portrait of Maria deMedici Agnolo Bronzino (c.1551)
  • Whitening cream container
  • Rouge box Reproduction of Maria deMedicis dress


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