Ginevra de' Benci

c. 1474 -1478 – Oil on Panel – 38.1 x 37 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

This is a portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci (born 1458) that is said to be painted to celebrate her marriage to Luigi di Bernardo Niccolini when she was 16 years old. The design featuring a ginepro plant on the reverse side of the painting is a pun of her name Ginevra.

 

“The painting’s imagery and the text on the reverse of the panel support the identification of this picture. Directly behind the young lady in the portrait is a juniper tree. The reverse of the portrait is decorated with a juniper sprig encircled by a wreath of laurel and palm and is memorialized by the phrase VIRTVTEM FORMA DECORAT ("beauty adorns virtue"). The Italian word for juniper is "ginepro", which suggests that the juniper motif was used here as a symbolic pun on Ginevra’s name.” – Wikipedia