San Giovanni Bianco, Bergamo, 1609-Bergamo, 1679
Portrait of a Widow, ca. 1640
This sitter is identified as a widow by the clasp that extends onto her forehead and the starched linen wings that it holds in place over her shoulders. Not just her dress, but the painting’s austere palette and geometry were fashions introduced by the Spanish governors of Lombardy. In contrast, the very direct and sensitive observation of her face recalls the long tradition of realism in Lombard painting, Ceresa’s portraits are among the finest of the period.