Armine Harutyunyan was recently addressed as the “ugly” Gucci model and violently attacked.
This was certainly not the judgement that Laura Battiferri received five centuries ago.
The important nose did not frighten Bronzino when he wanted to portray her, and, evidently, she did not have a problem with it either.
The profile brought her, a poetess, closer to the great Dante. So did the book that she elegantly holds in her hands: it refers to Petrarch (and to her first name).
Laura Battiferri, in fact, the legitimate daughter of a noble prelate from Urbino, had received a humanistic education and, at the time of the portrait, was an esteemed literary woman, with access to the cultured circles of Renaissance.
Married for the first time and widowed, she remarried in 1550 with Bartolomeo Ammannati, an appreciated sculptor and architect. She regularly frequented Michelangiolo, Benvenuto Cellini, Benedetto Varchi, Annibal Caro and other Florentine intellectuals, and was in correspondence with other poetesses, such as Lucia Bertani from Bologna and Laura Terracina from Naples.
Laura never had children, but a very successful marriage.
She published her first volume with Giunti in 1560 and was admitted to the prestigious Accademia degli Intronati in Siena. Her fame crossed borders and she was known from Madrid to Prague.
Bronzino’s portrait of her is of poignant beauty, but it is not the only one. There is another one by Alessandro Allori in San Giovannino degli Scolopi in Florence.
While she was collecting all her verses for the third book Rime, Laura dieds, at almost 66 years of age. She was buried in the church of San Giovannino.
On the request of Bartolomeo, inn “Christ and the Canaanite” Allori represents l’Ammannati as Saint Bartholomew and, on the right side of the Canaanite woman, Laura is seen as an elderly matron, still with a book in her hands, but this time a religious volume.
Bronzino’s painting is kept in the Palazzo Vecchio Museum in Florence, where it is exhibited together with all the works of the Loeser donation (i.e. the bequest to the municipality of Florence by the American art historian Charles Loeser).
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