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Monday Muse: Inspired by Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine

Screen shot 2013-10-06 at 8.17.10 PM

This week’s Monday Muse is one of my favourite Da Vinci paintings titled Lady with an Ermine. What is known of the sitter is that her name was Cecilia Gallerani and mitress to the Duke of Milan at the time, Ludovico Sforza. Sforza was a patron of Da Vinci and he was commissioned to paint many pieces for the Duke. Gallerani is believed to be about sixteen years of age when she sat for this painting near the end of the 14th century. She was not wealthy nor of noble blood, rather her father served the Duke in his court. Although she was the Duke’s mistress and birthed him a son, the Duke chose to marry a noble lady by the name of Beatrice d’Este.

There are several reasons why I have gravitated towards this painting. It is one of the few portraits Da Vinci ever painted, in fact only one of four. It is also a piece that has been untouched by theories of hidden meanings and messages, allowing one to enjoy the work simply because of its masterful skill. The inclusion of the ermine was significant at the time when items included in paintings added symbolism. In this case the ermine signifies purity. The ermine though not well known in modern times was a highly coveted animal for its pelts often fringing noble and royal dress. Lastly, the subject itself has always been fascinating because of her ethereal beauty painted with a slight smirk.

So where does this lead us in inspiring fashion? I always pictured Cecilia as boho chic, particularly in the colours of the dress she wears in the painting. Rich and dark fabrics of heavy weight. In modern times she’d likely be found wearing billowy peasant blouses and own lots of scarves and head bands. I imagine her closet bursting with items from Winter Kate and The Row. The items I chose in this inspiration board reflect the colours in the original painting with a fur bag as an accessory, a nod to the ermine. Known for her beauty, Cecilia would have minimal make-up, perhaps some mascara and a quick swipe of blush. Cecelia would definitely be a calm, cool, and collected lady.

I love to hear your comments and suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2013 by in Fashion, Monday Muse and tagged , , , .
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