Despite the titling of this piece as a portrait, there is question over whether or not it represents an ordinary woman or a biblical heroine. It can, however, be confidently be dated as after 1532 despite the lack of artist identification because it is surely copied off of Antonio Alegri Correggio’s Allegory of Virtue. The young woman pictured exactly matches the main figure in Correggio’s Virtue. Dressed in armor and brandishing a lance in Correggio’s version, the woman in this piece maintains the pose but is stripped of her environment and outfit. She therefore has her right arm raised for no visible reason. An additional peculiarity is that this piece was apparently cut from a larger altarpiece. Art Historians speculate that the whole, original scene might have depicted the biblical tale of Judith slaying Holofernes. Were that true, the woman’s raised arm might have still held a weapon like her counterpart. This painting was donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in 1961.
-Susan Bonta, Class of 2019