La Salle University Art Museum
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Florentine Lady in Mourning


Florentine Lady in Mourning, 16th Century

Oil on Wood Panel


Purchased with funds provided by Bernard Krimm

Although this work was originally known as “Portrait of a Woman,” it has been renamed “Florentine Woman in Mourning.”  The work is an excellent example of a popular theme in Italian painting, particularly Florentine, addressing issues of loss and death which faced women in the early modern period. It has been suggested that these images became en vogue during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is likely they were used to feminize a growing number of independent widows, who outnumbered widowers at the time and challenged traditional gender roles. Images like this perpetuated the depiction of the ideal widow, one which has endured into the contemporary age.

Condition of the Artwork (2009):

There is a good amount of old worm damage visible on the reverse of the panel. The lower right corner has a 1 ½”h x ½” w triangle of old repair wood fitted to repair an old damage to the panel; the triangle is fractured and somewhat loose. The upper right, added corner is quite loose and not properly lined up with the main panel. The panel has been split in half and glued back together at some point in time. The paint layer has been abraded along the age cracking in many areas of her face, and in the lower left costume.

Ultra violet light reveals old repaints in many areas. Abrasions along abraded age cracks in her face and costume have been inpainted to be less visible. Inpainting was done fairly carefully, but does not match well at this point in time, and does not clearly cover losses in many areas. There is a 1/8” diameter paint loss in the background above her head. There is another 1/8” diameter paint loss in the center of her black blouse, just above the bottom edge. There are areas of fractured paint and paint loss along the arch of the upper right corner and the added triangle, and at the edges.

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • Consolidate areas of insecure paint with a conservation quality adhesive.
  • Re-glue loose panel sections at top corners.
  • Remove/reduce surface grime. If safely possible, manually reduce dust embedded in varnish without removing the varnish.
  • Fill and inpaint paint losses with conservation quality materials. Adjust some of the old inpainting to blend better with the original paint.
  • Apply a finish coat of a conservation quality varnish.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Conserved in 2011-2012 With Support from the Stockman Family Foundation

(See Online Exhibition of Conservation Treatments)