Ferdinando Porta - inv. 1054

Ferdinando Porta (1689-1767)

Woman with Child (Charity?)
1738 c.
8 x 6 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1054

not on display
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A woman looks upwards, her breast bared, against which she cradles a sleeping infant. Though very small, the painting shows an unusual pictorial vivacity. It is not possible to establish whether the paper was fixed on to the wooden support in earlier times or whether it was done recently. The subject too remains a mystery; it is perhaps allegorical (Charity). The painting might possibly have been a trial on paper, then adapted to become part of a collection. The surface has uniformly darkened, leaving only a hint of the original rich colouring.

The work is traditionally attributed to the Milanese Ferdinando Porta. Son of Andrea, the reputed portraitist of the Milanese aristocracy, he took part in several large-scale painting activities, such as the series of large paintings for the cathedral of Milan and the decoration of the cathedral of Monza.