The artwork


The Lady with an Ermine

Original title

Dama con l'ermellino (Cecilia Gallerani)


1489 - 1490


Media: Oil, panel
Dimensions: 40.3 x 54.8 cm
Classification: Paintings
Style: High Renaissance
Genre: Portrait

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why we love it

Cecilia Gallerani at the age of sixteen, became the lover of Ludovico Sforza, known as the Moor, an Italian nobleman twenty years her senior, who was patron of many artists among others of Leonardo.

What interests us about her is that she was more than just a pretty girl, she was fluent in Latin and Greek, played various instruments, participated in social gatherings, and composed poems. She was compared to the female thinkers of antiquity.
The ermine, refers above all to Ludovico Sforza, nicknamed Ermellino (ermine in Italian), but it also means purity, since it is said of this animal that it prefers to die rather than be stained with mud, and moderation, since ermines are supposedly they feed only once a day.

The Lady with an Ermine is one of Leonardo’s 4 female portraits, along with the famous Gioconda, the portrait of Ginevra de Benci and La Belle Ferronière. Cecilia’s story ends in a film-loving trio, which has left us another of the most beautiful portraits in the history of art. 

The animal resting in Cecilia’s arms is usually known as an ermine. … In its winter coat, the ermine was a traditional symbol of purity and moderation, as it was believed it would face death rather than soil its white coat. 

This is just our small contribution, your curiosity can do the rest.
Enjoy learning!

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