Portrait of Nera Corsi


Creator: Domenico Ghirlandaio
Title: Portrait of Nera Corsi
Date: c. 1485
Media: Fresco
Repository: Florence, Santa Trinita, Sassetti Chapel

The portraits of women can be found in many contexts, for donor portraits the display is staged and meant to evoke a message to a wider public. The donor portrait found in religious images served as public demonstration of piety, of the desire to offer sacred images to glorify God and also of the concern with the salvation of the soul. Here the donor is expressing a continuous devotion. [1] Nera Corsi's portrait speaks to the Florence attitude, of the fifteenth century, against the showing of luxury in the kneeling profile figures of donors. Most women, as Corsi in the portrait, were portrayed kneeling in prayer and displaying humility. Her humility was evident through her attire: head covered with white cloth and a dark garment. [2] Ghirlandaio successfully captures the Renaissance ideal of the devoted humble donor in this depiction of Nera Corsi -- while the fifteen century citizen of Florence was well aware of the social and economic standing of the banker Francesco Sassetti and his wife Nera Corsi, the fresco portrays otherwise.[3] Of particular interest to me, is that while the portrait of Nera Corsi flanks the altarpiece, it does integrate beautifully with the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds.

Birth of the Virgin


  1. ^ Tinagli, Paola. Women in Italian Renaissance Art: gender, representation, and identity. Manchester, UK and New York: Manchester University Press, 1997. Print.
  2. ^ Borsook, Eve, and Johannes Offerhaus. Francesco Sassetti and Ghirlandaio at Santa Trinità€, Florence: history and legend in a Renaissance chapel. Doornspijk, Holland: Davaco Publishers, 1981. Print.
  3. ^ Cadogan, Jeanne K., and Domenico Ghirlandaio. Domenico Ghirlandaio: artist and artisan. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. Print.