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The first book to focus on one of the most recognisable Renaissance portraits, this publication repositions Quinten Massys's 'The Ugly Duchess' within its original context, epitomising as it does the Renaissance's taste for satire and fascination with the 'grotesque'. The Ugly Duchess celebrates Massys's leading contribution to the rise of secular and satirical painting and explores the possibility that he drew inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci's drawings. Examining the portrait alongside that of her male companion reveals the period's complex attitudes towards women, age and power. The Duchess's exaggerated facial features and inappropriate clothing may suggest that Massys is inviting us to laugh at the woman's self-delusion, but a closer reading reveals both an individual defiantly flouting convention and a painter subverting artistic expectations. John Tenniel later used the portrait as inspiration for his 1865 depiction of the Duchess in Alice'sAdventures in Wonderland, capturing the British imagination for generations. Published by National Gallery Company/Distributed by Yale University Press Exhibition Schedule: National Gallery, London, 16 March-11 June 2023

Ugly Duchess by Emma Capron

SKU: 9781857096941
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