Lady with a Red Lily


School of Fontainebleau


sixteenth century


Oil on panel


26 x 19 1/2 inches


Anonymous gift

Accession #


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The School of Fontainebleau refers to the French Mannerist style that developed in the sixteenth century Valois court and flourished until the end of the reign of Henri IV in 1610. This painting of a semi-nude woman displays the Fontainebleau ideal of feminine beauty. The sculpted body appears to be made of pearl or enamel. The mask-like face is ornamented with elaborate flowers and jewelry. Much importance is given to the flowers, both in the woman’s hair and in the vase. These have led the emment art historian Julius Held to identify the woman as a personification of Flora, the goddess of spring and a figure of questionable morals. The immoral nature of this contemporary courtesan in the guise of Flora is emphasized by the red lily.