An extraordinary and unique glass painting from Venice of a famous 16th century noblewoman, Bianca Cappello.
Probably created around 1840 on the island of Murano in traditional 'murano' mirror form, it comprises a central oil painted portrait on glass of a beautiful woman wearing 16th century costume and jewellery , topped by a pediment shaped painted glass panel -with inset gilded and cut emblem of the Venetian Lion, and surrounded with smaller acid-embossed mirrored panels forming an oval surround to the centre. The two bottom inset panels bear the surface-painted name "Bianca Cappello" (see history below). And finally the mirror has typical glass flowers, leaves and scrolls, which are fixed to the wooden perimeter of the backing frame.
The rare and historic glass painting measures 35 inches wide x 50 inches high . It bears some slight damage in the form of stained and darkened mirror silvering as well as some old cracks to the central and two of the surrounding panels- indicating possible fire damage at some point in the past.
Bianca Cappello was famously born in Venice in 1548, a member of one of the richest and noblest Venetian families and was celebrated at the time for her great beauty. She fell in love with a poor Venetian clerk with whom she had a child. She later became the mistress of Grand Duke Francesco di Medici who installed her in a palace , still known as the Palazzo di Bianca Cappello in Venice, and later married her after which she became the Grand Duchess of Tuscany. They both died in 1587, from malarial fever or possibly, as some believed, from arsenic poisoning. Her story is well known in Venice and is part of the city's history. The bottom photo shows a famous painting of her by Alessandro Allori.
The glass painting is in my London flat and hangs on the wall above my computer, where I find it inspirational and accept the small amount of damage as part of the history of a unique object.