Isotta Brembati

oil painting of a woman seated. She wears a deep green gown embroidered with gold floral patters. She holds a white-and-pink-plumed fan.

Giovanni Battista Moroni
Isotta Brembati, ca. 1555–56
Oil on canvas
63 x 45 1/4 in. (160 x 115 cm)
Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni, Bergamo – Lucretia Moroni Collection

The most opulently dressed of Moroni’s sitters, Isotta, whom Moroni painted in another portrait, wears a spectacular brocade dress complemented with accessories that indicate her wealth and status: a marten with a jeweled head, a pendent cross of precious stones, a gold- or gilt-bronze-handled fan, and other jewelry. Nothing in the portrait suggests that the sitter was an accomplished poet who composed in four languages. Belying Moroni’s convincing naturalism is his inventive license: a woven textile like Isotta’s dress, with the size of the pattern growing dramatically from bodice to skirt, would have been extremely unusual for the period. The dress may be partly fictive, with Moroni using an actual dress as a point of departure to create a more visually stunning effect. The portrait of Isotta’s second husband, Giovanni Gerolamo Grumelli is also displayed in the exhibition.
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