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1 / Quattrocento Florence: prof. Luba Freedman



1 / Quattrocento Florence: prof. Luba Freedman

1 / Quattrocento Florence: the City and its Artists


The Medal of Giovanni and the Portrait of Alessandra: Some Thoughts on the Identity of the Young Woman in the Uffizi Portrait by the Pollaiuolo Brothers, Antonio and Piero 

Presented by prof. Luba Freedman

Tuesday, October 25 at 6:00pm CT
Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago

500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago IL


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The Portrait of Alessandra entered the collection of the Uffizi Galleries in 1861 from the Palatina Gallery without any record of earlier provenance. The general consensus that has developed over the past two decades attributes the portrait to the Pollaiuolo brothers, either Antonio or Piero, with the date fluctuating between 1475 and 1485. Among a handful of known fifteenth-century Florentine female profiles, this portrait stands out for its representation of a gently smiling woman, wearing exquisite garments and adornments, including a large clip with the enameled angel. The comparison of the gemstones in her portrait to those in Piero’s painting of the Mercanzia Charity, against the background of the brooches rendered in contemporary representations of the Madonna, reveals how these unmistaken similarities emphasize the sitter’s feminine virtues of spousal chastity, fidelity, fertility, and motherly love.


This presentation by prof. Luba Freedman seeks to establish the identity of the sitter as Alessandra di Bernardo di Lorenzo Ridolfi, the wife of Giovanni Lanfredini. The Lanfredini brothers, Jacopo and Giovanni, were the longstanding patrons of the Pollaiuolo brothers, the lovers of antiquity, and associates of Marsilio Ficino, who revived the notion of guardian angel and whose letter to Pietro Molino praises Antonio as the portraitist. The circumferentially obtained historic facts about the Pollaiuolo brothers and the Lanfredini family, as well as the most recent technological examinations of this and other paintings by the Pollaiuolo brothers, offer new insights into this fascinating portrait from Quattrocento Florence. 


Register, in-person only


luba headshot templateLuba Freedman is a researcher into Italian Art of the 15th and 16th centuries in Florence, Rome, Venice, Parma and Correggio. At the end of her high school studies in Moscow and even before her Aliya to Israel in 1972, Prof. Freedman understood that she wanted to specialize in the History of Italian Renaissance Art emphasizing its Classical heritage. Her M.A. and doctorate were completed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the supervision of the department's founder and Israel Prize winner, Prof. Moshe Barasch.


Prof. Freedman has written 5 books and around 50 articles on masterpieces of the visual arts, including 3 studies on works of Italian poets: Petrarca, Boccaccio and Tasso. She has also collaborated on editing a book of articles that deal with mythology. In all of her publications she emphasizes her constant interest in Classical and Christian subjects and in Aesthetics.She is Jack Cotton Professor Emerita of Architecture and Fine Arts at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, her alma mater, where she has been teaching on a tenure-track position since 1992 and tenured in 1996.


She has also published about fifty articles on aesthetics, portraiture, and masterpieces of Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture.


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The lecture series “Quattrocento Florence: the City and its Artists” is co-sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago and the Newberry Library's Center for Renaissance Studies and complements the Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibition “Botticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi.” Four art historians explore urbanism and the production of art in fifteenth-century Florence through close analysis of works in the MIA exhibition. 


The exhibition “Botticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi” is open at the Minneapolis Institute of Art from October 16, 2022 through January 8, 2023. For more information, visit




Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Time: From 6:00 pm To 7:00 pm

Organized by : Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago

In collaboration with : Newberry Library

Entrance : Free


Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Chicago