Scholars have recently speculated that this work does not actually depict a nun, although it has been described as such since 1543. A beautiful young woman presented as saintly, a regular occurrence, the sitter may be the wife or daughter of Alvise Contarini. Her attire, particularly the head garb, may be secular, while some scholars consider it to be Benedictine or Dominican. The San Secondo convent was reserved for daughters of the wealthiest Venetians and conventions of dress were fairly loose until 1515 when strict reforms were enforced by religious and political authorities in Venice.
Portrait of a Woman, Possibly a Novice of San Secondo
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