Profile: Diana Wright
Diana Gilliland Wright of Seattle, Wash., earned a Ph.D. in Byzantine history and has taught and written extensively. She is a historian of the 15th-century Morea, of the confluence of Greeks, Venetians, Albanians, and Turks. Her blog is Surprised by Time
. . . a little wine for remembrance . . . a little water for the dust: outtakes from my work as a historian of the 15th-century intersection of the Byzantines, the Venetians, and the Ottomans.
NoteStreams By Diana Wright
On the back of the painting it says:
"In 1506 on June 1 this was painted by the hand of master Zorzi from Castelfranco, colleague of master Vicenzo Catena, on request from master Giocomo."
Zorzi is made respectable as Giorgione, and sometimes the girl is called Laura, though that is not necessarily her name. Sometimes she is "Portrait of a Young Bride" which makes her undress respectable.
Her portrait is said to have freed Venetian artists to paint all those drowningly lovely nudes with skin like cream, and mirrors, furs and pearls and splendid hair.
But the girl was not important enough to be mentioned in the inscription on the back.
In the summer of 1485, diplomat Giovanni Dario and the Ottoman court had to attend the hunting camp of the Sultan, Beyazid II. The weather was exceptionally hot, everyone had to live in tents, and cold water was unavailable. This parrot, or one like it, came back to Venice with Giovanni Dario . It appears in Venetian paintings of the period - but what do we know about it?.
This may be the loveliest picture in the world. When people talk about this painting, they immediately use the word "luminescent," mention how perfectly the pearl is painted, and go on to how the girl herself looks like a pearl. But that is how Vermeer painted. This painting is not about a face: it is not a portrait. It is about a young girl overwhelmed by feeling, a young girl in the fraction of an instant before her future happens.