La Donna Velata

Raphael’s La Donna Velata is one of those great female portraits whose identity has long been the focus of research. Her name, though, will never be discovered because she is always a figment of the male artist’s imagination, here a transformation of Raphael into the female symbolism of his mind, fertile and pregnant. That’s why such “women” so often look pregnant too though Donna Velata is an exception. Nevertheless, the folds of her dress have an erotic connotation as strong as a Georgia O’Keefe.Many have seen facial resemblance between her and other women in Raphael’s works, including several Virgins and even his other, later “mistress”, La Fornarina. Yet for two decades this hypothetical woman does not age which is why, having seen resemblance, some fail to mention it.

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