The Madonna and child signed and dated 'Barbara di Luca Longhi Pingevat / 1577' (lower center); remnants of a red seal on the reverse oil on canvas 13 x 10 1/2in (33 x 26.5cm)
PROVENANCE: Possibly, Prince Camillo Borghese, who married Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of the Emperor Napoleon on 6 November 1803; The Borghese Palace Sale, Giacomini and Capobianchi, Rome, 28 March - 9 April 1892; By family repute, acquired by Bradford deWolf, (great nephew of Sam Colt who invented the Colt 45 revolver), at the above sale; Thence by descent to the present owner.
The deWolfs, with their impressive Borghese furniture and works of art, moved into the largest private residence in Georgetown, the Bodisco House, now owned by Senator John Kerry and Theresa Heinz. The majority of this home's contents were then bequeathed to their son, Francis Colt deWolf Jr, known as "Colt". Colt married Princess Dorota Drucka Lubecka (a.k.a.Doda deWolf) and upon his death, these Borghese Palace works of art were passed on to her. Most recently, these paintings were inherited by her son, Francis Colt III, upon her own death in 2007.
Barbara Longhi was the daughter of the painter Luca Longhi, who trained and employed her in his studio in Ravenna. She became known for her talent as a portraitist at an early age and was among the few women artists to be mentioned by Giorgio Vasari in his Vitae. Only one of her portraits survives today and most of her remaining known works are small, delicate depictions of the Virgin and Child. Most of her works are unsigned while a few carry her initials, and only fifteen are attributed to her with certainty. The present painting is special in that it carries the entire signature of the artist and the year in which it was executed.