This portrait is not large, but heavy with its massive frame; yet larger than the Mona Lisa, to which it is supposed to be an answer. It rarely leaves the Galeria Palatina of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, but recently had an exhibition all of its own in an excited Milwaukee.

Who was the lady with the barely hinted smile? Was she La Fornarina, Margherita Luti, daughter of a baker in Siena? Was she the model of the Madonna in the Sistine Chapel too? Was she his mistress, did she cause his death by passing on the vile disease that then swept Italy? Or just because, inspired by her beauty, he exercised the works of Aphrodite more than was good for him? Who knows…

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