Magnificent Beards: Antonietta Gonzalez

7:00 AM

Fontana, Antonietta Gonzalez, 1595
Magnificent Beards
By HARPER TRUOG

This child doesn’t have a beard so much as mutton chops, but I could not resist including it. The image is jarring to see such a hairy person in royal garments. The child’s round cheeks combined with facial hair also creates confusion over her gender. 

The painting of the hair itself is good, it looks thin and soft like a baby’s should. Fontana was known for doing portraits of royal family members. She is considered the first female painter to work within the male sphere. Paintings of babies were often used like pictures are today; to show other family members how cute it is and that it is healthy. Think of the family of a distant cousin huddling around a canvas and cooing over the new family member. Fontana puts great detail into the clothing which shows status. The paper and writing also signifies status and education. There is a hint of a crown on top of the child’s head, signifying royal blood. Fontana is not my favorite painter, but she does not shy away from weird subject matter.

There is an actual condition where some children are born with hair all over their bodies, but usually it falls off and they look normal within a couple years. It is very interesting to see a child painted like this. I would have thought that the parents would have told Fontana to not paint the excess hair. The hair and beard make her look much older than she probably is.

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