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How to Read Paintings: Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci

An analysis of this brilliant and enigmatic painting

Lady with an Ermine (1483–1490) by Leonardo da Vinci. Oil and tempera on panel. National Museum, Kraków, Poland. Image source Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo da Vinci painted The Lady with an Ermine in around 1490. It was made at least ten years before his most famous work, the Mona Lisa.

Both portraits show a female sitter in a three-quarter profile. Yet compared to the Mona Lisa, this…

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