Image credit: Lavinia Fontana (Italian, 1552-1614) Portrait of Bianca degli Utili Maselli and Her Children, ca. 1604-5, Oil on canvas, 39 x 53 1/4 in. (99.06 x 135.255 cm) Collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2024.7. Museum purchase, Margaret and William R. Hearst III, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn, Dagmar Dolby, and the Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Endowment Income Fund in celebration of the Legion of Honor centennial. Photograph by Randy Dodson, courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Legion of Honor Acquires Rare Family Portrait

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco recently announced the acquisition of Portrait of Bianca degli Utili Maselli and Her Children–a rare and significant family portrait by Lavinia Fontana (Italian, 1552-1614).

Fontana was among the greatest women artists in early modern Europe, renowned both for her exquisite descriptions of costumes and jewelry and for her sympathetic portrayals of women and children.

Portrait of Bianca degli Utili Maselli and Her Children exemplifies the artist’s skill at depicting elaborate attire as well as her keen understanding of her sitters. Having remained in private hands for over 400 years, the portrait goes on view today for the very first time at a public institution. It is the first work of art created by a woman before 1700 to join the collection housed at the Legion of Honor.
“Lavinia Fontana was one of the most compelling portraitists of her time, and we are delighted to add this extraordinary example of her work to our collection of Italian paintings” stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “We extend our gratitude to the patrons whose generosity has enabled us to make this transformative acquisition and to share this remarkable picture with visitors as we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Legion of Honor”