GINEBRA DE BENCI: LA OTRA “GIOCONDA” DE LEONARDO DA VINCI

El “Retrato de Ginebra de Benci“ es una pequeña pintura atribuida a Leonardo Da Vinci y datado hacia 1474-1476. Si en la obra maestra del artista florentino –la Mona...
Portrait_of_Ginevra_de_Benci_1478_Nat_Gall_DC_2

El “Retrato de Ginebra de Benci“ es una pequeña pintura atribuida a Leonardo Da Vinci y datado hacia 1474-1476.

Si en la obra maestra del artista florentino –la Mona Lisa– su protagonista nos cautiva con esa ¿sonrisa? enigmática, en este caso es la más que evidente melancolía de la retratada –y su mirada perdida– la que genera mil y un interrogantes.

El cuadro

Está realizado al temple y óleo sobre tabla (madera de álamo). Mide 38,8 cm de alto y 36,7 cm. de ancho. Posiblemente en el pasado fuera más grande, habiéndose acortado por la parte inferior.

Se considera que es obra del mismo autor de La dama del armiño del Museo Czartoryski, y en general, se considera que el autor de ambas fue Leonardo, pero no sin voces contrarias.

Podría haber sido pintado con motivo del matrimonio de Ginebra, en 1474 o, dado que ella aparenta más de 18 años, pudo ser un encargo de años posteriores del embajador veneciano, Bernardo Bembo, que tenía con la dama una amistad platónica. Incluso hay críticos que consideran que está datada hacia 1504, cuando Ginebra tendría treinta años.

La mirada de la modelo muestra seriedad y a su vez una belleza clásica renacentista. En el cuadro destacan los minuciosos detalles y una extraña luminosidad, como por ejemplo en los toques de luz en el cabello de la dama. También se aprecia que el artista extendió la pintura, en algunos lugares, con los dedos, dejando así marcadas sus huellas dactilares.

En el reverso del cuadro está representada una guirnalda, con una rama de plural y otra de palma, atada con una cartela en la que se puede leer: “VIRTUTEM FORMA DECORAT” (la belleza adorna la virtud), lo que bien podría aludir a la castidad del sentimiento amoroso que Ginebra inspiró.

La dama

A Ginebra de Benci se la recuerda hoy en día sólo por ser el tema de una de las 17 pinturas atribuidas a Leonardo da Vinci, pero fue una dama de la clase aristocrática del siglo XV de Florencia (hija de un poderoso banquero) con una excepcional inteligencia belleza y grandes dotes para la poesía, lo que le valió la admiración de muchos de sus contemporáneos, entre ellos Lorenzo de Medici.

Gracias a su privilegiada posición social, Ginebra tuvo la ocasión de participar desde niña en los ambientes artísticos y filosóficos de su tiempo, lo que en Florencia, y en aquellos años, suponía relacionarse con los miembros de la Academia platónica, como Ficino, o con poetas de la talla de Poliziano.

Por desgracia para ella, ni siquiera aquel ambiente de cultura la libró de las convenciones de la época, y cuando tenía sólo 16 años fue casada con el comerciante Luigi di Bernardo Niccolini.

En aquellos años era habitual que las damas de la nobleza o la burguesía fueran retratadas con motivo de su boda, y esta podría ser la razón de que se encargara a Leonardo este retrato de la joven.

Un amor prohibido

Sin embargo, hay otra posibilidad. En aquellos años un veneciano, el embajador Bernardo Bembo, recaló en Florencia para ejercer sus labores diplomáticas. Bembo no tardó en quedar seducido por la belleza y la inteligencia de la jovencísima Ginebra, y pronto surgió entre ellos un romance platónico.

El embajador veneciano estaba casado y tenía hijos, de modo que el suyo era un amor prohibido, pero eso no les impidió manifestar sus sentimientos por medio de poemas. Y, posiblemente, también a través de la pintura realizada por Leonardo.

En el retrato, además de la citada melancolía de la joven, vemos que el pintor florentino retrató a Ginebra con un enebro a sus espaldas. En italiano, enebro se escribe “ginepro”, una similitud con el nombre de pila que los artistas aprovecharon en ocasiones, pintando a damas de ese nombre acompañadas de dicho árbol.

Sin embargo, el enebro también se empleaba como símbolo de dolor, pena y sufrimiento, razón por la cual se usó también en retratos de viudas. En el caso de la joven florentina, es posible que Leonardo la retratara con el enebro a sus espaldas por ambas razones: por la analogía con su nombre, y por el dolor que la embargaba debido a su amor imposible.

Precisamente, el laurel y la palma representados en el reverso del cuadro eran símbolos presentes en el escudo de Bernardo Bembo, mientras que la frase en latín parece más apropiada para un admirador, al tiempo que aludía a la castidad de su amor platónico nunca materializado.

La segunda evidencia que apunta a esta hipótesis apareció ante los ojos de los estudiosos gracias al análisis de la tabla mediante un examen de imagen mediante infrarrojos. Bajo la joven, Leonardo había pintado originalmente las palabras “virtud y honor”, que curiosamente formaban parte del lema personal de Bembo.

El embajador y la joven florentina nunca pudieron dar rienda suelta a su pasión. Tras varios años en Florencia, Bembo partió a un nuevo destino para cumplir su cometido diplomático. Ella, al parecer, acabó retirándose de la vida pública.

El cuadro fue adquirido por la National Gallery of Art de Washington en 1967 por 5 millones de dólares pagados a la Casa Real de Liechtenstein, un precio récord para ese tiempo.

 

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