Description - The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance by Emma Capron

Quinten Massys’ An Old Woman (‘The Ugly Duchess’) is one of the Renaissance’s most famous faces. In a fresh review of the iconic image, this book unveils the painting’s original context: its status as a pioneering work of satirical art, its debt to Leonardo da Vinci’s grotesque drawings, and what it tells us about the period’s complex attitudes towards women, age and normative beauty. 

The painting and its partner, An Old Man, are parodic portraits that mock the supposed lust and vanity of older women. Yet a closer look also reveals a figure defiantly flouting conventions and a painter subverting artistic expectations. 

The publication traces the eventful afterlife and enduring power of this seminal image: how she gained her nickname ‘The Ugly Duchess’ and inspired John Tenniel’s much-loved illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), capturing the imagination of generations of readers. 

Published by National Gallery Global/Distributed by Yale University Press 

Exhibition Schedule:

National Gallery, London, 16 March–11 June 2023

Buy The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance by Emma Capron from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, BooksDirect.

A Preview for this title is currently not available.
Charterhouse of Bruges
Hardback , Sep '18
RRP: $69.99 $62.99
Discover Manet & Eva Gonzales
Paperback , Oct '22
RRP: $34.95 $31.45