Jusepe de Ribera, Magdalena Ventura with Her Husband and Son, Bearded Lady


The painting displays Magdalena Ventura standing while nursing her baby, with her husband standing behind her in the shadows. To the right are two steles, the top one listing the details of their family story in Latin, proclaiming it as A Wonder of Nature. The second stele extolls her unusual nature while still have a child and husband, as well as the work of the painter and the proud owner who commissioned it.

The painting was mentioned in various period diaries. All of the information known about Magdalena Ventura is derived from quotes and documents referring to the painting. Supposedly, Duke of Alcalá was moved to commission the painting based on rumors he heard about her.[citation needed] The stele claims that at the time of painting, she was 52, and began to show facial hair growth at 37. She had at least two other children, and was an Italian from the nearby region of Abruzzi. Magdalena likely helped or was the primary source of income through her facial hair, as the painting shows her with a long, untrimmed beard. This is stark contrast with her husband's more fashionably trimmed beard. The simple act of standing while nursing is also an unusual pose for 17th-century women, and was associated with accounts of strong African women nursing in unusual ways. Painting Magdalena Ventura in such a manner would've served to emphasize her "manliness" and strength.

The painting was a part of a gallery of portraits of people deemed "unusual," particularly of people with characteristics popular among travelling acts of the period, like dwarfism.
Available as a fine art print and as a stretched canvas panel (heavy fine art canvas stretched over 1.5 inch deep edge solid wood frame)


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Fine art papers are printed without any additional white border Please let us know at the time of ordering if you would like a small additional white border.

Rolled canvas options have an additional white border of approximately 2.5 inches (7cm) on all 4 sides to aid stretching.

Ready to hang canvas panels are stretched on 1.5 inch deep solid pine frames from sustainable forestry sources. The image is mirrored on all 4 sides to give an aesthetically pleasing finish.

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