The most beautiful lady in Kraków

Her face is devoid of wrinkles, and the brown eyes gaze out with youthful freshness: the beauty of Cecilia Gallerani continues to enchant, although she died nearly 500 years ago.

We know her thanks to the most famous and most precious painting in Polish collections – Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. The Renaissance artist executed it around 1490, portraying Cecilia Gallerani, who was then the lover of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Around 1800 the painting was bought by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, probably in Italy, for his mother, Izabela. It was brought to Kraków, the city where the family ultimately opened a museum presenting their collection, around 1880.

Cecilia does not look at the visitor from her painting, but turns sideways to someone beyond our field of vision. Who is that? This we shall never learn, just like we will never learn the reasons for the discreet smile of Mona Lisa: both paintings are enshrouded in the same aura of mystery. Yet one thing is certainly no mystery for the people of Kraków. Namely, which of Leonardo’s ladies is the more beautiful!

OK We use cookies to facilitate the use of our services. If you do not want cookies to be saved on your hard drive, change the settings of your browser.