Portrait of Lucina Brembati, Lorenzo Lotto, c. 1518, Italy
There are several references to fertility in this image. Lucina rests her right hand on her pregnant belly and wears a martin-fur stole, a fashion accessory believed to help women during the life-threatening processes of pregnancy and childbirth.
Lucina’s family allegiance is displayed with The Brembati coat of arms contained in ring of the woman’s left forefinger.
The lady is wearing an ornate toothpick around her neck made of gold and adorned with a baroque pearl and ruby. For a time it was considered highly fashionable to wear such items as Nicholas Penny illuminates, “When an interest in this form of personal hygiene distinguished people as genteel they made a special point of exhibiting them”.
Also adorning Lucina Brembati is a twisted pearl necklace, of no less than five strands, and another in her hair. We know that pearls were a common possession for genteel women from one of Cosimo I’s letters after the 1562 sumptuary law review in Florence, where he justifies the lack of restraint on pearls “because all gentlewomen have them”. This does not mean that pearls were cheap by any means though, a pearl necklace costing at this time 500 scudi, “more than the annual income of a baker or master carpenter or an innkeeper.” Rather, wearing pearls was an opportunity for women of the wealthy classes to dress in common with their friends and show noble solidarity.
Black fabric was also the most expensive in Renaissance Italy since it required the most dye so wearing black was a display of wealth and status.
Lucina’s hair is mostly covered by her ornate headdress, a display of her married status and modesty.