Artiest: Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio Da Urbino)
Tuseum: Galleria Borghese (Rome, Italy)
Topics: Portraits, Women
Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn is a painting, oil on canvas applied to wood, by Raphael, c. 1506. It is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. The portrait appears to have been influenced by the Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo between 1503 and 1506. The work was of uncertain attribution until recent times. In the 1760 inventory of the Gallery, the subject of the painting was identified as Saint Catherine of Alexandria and attributed to Perugino. A restoration of the painting in 1934-36 confirmed art historian Roberto Longhi's hypothesis that the work was by Raphael, and the removal of heavy repainting revealed the unicorn, traditionally a symbol of purity in medieval romance, in place of a Saint Catherine's wheel. Later restoration work on the painting in 1959 revealed the image of a dog, even earlier than the unicorn, also a symbol of chastity and conjugal fidelity. The identity of the young woman, and the client for whom the work was done, are both unknown.