Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), 'The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon', c.1600. © National Gallery of Ireland.
Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), 'The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon', c.1600. © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon by Lavinia Fontana

Year
c.1600
Size
256 x 325 cm
Medium
Oil on canvas
Provenance
Purchased 1872
Number
NGI.76

Lavinia Fontana was a popular artist with the Italian nobility. In this, one of her most ambitious portraits, Vincenzo I Gonzaga and his wife Eleonora de’ Medici are depicted in the guise of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. This Old Testament story was chosen because the Gonzaga family of Mantua claimed ancient connections with the Queen of Sheba. This work was apparently inspired by an actual event in 1600, when the Dukes of Mantua passed through Bologna on their way to attend the wedding in Florence of their relative Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV of France.