Oil on panel, 33cm by 23.5cm.
Matilda, Countess of Canossa (1046-1115) is remembered for her role in the conflict between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor, in which she strongly supported Pope Gregory VII.
Known as La Gran Contessa, she was held in extremely high regard by succeeding popes and in 1634, her remains, which had been buried in Mantua, were removed to Rome by Urban VIII and reinterred in St. Peter’s.
Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), believed this painting to be by Cimabue (1251-1302) and inscribed it on the reverse as such.
Cimabue, a painter and mosaicist, was a pioneering artist in Florence.
He is said to have discovered Giotto (c 1267-1337), who was to become perhaps the most important artist in the development of Western Art as the concept of Humanism began to develop.