The Virgin Bride and the Unicorn


Around 1494, to celebrate either the engagement or marriage of Matteo di Sebastiano di Bernardino Goazzadini to Ginevra d’Antonio Lupari Goazzadini, artist Maestro delle Storie del Pane  painted the portraits of the happy couple.

The portraits are filled with imagery symbolizing fertility, marriage, and chastity.

Rabbits depicting fertility
Fruit (maybe a quince, apple, or peach) representing love and marriage
The purpose of the marriage is highlighted by the frieze with the Latin phrase VT SIT NOSTRA FORMA SVPERSTES (in order that our features may survive)

And most importantly for this blog – a unicorn!

A virgin maiden attracting a unicorn representing the bridegroom being drawn to the chaste bride

Following the medieval tradition of unicorns being attracted to virgins, the painting highlights the virginity of the bride Ginevra.

For more about the two portraits, see their descriptions found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here and here.

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