Wednesday, 24 December 2008


The first time I saw this fascinating portrait was in the book On Ugliness by Umberto Eco. This is a portrait of a girl from the 1590's, by Lavinia Fontana. Her name is Tognina Gonsalvus or Antonietta Gonzales. She was daughter of Petrus Gonzales, a man whose entire body was covered with thick, soft hair. He married an average woman, but they still got many hairy children. They travelled to several courts of Europe, dressed in fancy clothes, and the rich people loved to see these "curiosities", and the princes ordered portraits of them.
Like this one...


  1. I first saw and photographed this odd portrait while bicycling in France in 2006, and only this week (March 2009) got around to trying to find out more about it, and now have discovered this lovely blog.

  2. Hi Jackie!

    I'm glad you like my blog :).
    There's more to find out about this fascinating portrait, what I've written here is quite short. Jan Bondeson has written a book on the theme - "Freaks" - which, I think, contains more information. (Otherwise, you can look here ).
    I've seen your photo of the portrait and it's amazing that you've seen it in real life!! I'm awe-struck :)