Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine (Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani), 1483-90
Here we have one of Leonardo’s most iconic portraits, perhaps even coming second to the Mona Lisa. Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of Ludovico Sforza, was just 15 years old when this was painted. She is shown holding a rather strange-looking creature, referred to in the title as an ‘ermine’. This is a term used to describe a stoat with its white winter fur, although there is clearly something quite striking and almost mythical about Leonardo’s version.