Portrait of a Lady

by Circle of Dirck Van Santvoort


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DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 48.00 ins x 35.00 in/ 121.92 cms x 88.90 cm
MEDIUM: Oil on panel

Portrait of a Lady is a fine and elegant example of a Golden Age painting from a Dutch master. The artist here has skilfully depicted the accoutrements and finery of a Flemish lady in an unknown setting, typical of paintings of the period. Attention to detail is paramount in this portrait; a fine layer of paint has been successfully applied to illustrate the delicate lace at the sitter’s cap, throat, shawl and cuffs. In the same manner a gentle gold hue has been used to depict the sheen and intricacy of the golden thread on the sitter’s stomacher- the decorated triangular panel that fills in the front opening of her gown. Through the use of carefully constructed lighting, the artist has highlighted the elaborate pattern of the sitter’s expensive silk dress.

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Catalogue No: 4293 Categories: ,

Dutch portraits of the Golden Age were usually commissioned not as to depict a sitter’s likeness but rather their status in society as with this portrait. This was at the height of the New Dutch Republic when riches were being brought in from the far reaching Dutch colonies which brought about a blurring of the social classes.  A new middle class was emerging who had a hunger for luxury goods, including paintings.

This followed the Netherlands secession from the Spanish Hapsburg Empire in 1648 after a long war with Spain. The Dutch republic was suddenly a Calvinist state with its Humanist thinking about the self. This trend for introspection triggered the passion for portraiture. Though this portrait is unlikely to have been due to Calvinist thinking, it can be safely assumed that this painting was commissioned to depict the status of this unknown lady of fashion. Her fashionable and expensive jewellery as well as the depiction of a fan in her right hand seems to indicate this. The sitter’s obvious youth also tells us that this may be a marriage portrait done at the beginning of her marriage to show her new position in society. Portrait of a Lady is a window into a different time.

This painting has been previously owned by the sculptor and philanthropist Amelia Peabody of Boston whose works have been exhibited widely, including the Boston Athenaeum and the Whitney in New York. She then bequeathed it to the Museum of Fine Art, Boston.


Collection of Amy Peabody, Boston;
By whom bequeathed to the Museum of Fine Art, Boston;
Private Collection, New York;
Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Dirck Van Santvoort was a Dutch painter born in 1610 in Amsterdam. Though he is not registered as a pupil of Rembrandt, he is considered as part of the school of Rembrandt. He mainly painted history paintings and portraits. His works have been exhibited in several gallery and museum exhibitions, including the Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna.


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