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Bartholomeus van der Helst, Portrait of a Girl

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Girl in Pale Blue with an Ostrich Feather Fan
Artist Bartholomeus van der Helst
Artist dates 1613 - 1670
Date made 1645
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 75.4 × 65.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1888
Inventory number NG1248
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Girl
Bartholomeus van der Helst

The young girl in this portrait seems a little shy and tentative. Her eyes are wide and enquiring, her eyebrows slightly raised. She holds out the fan a little awkwardly as if uncertain what to do with it. Her hand placed on her stomach almost appears to steady her.

The girl’s identity is unknown, as is her age. To judge by her dress and jewels she comes from a wealthy, probably noble, family. At one time it was thought she was from the Braganza family, who were related to Portuguese royalty, but no confirmation has been found.

Whoever she is, Bartholomeus van der Helst has certainly done justice to her elaborate costume, from the silk damask of her gown and the translucent organza over the tiers of her expensive lace collar to the softly glowing pearls at neck and wrists.

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