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Claude-Marie Dubufe, The Surprise

Key facts
Full title The Surprise
Artist Claude-Marie Dubufe
Artist dates 1790 - 1864
Date made before 1827
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 65.2 × 54.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Robert Vernon, 1847
Inventory number NG457
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Surprise
Claude-Marie Dubufe

This young woman appears to have been startled by something – she turns her head and clasps her blouse to her chest. Her expression seems calm, however, perhaps suggesting that she is familiar with whatever has distracted her. Her pose is based on the Medici Venus, a famous marble sculpture of the goddess of love made in Greece in the first century BC. While the sculpted Venus is nude, this woman is just covered by a thin white blouse and brown shawl.

The smooth skin of the woman’s face and neck was created with feathery brushstrokes of pink, white and subtle blue tones, while thicker layers of paint give her arms a sense of three-dimensionality. Fine, delicate brushstrokes make up her glossy black hair, with bright highlights to show the reflection of light. This picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828.

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