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Cornelius Johnson, Portrait of a Lady

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Lady
Artist Cornelius Johnson
Artist dates 1593 - 1661
Date made 1655
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 100 × 81 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Robert Wylie Lloyd, 1958
Inventory number NG6280
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Lady
Cornelius Johnson

Cornelius Johnson spent much of his career working in London, but this portrait of an unknown lady was painted in Holland in 1655, 12 years after he left England.

The black costume was fashionable at the time, but the gown must have belonged to the artist rather than the lady as it appears in at least five other Johnson portraits between 1649 and 1658. It is worn by ladies of various shapes and ages, suggesting that Johnson painted their faces from life but their clothes from drapery in the studio, perhaps also with the help of assistants.

The background is painted fairly thinly with a paint made from indigo mixed with lead white. It has faded in the upper paint layer and in exposed areas of the background. Later retouchings (repairs to the paint surface) which once would have matched the background now look dark against it.

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