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Key facts
Full title A Lady with a Fan
Artist Ferdinand Bol
Artist dates 1616 - 1680
Date made 1643
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 83.5 x 69.5 cm
Inscription summary signed; dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss A.M. Philips, 1946
Inventory number NG5656
Location Room 22
Collection Main Collection
A Lady with a Fan
Ferdinand Bol
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Although there are no records telling us who this young woman is, we can learn quite a lot about her from her clothes and jewellery, and her pose. She is expensively dressed; the fan she holds was a costly accessory and in vogue at the time. Bol also seems to be emphasising her high social status through her pose, which reflects one developed by Rembrandt from highly regarded portraits by Titian and Dürer. It became a popular device in Dutch painting of the time and was used at least twice by Bol for his own self portraits.

In around 1641, Bol left Rembrandt’s studio, then one of the most famous in Amsterdam, on course for success. This portrait has traditionally been dated to the 1640s, when the distinctive style of this young woman’s semi-transparent collar and cuffs was fashionable. Recent cleaning, however, has allowed us to date the painting more precisely: a faint signature and date were uncovered in the lower left corner, only visible in ultraviolet light, reading ‘F. Bol fecit 1643’.

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