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Francesco Solimena, Portrait of a Lady

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Lady
Artist Francesco Solimena
Artist dates 1657 - 1747
Date made about 1740
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 92.7 × 75 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Mrs E. Antal in memory of Frederick Antal, 1955
Inventory number NG6254
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Lady
Francesco Solimena

An unknown woman with a piercing gaze leans on a table, holding a closed fan in her left hand. The sitter’s elegant costume alludes to her wealth and status, as does the ornate silver ewer behind her. She is outdoors, under a cloudy sky.

The portrait had traditionally been attributed to the celebrated Neapolitan artist Francesco Solimena, but this changed when it entered the National Gallery’s collection in 1955 – it was then thought instead to be the work of an anonymous painter from Naples. However, recent conservation and cleaning revealed the painting’s high quality, and it has now been reattributed to Solimena.

The portrait can be dated to about 1740, when Solimena was around 80 years old. Though he adopted a darker, more sombre style in his later works, rich colouring heightened by light effects characterised his paintings throughout his career.

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