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Imitator of Gonzales Coques, 'Portrait of a Woman', about 1650

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Woman
Artist Imitator of Gonzales Coques
Artist dates 1614/18 - 1684
Date made about 1650
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 20.1 × 16.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Elizabeth Carstairs, 1952
Inventory number NG6160
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of a Woman
Imitator of Gonzales Coques

This painting was once thought to be by Gonzales Coques, one of the most successful portrait artists in Antwerp between the 1650s and 1680s. It is unsigned and undated, but the costume and hairstyle suggest that it was painted in about 1650, and the pose and spirited look in the sitter’s eyes are reminiscent of Coques’ work. But the use of a niche (a rectangle with an arch-shaped top) to frame a portrait head of this kind was unusual in the Southern Netherlands in the seventeenth century, and it’s possible that the picture was made after 1700. It is now considered to be by an imitator of Coques.

Uncertainty about the painting’s date and its history also make it impossible to identify the sitter. It’s likely to be a portrait of an unmarried woman. Married couples were often depicted in separate paintings that were hung next to each other. The wife was invariably shown on her husband’s left, usually turning towards him – and certainly not away from him, as here.

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