Skip to main content

Louis-Léopold Boilly, A Girl at a Window

Key facts
Full title A Girl at a Window
Artist Louis-Léopold Boilly
Artist dates 1761 - 1845
Date made about 1799
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 55.2 × 45.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Emilie Yznaga, 1945
Inventory number NG5583
Location Room 33
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Girl at a Window
Louis-Léopold Boilly

This intriguing picture is Boilly’s painted imitation of a print after one of his own compositions (possibly now lost). Although Boilly was an expert in trompe l’oeil, it is unlikely that he intended to trick the viewer into thinking they are looking at an actual print because he does not include the usual clues such as a turned-up corner or a tear or crease in the ‘paper’. Instead, this is an exercise in illusionism, as Boilly demonstrates how one medium (oil painting) can look like another (printing).

The painting follows the precedent of seventeenth-century Dutch artists, such as Gerrit Dou and Casper Netscher, who often used the framing device of a figure sitting at a window and included a relief carving below the windowsill. However, Boilly, who was fascinated by optics, also emphasises the activity of looking by including several optical devices such as telescopes and an eyeglass encouraging the viewer to think about what they are in fact seeing.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo