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Style of Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of a Woman

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Woman
Artist Style of Anthony van Dyck
Artist dates 1599 - 1641
Date made after 1635
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 59.7 × 47.2 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3132
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Woman
Style of Anthony van Dyck

The identity of this brown-eyed woman who sits for what may be an engagement or marriage portrait remains a mystery. She is probably aristocratic and is clearly wealthy – the many pearls strung around her neck and over her shoulders, and the two large tear-drop pearls of her earrings, are showily expensive, as are the gold-set precious stones in her hair and the large broach at her breast.

The portrait itself has been commissioned from an artist of some skill – another testimony to the wealth and status of her family. In the nineteenth century it was attributed to Van Dyck, but it is now thought to be a copy of a work by him, although no original has been traced. The style of her dress and its extravagant silk and satin wings suggests a date in the 1630s. A portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria of England by Van Dyck, dating to about 1637 (private collection), shows her in a similar costume.

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