A95: Portrait of a Lady in Spanish Costume
View larger photo
© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Portrait of a Lady in Spanish Costume|
|Additional title||Unknown Lady|
|Object type||In category: Pictures » Painting|
|Date||Between 1580 and 1590|
By Attributed to Dutch School - Painter(s)
Previously attributed to Hemessen, Catharina van (South Netherlandish painter, 1528-after 1587) - Painter(s)
Previously attributed to Zuccaro, Federico (Italian painter and draftsman, ca. 1541-1609) - Painter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Northern Europe » Low countries » Netherlands » Netherlands|
36.2 cm height image size
27.0 cm width image size
53.5 cm height frame
45.0 cm width frame
1.0 cm depth frame
|Materials & techniques||
Pictures: Medium » Paint » Oil paint
Pictures: Support » Panel
Half-length portrait of a lady in an interior. Quarter profile to right, wearing black sleeveless gown fastened with acorn-shaped toggles, pleated ruffs at collar and cuffs. Off-white sleeves worked in gold stripes. White gloves with cuffs worked in gold. Auburn hair in frizzed roll on either side, lace cap, pearl earring. Heavy gold chain-girdle with a pomander box, which she holds in her right hand. In a reproduction Dutch-style cushion frame of ebonized wood and tortoiseshell-stained veneer.
|Marks and inscriptions||
According to Dr Susan Steer (in her research for the National Inventory of European Paintings) although this work has been attributed to Katharina van Hemessen since the 1920s, this attribution is no longer considered tenable.
Comparison with Hemessen’s portraits such as those at the National Gallery (e.g. NG 4732, Portrait of a Lady) indicate that the attribution is spurious. Her work seems to be characterised by a certain bodily fragility in the sitters, and the heads seem idiosyncratically large for the bodies – features absent in the Holburne painting, where the sitter is more robust and more naturalistically proportioned. Moreover, the costume in A95 seems later in date than the costumes of Hemessen’s sitters (and therefore later than the c.1545-50 cited in previous documents).
Karolien De Clippel, author of a recent monograph on Katharina Van Hemessen, has kindly confirmed that she has cited A95 in her catalogue raisonné but only as highly doubtful (under her cat. no. A28). She has not proposed any new attribution.
In 2006, Lorne Campbell of the National Gallery and Alban Chaine in Paris confirmed that the work is by an artist of the Dutch School, c. 1580-90. Alban Chaine further observed that the lady is dressed in the Spanish fashion. Lorne Campbell perceived a certain resemblance to Antonis Mor’s The Duchess of Feria (c.1560s, Prado, Madrid). The similarities of the pose and costume are undeniable. Since A95 is likewise a portrait of a strong-featured, red-haired lady attired in Spanish costume, it is also tempting to speculate if it is a later portrait of the Duchess (1538-1612), depicted in her forties. Jane Suárez de Figueroa, née Dormer, had been Lady in waiting to Mary I. She married the Duke of Feria, Spanish ambassador to England, and after Mary’s death she helped English Catholic noblewomen flee to Spain. However, such an identification remains doubtful, as the Mor Lady has a longer face with higher forehead (and the identity of the woman in Mor’s portrait is also doubtful).
Catalogue of the Pictures and Library, Engravings, Etchings and Miniatures Belonging to Sir Thomas William Holburne, Bart., Bath, 1867, cat. no. 162, as Queen Elizabeth, a small three-quarter portrait, by Zucchero [sic].
W. Chaffers, Catalogue of the Holburne of Menstrie Art Museum Bath, London, 1887, cat. no. 1481, p. 73, as Queen Elizabeth by Zucchero.
F. Moeckler, Holburne of Menstrie Art Museum, Bath, 1902, cat. no. 189
The Holburne of Menstrie Museum, Catalogue, Pictures, I, Bath 1936, cat. no. 133, as A Lady, by Catharina van Hemessen.
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
The History of the Holburne Collection » Sir William Holburne and his Collection » Arranging the Collection: Sir William at Home
Oil paintings in the Holburne Museum
|Method of acquisition||Bequest|
|Provenance||Sir T. W. Holburne (1793-1874); by whom bequeathed to Mary Anne Barbara Holburne (1802-1882); by whom bequeathed to the Museum|
Title of exhibition: Women's Art Show 1550-1970