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Portrait of a Lady

Johann Tischbein

Artwork Details

Portrait of a Lady
1754
Johann Tischbein
oil on canvas
41 1/4 in x 36 1/2 in (104.78 cm x 92.71 cm);41 1/4 in x 36 1/2 in (104.78 cm x 92.71 cm)
Bequest of Henry C. Lewis
1895.35

On Display

Not currently on display

Description

The identity of the sitter of this portrait is unknown, but from her elaborate dress we may assume that she was a young woman of rank in the region near Kassel. This painting is unusual in that it has never been relined (the process of adding a second canvas behind the original to give it additional support and strength) and preserves the freshness of the brushwork, particularly in the areas of the lace where the delicate impasto is frequently lost during relining. Johann Valentin Tischbein was a member of a prosperous Saxony-based family of artists. Tischbein spent time in the Netherlands working in Maastricht in 1747 and then at The Hague in 1750, before settling in Kassel as a court painter.

Tischbein’s painting came to UMMA as part of the first large gift of art ever made to the University of Michigan, a gift of over 700 works of art made by Henry Clay Lewis in 1882 (but which didn’t arrive until 1895). The gift helped to motivate the construction of Alumni Memorial Hall where you now stand, which opened in 1910.

Subject Matter:

Johann Valentin Tischbein was a member of a prosperous Saxony-based family of artists. Tischbein spent time in the Netherlands working in Maastricht in 1747 and then at the Hague in 1750, before settling in Kassel as a court painter.
We do not know the sitter of this portrait, but from her elaborate dress we may assume that she was a young woman of rank in the region near Kassel. This painting is unusual in that it has never been relined (the process of adding a second canvas behind the original to give it support and strength) and preserves the freshness of the brushwork, particularly in the areas of the lace where the delicate impasto is frequently lost during relining.

Physical Description:

An elegantly attired young woman is shown in a half-length portrait. Her hands are crossed in front of her at the wrist and she holds a partially open folding fan in her right hand. Her blue silk dress has long lace cuffs and a lace overlay at the shoulders and bodice. The bodice is also ornamented with silk bows of matching silk. At her neck is an elaborate pearl and lace choker; she has a matching pearl bracelet and seed pear earring. Her haif carries the blue of dress in the ornamentation at the crown of her head. Ribbons from her hair ornament cascade down either side of her bosom.

Usage Rights:

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