National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Portrait of a Lady Rogier van der Weyden (artist)
Netherlandish, 1399/1400 - 1464
Portrait of a Lady, c. 1460
oil on panel
painted surface: 34 x 25.5 cm (13 3/8 x 10 1/16 in.) overall (panel): 37 x 27 cm (14 9/16 x 10 5/8 in.) framed: 60.9 x 53.3 x 11.4 cm (24 x 21 x 4 1/2 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.44
Not on View
From the Tour: Netherlandish Painting in the 1400s
Object 4 of 9

Rogier was among the greatest painters of northern Europe. His inventiveness and emotional intensity had great and lasting influence.

Late in life he was particularly interested in portraiture and accepted many commissions from the Burgundian court, including perhaps this unidentified woman. In the fifty years or so since the Franco-Flemish portrait in this gallery was painted, poses of sitters were rotated from strict profiles to three-quarter views that revealed personalities in a more intimate and directly personal manner. The intense concentration in this woman's downcast gaze is reinforced by her fingers, which seem to press nervously together. The position of her hands, held not in prayer but as if resting on an unseen ledge, suggests that this was an independent portrait and was not meant to accompany a sacred scene, even though it was Rogier who first combined such half-length portraits with devotional images.

A severe balance of pattern and form -- notice the interlocking triangles in her veil and neckline -- creates a brittle, abstract elegance that is typical of Rogier's portraits. Details are reduced to geometric clarity, and the face is painted in a restrained, linear manner. Compare its smooth shallow planes to the irregular facial terrain of Diego de Guevara. In that later work, light and shadow combine to reveal every bulge and furrow.

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