National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Marchesa Balbi Sir Anthony van Dyck (artist)
Flemish, 1599 - 1641
Marchesa Balbi, c. 1623
oil on canvas
overall: 196.5 x 133.8 cm (77 3/8 x 52 11/16 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
On View
From the Tour: Sir Anthony van Dyck
Object 4 of 15

Marchesa Balbi was commissioned by a member of a large Genoese family with banking and commercial interests in Antwerp. In this work Van Dyck took advantage of the austerity of Genoese attire. No matter how sumptuous the fabrics, adults were permitted to wear only black and white. In a bravura display of lighting, Van Dyck defined the marchesa's stark outfit with a cascade of gold embroidery that glistens in the shadows. Beneath these striking tones and textures, Van Dyck elegantly elongated her anatomy. Her skirt and lace ruff disguise legs and a neck half again as long as any conceivably normal proportions.

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