The blog for the uncommon people

domingo, 27 de fevereiro de 2011

Johannes Vermeer - "Study of a Young Woman" 1665–67 (?) oil on canvas . Click to enlarge

This painting dates from about 1665–67, a period in which Vermeer painted two similar works: "Girl with a Red Hat" (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" (Mauritshuis, The Hague). The latter is on canvas and is nearly identical in size .

Until 2001, the canvas was called "Portrait of a Young Woman". However, it is certain that Vermeer's bust-length pictures of young women were not intended as portraits, even if a live model was employed. In contemporary inventories, including that of Vermeer's estate, paintings of this type were called "tronies", a now defunct term that could be translated as heads, faces, or expressions. Depicting intriguing character types and exotic or imaginary costumes, tronies were made as collectors' items; the materials depicted—such as the blue silk draped around the model's shoulders in this painting—were not secondary but essential motifs intended for the connoisseur's eye, showing the artist's powers of invention and execution.

This may be one of three paintings by Vermeer described as "Een Tronie in Antique Klederen, ongemeen konstig" (A tronie in antique dress, uncommonly artful) in the 1696 Amsterdam auction of paintings owned by Jacob Dissius, the son-in-law and heir of the artist's Delft patron Pieter Claesz van Ruijven (1624–1674). In lighting and palette, it is very different from the Mauritshuis canvas, which employs primary colors in discreet passages and a more emphatic contrast of light and shadow. However, the similar subjects and sizes of the two works along with their complementary formal qualities may indicate that they were meant as a pair.

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