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Portrait miniature - Portrait of a woman aged 23 in a feigned oval
  • Portrait of a woman aged 23 in a feigned oval
    Thopas, Johan
  • Enlarge image

Portrait of a woman aged 23 in a feigned oval

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1684 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thopas, Johan (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lead pencil, with touches of opaque white, on vellum, laid down on panel.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

A well-dressed woman stands three-quarter length in a feigned oval, turned slightly to her right, holding a fan in her right hand. She wears an embroidered indoor cap that ends in a sharp peak onthe forehead, over a cluster of tight curls framing her face. Her satin dress, with a pleated bodice, low waist and short sleeves, is worn over a white blouse with crocheted edges and puffed sleeves. She wears large pendant earrings, and on the little finger of her left hand is the engagement ring held by the gentleman in the pendant male portrait.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (probably, made)


1684 (made)


Thopas, Johan (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Lead pencil, with touches of opaque white, on vellum, laid down on panel.

Marks and inscriptions

'J. Thopas. fecit.'

'Aetat. 23. 1684.'


Height: 195 mm, Width: 158 mm

Object history note

P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd (dealer), London; from whom purchased by the museum (with cat. no. 205), August/September 1952 for £70. 0s. 0d.

Descriptive line

Plumbago Portrait, Portrait of a Woman aged 23 in a feigned oval, Johann Thopas, Dutch School, 1684

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1952. London: HMSO, 1963.
Rudi Ekkart, Deaf, Dumb and Brilliant. Johannes Thopas, master draftsman London : Paul Holberton Publishing 2014. ISBN: 9781907372674.
p. 135
Jane Shoaf Turner and Christopher White, Catalogue of Dutch and Flemish Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, vol. I, Cat. 206, illus. p.247.

Labels and date

Small portrait drawings like this and its pair (P.27-19520 were developed in the Netherlands around 1600. They were known as ‘plumbago’ owing to the use of graphite, sometimes called ‘black-lead’. Thopas was the most prolific of the great plumbago artists of the ‘Rembrandt period’. This pair are traditional engagement portraits – the woman wears the ring that the man is holding. The couple’s sombre clothing and restrained poses are typical of Dutch Golden Age portraiture. []





Subjects depicted



Drawings; Portraits

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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