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Oil painting - Bust of a Woman
  • Bust of a Woman
    Cornelisz van Haarlem, Cornelis, born 1562 - died 1638
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Bust of a Woman

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Haarlem (painted)

  • Date:

    1633 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cornelisz van Haarlem, Cornelis, born 1562 - died 1638 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on oak panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:

    DYCE.61

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 78, box R

This female bust reappears several times in Cornelis’ work, both in small-scale portrait studies and in larger compositions such as a Baptism of Christ (now in Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe) painted in 1623 [formerly dated to 1633] and for the kneeling woman who looks out towards the viewer at the right of Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me (signed and dated 1633, now in Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem). The V&A work is also very close to two portraits of a woman, each of which has a male portrait pendant, now in private collections. This suggests that the painting may originally have had a male pendant or that it is a 'tronie', a picture painted from a living model but intended as a study of costume or expression rather than as a portrait. Such paintings were common in 17th century Dutch art and, as well as being used by artists as compositional aids, were made for and sold on the open market.

Physical description

A portrait bust of a dark-haired woman wearing a translucent white headdress and chemise under a pale pink mantle, with her head turned towards the viewer

Place of Origin

Haarlem (painted)

Date

1633 (painted)

Artist/maker

Cornelisz van Haarlem, Cornelis, born 1562 - died 1638 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on oak panel

Marks and inscriptions

'CH [monogram] 1633'
Signed and dated by the artist, centre left

Dimensions

Height: 15.2 cm approx., Width: 10.2 cm approx.

Object history note

Bequeathed by Reverend Alexander Dyce, 1869

Historical significance: This female bust reappears several times in Cornelis’ work, both in small-scale portrait studies and in larger compositions such as a Baptism of Christ (now in Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe) painted in 1623 [formerly dated to 1633] and for the kneeling woman who looks out towards the viewer at the right of Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me (signed and dated 1633, now in Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem). The V&A work is also very close to two portraits of a woman, each of which has a male portrait pendant, now in private collections (repro. No. 340 a-b and 341a-b, van Thiel). This suggests that the painting may originally have had a male pendant or that it is a 'tronie', a picture painted from a living model but intended as a study of costume or expression rather than as a portrait. Such paintings were common in 17th century Dutch art and, as well as being used by artists as compositional aids, were made for and sold on the open market.

Historical context note

This female bust is a recurrent motif in the work of Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, a leading exponent of Mannerism in the Netherlands and co-founder of the Haarlem Academy. He used it both in small-scale portrait studies and in larger compositions. This may be one of his 'tronies' .interesting, fantasized heads, usually made as independent works of art, but sometimes also as working material. As products of his imagination they belong, unlike his portraits, to the domain of invention, of history painting. A similar use of tronies is described by Karel van Mander in his biography of Frans Floris, where he describes how this master tended to block in a composition with chalk, ordering his pupils to continue towkring on it with instructions to ‘put in these or those heads’ , because, as Van Mander explains, ‘he always had a good few of those to hand on panels.’ [Eng tran from Miedema 1994-, vol. I, p. 229. See: Hessel Miedema (ed.), Karel van Mander. The Lives of the Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, from the first edition of the Schilder-boeck (1603-1604). Preceded by the The Lineage, Circumstances and Place of Birth, Life and Works of Karel van Mander, Painter and Poet and likewise his Death and Burial, from the second edition of the Schilder-boeck (1616-1618)., vols. I-, Doornspijk 1994-]

What Floris’ pupils did, Cornelis did himself. He never copied models exactly; he always adapted them to the situation in which they were needed.

See van Thiel monograph, p. 106ff.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Bust of a Woman', Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, 1633

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

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 74-75, cat. no.72
Pieter J.J. van Thiel. Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem 1562-1638: A Monograph and Catalogue Raisoneé. Diane L. Webb (tr.) (Doomspijk: Davaco Publishers, 1999). p. 402 no. 274.

Materials

Oil paint; Oak

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Women; Headdresses

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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