This painting is an outstanding example of the abstract elegance characteristic of Rogier's late portraits. Although the identity of the sitter is unknown, her air of self–conscious dignity suggests that she is a member of the nobility. Her costume and severely plucked eyebrows and hairline are typical of those favored by highly placed ladies of the Burgundian court.

The stylish costume does not distract attention from the sitter. The dress, with its dark bands of fur, almost merges with the background. The spreading headdress frames and focuses attention upon her face. Light falls with exquisite beauty along the creases of the sheer veiling over her head, and gentle shadows mark her fine bone structure. In contrast to the spareness of execution in most of the painting, the gold filigree of her belt buckle is rendered with meticulous precision. The scarlet belt serves as a foil to set off her delicately clasped hands.

Rogier excelled as a portrait painter because he so vividly presented the character of the persons he portrayed. The downcast eyes, the firmly set lips, and the tense fingers reflect this woman's mental concentration. Rogier juxtaposed the strong sensation of the sitter's acute mental activity to his rigid control of the composition and the formality of her costume and pose, presenting the viewer with an image of passionate austerity.

More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication _Early Netherlandish Painting_, which is available as a free PDF <u>https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/early-netherlandish-painting.pdf</u>


  • Title: Portrait of a Lady
  • Creator: Rogier van der Weyden
  • Date Created: c. 1460
  • Physical Dimensions: 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.)
  • Provenance: Probably Leopold Friedrich Franz, Prince of Anhalt [d. 1817], Gotisches Haus, Wörlitz, near Dessau.[1] Probably Leopold Friedrich, Prince of Anhalt [d. 1871]; Friedrich I, Duke of Anhalt [d. 1904];[2] Friedrich II, Duke of Anhalt, Gotisches Haus, Wörlitz, and Herzogliches Schloss, Dessau; sold 1925 through (Bachstitz Gallery, The Hague) to (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[3] purchased December 1926 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 30 March 1932 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA. [1] For the activity of this prince as a collector, see C. Rost, "Der alte Nassau-Oranische Bilderschatz und sein späterer Verbleib," _Jahrbücher für Kunstwissenschaft_ 6 (1873), 52-93. The numerous portraits in the Anhalt collection are not very precisely described in the early catalogues. However, Lorne Campbell has suggested that 1937.1.44 may be identical with no. 1318, "Dirk Bouts(?), Weibliches Porträt in schwarzer Kleidung mit rothem Gürtel," in the bedroom of Duke Franz in the Gotisches Haus; Wilhelm Hosäus, _Wörlitz. Ein Handbuch für die Besucher des Wörlitzer Gartens und die Wörlitzer Kunstammlungen_, 2d ed. (Dessau, 1883), 40. [2] Bruges, Hôtel de Gouvernement Provincial, 1902, _Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien_, no. 108, lists the Duke as the current owner. [3] Duveen Brothers Records, Files Regarding Works of Art, Box 302, folders 7-8, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.
  • Medium: oil on panel

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps