Painted Ladies

March 8 2011, 5:46pm

It’s Women’s History Month, and we have a very interesting painting of two ladies to share with you!

The painting depicts a black female artist completing a portrait of a well-to-do European lady.  Black female images are extremely uncommon in 18th century art, which begs the question as to whether the picture may be an actual self-portrait, as opposed to a playful fantasy. An eminent painting conservator in NYC has inspected the painting and confirmed that it was painted in the early 18th century, however, it is unclear as to where it was executed.

Interestingly, while we are certain the painting itself dates from the 18th century, the artist is clothed in a dress dating two centuries earlier. Garments with slashed sleeves were typically worn in the 16th century, popular in Italy and Spain. An example of this can be seen in a portrait of a Mother and Son by the female Renaissance painter Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532 – 1625). Painting of a Mother and Son by Sofonisba Anguissola A further point of note is that the black artist appears to be fettered with a metal collar around her neck and band around her arm, suggesting that she is or was a victim of slavery.

As you can see, there are many curious aspects to the painting that we are currently researching, and we are happy to hear any thoughts and opinions you’d like to share!