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Portrait of a Lady
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Jan van de Velde II
Dutch, 1639
Pen and brown ink on vellum
3 7/8 x 3 in.
2003.130

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The identity of the sitter of this bust-length portrait is unknown but her costume indicates that she was a woman of considerable wealth. She wears a dark bodice, trimmed at the neck with a lace ruffle and a fur cape complemented by a fine necklace. An ornate headdress and, above her right temple, a jeweled pin with a plume of osprey feathers, complete her ensemble. Although formally attired, the young woman shows a slight smile and subtly tilts her head.

Jan van de Velde's drawing technique derived from his training as an engraver. He used a variety of fine, hatched lines to describe the soft contours of the face and distinctive texture of the fur. In capturing this likeness on a small sheet of precious vellum, Van de Velde also displays a miniaturist's touch; for example, the osprey plume is composed out of a handful of thin, parallel strokes.