Ferdinand Bol

Netherlands 1616-1680
Portrait of a Woman Dressed as a Huntress 25.0039

Women of means in the 17th century frequently chose to have their portraits painted in costume. Diana, the chaste goddess of the hunt, was a favorite choice, since hunting was a pastime restricted to the wealthy and privileged members of society. The other costume of choice was that of the Princess Granida, the heroine of a popular pastoral play of 1615 by Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft. In the play, Granida first makes her appearance in hunting dress-having lost her way in the forest, she is met by the shepherd Daifilo, who offers her water from a seashell. While the woman in this painting is hardly dressed for hunting, she does have all of the accoutrements of Diana: the unstrung bow and quiver of arrows. However, her confident stance, right hand on hip and palm turned to the back (popularized by Flemish portraitist Anthony van Dyck) also suggests someone of eminent rank and attainment, befitting the regal persona of the Princess Granida. This painting has been attributed to Ferdinand Bol, a pupil of Rembrandt and a well-known portraitist. Research of late has provided some new information that sheds some doubt on that attribution. Bol did paint at least one portrait of a woman dressed as a huntress, as well as two paired canvases showing Dido and Aeneas at the hunt. However, his portraits display much bolder colors and crisper lines than this portrait, and his portraits usually include a lush landscape in the background, unlike the more simplified background seen here. The work can be dated to approximately the 1640s based upon the costume and hairstyle. Pigment analysis at the time of conservation also dates the painting to the 17th century.




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