Remarkable 17th century French School portrait representing a woman with a fontange hairstyle, a cap and a lace collar. In her right hand, she holds the golden cross that hangs around her neck. It is probably the portrait of a noblewoman, founder of a religious order, abbess or mother superior, or a widow retired in a convent, which was very common at the time among aristocratic women.
La Fontange was a large headdress popular in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in Europe. It is said that the fontange bears the name of Marie-Angélique de Scorailles, Duchess of Fontanges, a mistress of King Louis XIV of France. Legend has it that after losing her cap while hunting on horseback with the king, the Duchess tied her hair with a ribbon in a way she fancied, and this was imitated by the other ladies of the court, spreading later throughout Europe. What started out as a simple folded ribbon headdress in the 1680s had grown, with additional fabric, lace, and adornments, into something larger and more intricate, increasingly difficult to create and wear.
Anonymous oil on canvas painting, it is relined and has undergone some past restorations. Frame in carved and gilded wood, with ornaments similar to the sitter’s headdress.
17th Century French school 'Portrait of a lady' oil on canvas, circa 1690
Artist: Unknown (unsigned).
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Condition: Very good condition.
Dimensions: 68 x 57 cm. / 26 ¾ x 22 ½ in.
Frame: 88 x 77 cm. / 34 ½ x 30 ¼ in.
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