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Gerard Ter Borch

Portrait of a Lady


Gerard Ter Borch
Zwolle, Netherlands, 1617 – Deventer, Netherlands 1681


Portrait of a Lady


About 1676-1677


Oil on canvas mounted on wood


49.2 x 41.8 cm


Dr. and Mrs. Charles F. Martin Bequest, inv. 1956.1135


Western Art

Ter Borch entered a period of extensive travels to London, Rome and Madrid. About 1654, he settled in the small town of Deventer for the rest of his life. Created with almost a miniaturist’s sensibility, his meticulously drawn portrait figures, with their shimmering drapery, convey an atmosphere of intimate reflection, comparable to the nuanced moods found in Vermeer’s pictures. In these late portraits, Ter Boch’s sober, even conservative style seems more directed to the expression of the demure and introspective personalities of his sitters than to their social position. His clientele was drawn from the affluent class in the region and from Amsterdam. Lit from the front, as was the artist’s convention, the subject is set against a darkened background. Isolated in her rich gown and fine laces, she is presented unostentatiously. Seemingly caught in a moment of inner thought, the young woman turns to us. The extensive lace, sleeves ornamented with bows, the shimmering satin skirt with detailed gold embroidery, contrasted with the black over-robe, and the exquisite matching necklace and earrings, discretely convey her social position, achieving a subtle balance of discretion and public display. Holding a fine fan, our subject is shown standing beside a velvet-covered table upon which is set a small book — all elements indicative of her refinement.

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