Bartholomeus van der HeistNetherlands 1613-1670
Portrait of a Woman 25.0134
The identity of this sitter is unknown, although she is fashionably attired in black satin, lace cap and cuffs, and expensive jewelry. By the middle of the 17th century, a taste for elegance and luxury dominated the portrait market, favored by a bourgeois and increasingly prosperous clientele. Patrons began to prefer portrait painters with a polished style, who could adequately communicate the sitter's wealth to the viewer with large-scale, three-quarter length likenesses, closely focused about the figure. Such an artist was Bartholomeus van der Helst. A native of Haarlem, Van der Helst was the most fashionable Dutch portrait painter of his time, specializing in guild and militia group portraits. Portraits were one of the more expensive specialties of Dutch artists, as these were commissioned; most Dutch paintings were painted for the open market, while portraits of individuals or groups required a special contract.
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