Museums and Art

“Lady with a Fan,” Alonso Sanchez Coelho - Description

“Lady with a Fan,” Alonso Sanchez Coelho - Description

Lady with a Fan - Alonso Sanchez Coelho. 62.6 x 55 cm.

Despite the strict adherence to the canons of the Spanish ceremonial portrait, in Coelho’s paintings the faces of the characters remain alive, retain their characteristic expression, and a special sparkle in the eyes. Static poses are not only a tribute to traditions, but also the result of wearing a very tough and heavy ceremonial costume that restrained all living movements, like a real shell.

A portrait of a lady with a fan is a vivid example of the master’s work. A very high, solid collar, a tight corset and a lot of gold trim do not allow the young lady not only to move, but even to breathe freely. But her face is expressive, sadness is frozen in big eyes, fragile white hands hold an indispensable attribute of any Spanish aristocrat - a folded fan.

This young woman with curly reddish hair is literally chained in a very expensive and luxurious outfit of dark brown, chocolate shade of velvet, which is all embroidered with gold threads. In the sections of the sleeves, an equally expensive golden silk lining and the sleeves of the lower dress made of golden brocade are visible. A very high collar with flat gold trim supports the head, giving the lady a noble posture and a bit arrogant appearance.

Over the dress, a young woman wears several strings of pearls, and her fingers are decorated with numerous gold rings with precious stones. No less luxuriously trimmed and her hairstyle. It uses an exquisite golden diadem, and intricately braided hair is entwined with pearl threads. All this is intended to emphasize the high status and wealth of the portrait.

Despite the highest artistic skill in depicting such detailed details, it is the woman’s face that attracts great attention. In this pompous golden frame, only it looks truly alive. The master managed to convey surprisingly well the spirituality and special expressiveness of the face, which is rarely found in such a strictly regulated genre as a ceremonial portrait.

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