Michiel van Miereveld, ‘Portrait of a Lady’, ca. 1620,  M.S. Rau Antiques
Michiel van Miereveld, ‘Portrait of a Lady’, ca. 1620,  M.S. Rau Antiques
Michiel van Miereveld, ‘Portrait of a Lady’, ca. 1620,  M.S. Rau Antiques

A masterful example of 17th-century Dutch portraiture, this magnificent oil on panel comes alive with luminous color, a dramatic composition, and extraordinary detail. The panel is attributed to Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt, an artist widely regarded as the greatest portrait painter of his era. Fashionably styled, Portrait of a Lady exemplifies the mature style of van Mierevelt, executed with the same artistry and attention to detail he imparted on his most important private commissions.

Upon examination of work, van Mierevelt’s immense talent for detail and composition is clearly evident. In both palette and proportion, it embodies the somewhat austere style preferred by the artist, which emphasized a painstaking study of the costumes and accessories of his subjects. It was these - the delicate, complex lace collars and exquisite, glistening jewels - that underscored the importance and prosperity of his wealthy clientele.

Yet, it is the rendering of his subject's face that most clearly reveals it to be a work by the master's hand. Painted with a looser, more naturalistic touch, her ivory skin is exquisitely shaded in peach and pink tones, while her expression is both friendly and reserved. Truly timeless, his subject is direct, personal and warmly human – all attributes that make van Mierevelt’s works so compelling and beloved. Similar works by the painter can be found in the National Gallery (London), Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Wallace Collection (London), among others.

The son of a goldsmith, van Mierevelt was born in Delft in 1566, and it was there where he spent most of his life and career. Benefiting from a growing wealthy middle class, he quickly built a reputation throughout Delft and The Hague for his exceptionally rich and detailed portraits. In 1607, Prince Maurits of Orange commissioned a portrait from van Mierevelt in a suit of armor-clad in gold-leaf, which the artist immediately reproduced in a variety of sizes and mediums to display in government institutions. The clever commercial move propelled him into the spotlight as a portrait painter of import, and foreign diplomats, aristocrats, and wealthy merchants all flocked to Delft to be painted. Tremendously successful in his lifetime, today his works serve as a lasting testament to the importance of his subjects and the prosperity of his age. In addition to the museums stated above, his works can be found in the prestigious collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), Kunstmuseum Basel, Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston).

Circa 1620

Panel: 23 1/2" high x 20" wide
Frame: 36 3/4" high x 32" wide

Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1883

Reverend R. C. Waterston, Boston, 1857
Charles E. Lord
Richard Philip, London
Private collection, Connecticut
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans