Gerard Terborch

Portrait of Catarina van Leunink

Portrait of Catarina van Leunink
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Author: Gerard Terborch
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 80x59 cm
Origin: Holland, Between 1654 and 1681

Terborch, author of many magnificent examples of Dutch 17th-century genre painting, is represented by several excellent works in the Hermitage. He differed from many genre artists in that he was also a talented portraitist. It was thanks to him that a new type of small, single-figure portrait, created in the miniature technique usually reserved for genre pieces, made its appearance. An example of this is the portrait of Catarina van Leunink, wife of the burgomeister of the town of Deventer. Terborch rarely dated his works but it seems likely that this piece was painted after 1654, when Terborch married and moved to live in Deventer.

In this small canvas we see a slim woman, her figure evenly lit, standing a little back in the darkened empty space of a room. The expensive, elegant attire of heavy satin and dark blue velvet emphasize the young woman's fragility. The gentle oval of Catarina's sad face is outlined with a soft contour. Her large walnut-coloured eyes look out attentively, while the broad black brows contrast with the pallor of the high forehead. The huge bow-brooches which complete the attire of the first lady of Deventer seem far too heavy for this fragile being.

Colour is also used in a fine, elegant manner: the white of the satin has shadows and highlights of pearly-grey and gold, the even background is a soft olive colour, all combined with the jet black stones of the jewellery and the flickering of the diamonds. Terborch enjoyed depicting textiles and textures, bringing out their rich luxury. Observing his model carefully, Terboch captured the elegant gesture of the hand with its fan, the slight turn of the head and the barely noticeable step forward of this elegant young woman.

Source of entry: Museum of the Academy of Arts, Petrograd, 1922
Exibition: Dutch art: 17th century

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