Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Copy of Detail from Sir Peter Paul Rubens's "The Straw Hat" (oil on linen; 12" x 9")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Portrait of Susanna Lunden or The Straw Hat" by the Baroque master Sir Peter Paul Rubens. It is now in the National Gallery, London. It was done as a homework for Danni Dawson's portrait painting class at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA. The assignment was glazing: start the painting with a grisaille in burnt umber, cobalt blue, and white; let the grisaille dry, then build up the colors with layers of thin paints slowly over the period of several weeks.

The title "Le Chapeau de Paille" (meaning The Straw Hat) was first used in the 18th century. In fact, the hat is not straw; "paille" may be an error for "poil", which is the French word for felt. The hat, which shades the beautiful face of the sitter, is the most prominent feature of the painting. Her fabulous, asymmetrical dress and cleavage are not shabby either!

The portrait's subject is Susanna Lunden (née Fourment), elder sister of Rubens' future second wife Helena Fourment. The portrait probably dates to the time of Susanna's second marriage in 1622, to Arnold Lunden.

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