What secret was hidden for 100 years by the famous painting: “the Lady in the fur Cape»
For more than 100 years, this painting hid the secret of the true author of the canvas. Who painted the stunning $ 26 million painting from the Louvre? A hundred years later, art historians have finally found the true author, but the second secret of the picture – the identity of the model – remains unknown.
The first mystery of the picture is the identity of the heroine
“The lady in the fur Cape” is an oil painting dated 1577-1579. Now stored in the Pollock House Museum in Glasgow. The painting was purchased by sir William Stirling Maxwell in 1853 and is part of a collection of Spanish works that, along with the Pollock House, was donated to the city of Glasgow in 1967 by his granddaughter Ann Maxwell MacDonald.The identity of the heroine is still unknown. However, there are suggestions that this is Sophonisba Anguissola-an Italian artist, the first known artist of the Renaissance.
Other art historians believe that the value of fur and jewelry with precious stones are proof of the Royal origin of the heroine. Perhaps it is someone from the Royal family of Louis Philippe (since Alonso Sanchez Coelho was the leading portrait painter at his court).
The mysterious heroine looks directly at the viewer. She has black almond-shaped deep eyes that are framed by bright charcoal brows. The girl’s pose is written in 3/4. She is distinguished by an aristocratic pallor, red lips and rosy cheeks. Additional expressiveness of her appearance is added by thin long fingers with two rings (a hint to her married status). The heroine is dressed in a beige fur Cape (hence the name), and her head is covered with a light shawl to match the Cape. The fur may well belong to an ermine or a lynx. Black curls peek out from under the shawl. Vaguely visible is the necklace that the heroine wears under her clothes. Bright black hair, eyes and eyebrows give the appearance of a lady an Oriental flavor.
Is the authorship of the painting known?
The painting was not signed by the author, but for a long time it was considered the work of the master of the XVI century El Greco. New research and more thorough analysis of the masterpiece allowed experts to better understand the style of El Greco and other artists working at the time. Technical analysis carried out By the national Prado Museum in Madrid, the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow museums proved that the author is still not El Greco.
Dr. mark Richter, who organized the study, confirmed that technical analysis of the paint surface and examination of microscopic samples showed that the composition of the paint on the picture differs from other works by El Greco. Experts also used infrared reflectography to detect any preliminary sketches or drawings by the artist, which are often hidden by underlying layers of paint. They also conducted radiography to provide information about the materials and methods used, as well as the style of the artists. Experts found that the first layer of the canvas was light gray, and the work of El Greco was primed with a layer of brownish-red color. In addition, the quality of El Greco’s original drawings differs radically from the painting under study. All evidence points to the fact that the materials and methods used in the creation of the picture correspond to the XVI century of Spain. With the help of modern equipment, 5 possible authors-artists were analyzed and according to the results of examinations, it was found out that the author of “the Lady in the fur Cape” is one of the best European portrait painters of the XVI century, Alonso Sanchez Coelho (1531 — 1588).
Who was Alonso Sanchez Coelho?
Sanchez Coelho is a fundamental figure in the history of Spanish painting. The artist worked mainly with Royal portraits. His style combines the objectivity of the Flemish tradition and the sensuality of Venetian painting. Alonso was the chief portrait painter at the court of Philip II of Spain, and at that time he was admired even much more than El Greco. Coelho’s paintings are marked by ease of pose and execution, dignity and rigor of presentation. Although these portraits were influenced by Titian’s paintings, they show an original talent and perfectly reflect the modesty and formality of the Spanish court. Sanchez Coelho also created a touching series of portraits of the children of Philip II.
The extreme delicacy of the child’s portrait softens the strict etiquette and court style. Sanchez Coelho brought distinctive innovations to the style of court portraits, especially a sharp sense of color, clarity of execution and increased realism.
“The lady in the fur Cape” has fascinated audiences since it was exhibited at the Louvre in 1838. Although it has been a puzzle since the beginning of the twentieth century, now, at last, the picture has restored its international reputation, which Alonso Sanchez Coelho deserves.