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Portrait of a Woman, 1637

Thomas de Keyser

Dutch, 1596/7-1667
Oil on panel (one of a pair)
18 x 15-1/2 in. (45.7 x 39.4 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1972.15.3.2.P
© 2012 The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

De Keyser did not support himself as an artist. An architect and stone dealer, he was appointed as the municipal architect of Amsterdam in 1662. Painting was pursued only in his leisure time, and he appears to have been quite energetic later in life. De Keyser's talents are best revealed in his modest-sized works such as "Portrait of a Man" (F.1972.15.3.1.P) and "Portrait of a Woman."

This husband and wife are dressed in the rich, yet sober, garments of the Dutch middle class. Their relation to one another is more firmly defined by the common table at which they sit. These two works exemplify the conventional marriage portraits of the day. Two identical canvases would hang as pendants, with the woman to the man's left. Both individuals faced the center, with the light usually falling from the viewer's left. The man's face would be partly in shadow; the woman's receiving the light directly.

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