I think I have a girl crush. There, I said it. I find myself completely mesmerized by this mysterious woman in Portrait of a Lady. When you look at her, at first, you notice how wrong the proportions of her body are, with her narrow shoulders, thin waist and very small hands. Those stand in stark contrast to the size of her head, headdress and towering hairstyle. Set against a deep blue-green background lacking in detail, it is her face that ultimately draws you in. No makeup. Pale. Full, luscious lips. Her eyes are looking down with a contemplative gaze. I wonder what she’s thinking about.
I think she’s married. There is a wedding band on her ring finger, with another golden ring, embossed with a small cross, on her left pinky. Gold is also present at her waist, adorning her belt buckle. I feel particularly drawn to the realism of her face. All the sophistication goes into the clothes and accessories, revealing her upper class status, while her face remains so natural. I even like those slight lines under her eyes; it’s refreshing and unusual to admire them during these Photoshopped and suntan frenzied times. It’s not their mere presence, but also a certain vulnerability that they convey – poor sleep, worries or a consequence of her paleness.
I know, she’s not probably the type who you’d expect to stir passions in others, but I can sense a frailty and authenticity in her that simply pull me in. The irony that Dutch artist Rogier van der Weyden depicted her body following the Gothic ideal of elongated, narrow forms does not elude me.