Portrait of a Young Woman
MediumOil on canvas
DimensionsCanvas : 17 x 14 1/2 in. (43.18 x 36.83 cm)
Frame : 22 x 19 1/2 in. (55.88 x 49.53 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton in memory of Alyce T. Williams
LabelA good portrait not only portrays its subject’s physical likeness, but also captures something of that person’s character and place in the world. The direct gaze and slightly upturned lips of the young woman in this portrait suggest confidence, intelligence and a sense of humor. Her high-waisted dress and tightly curled hair reflect the neo-classical style that prevailed in France for several decades after the 1789 French Revolution. Neo-classicism rejected ostentatious displays of wealth and status, instead favoring simpler, subtler styles inspired by the democratic ideals of ancient Greece and Rome. Despite her unpretentious appearance, the young woman in this painting must have come from a wealthy family since only wealthy families could afford to commission portraits, which were often painted to commemorate significant life events such as birthdays, marriages and anniversaries.