Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of an Unknown Lady, 1670s 

 French School 

Portrait miniature of an Unknown Lady, 1670s,  French School
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Oil on copper
17th Century
Oval, 4 in. (102 mm.) high
 
Provenance:
Private Collection, France
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The identity of the artist who painted this striking portrait is at present unknown, although the painterly style and technique suggests a fusion of both English and French influence.

The costume worn by the subject appears in varying forms in numerous English portraits painted in the 1670s, although the style of hair, with two round bunches on either side with a single hanging ringlet beneath, is more typical of the French court at this date. It is perhaps, therefore, a visual example of French influence amongst the English court, which was increasingly common following the Restoration in 1660.

After many years of exile in France, Charles returned to England to claim the throne in 1660. The political, cultural and social climate had drastically changed since his fatherís reign, Charles I, and the puritanical beliefs disseminated by Oliver Cromwell during the Interregnum were given an immediate overhaul. Charles had experienced fine and imaginative fashion in the French court, and as the most powerful taste-maker in England, his concepts of fashion were quickly embraced by his English supporters. Womenís hair design went through a noticeable change and hanging ringlets appear to have been a popular choice throughout the late 1660s and early 1670s.
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