Head Study of a Reclining Woman, Possibly Margaret Lemon

red, black, white drawing of woman's face, while reclining

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Head Study of a Reclining Woman, Possibly Margaret Lemon, ca. 1638–39 (?)
Black and red chalk, heightened with white chalk
7 5/8 × 9 3/4 in. (19.5 × 24.7 cm)
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Flattery seems to have been of no concern to Van Dyck when he made this intimate portrait of a reclining woman. To achieve the detailed depiction of the face, Van Dyck used red in addition to black and white chalks, following the example of Peter Paul Rubens in his portrait drawings of relatives. Like these, Van Dyck’s unique drawing was probably made as an independent work. The inscription below identifies the sitter as his mistress, Margaret Lemon, but a comparison with known portraits of her, including the print after Van Dyck in the exhibition, does not fully confirm this identification.

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