Margaret Lemon

oil painting of three-quarter portrait of young woman wearing silver dress, pearls, red flowers in hair

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Margaret Lemon, ca. 1638
Oil on canvas
23 3/8 × 19 1/2 in. (59.5 × 49.5 cm)
Private collection, New York

There is almost no surviving documentation for the life of Van Dyck’s mistress, Margaret Lemon, although some sources describe her as a famous courtesan. In this portrait, long considered lost, Lemon appears in three-quarter profile, delicately touching the fabric at her shoulder. Only recently has this version been recognized as Van Dyck’s original, the source of many imitations. At some point, the canvas was cut down, truncating the gesture of Lemon’s left hand. This area may have been unfinished at Van Dyck’s death.

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