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Portrait of a Woman

Robert Feke

American Art

The Conservator's Eye

An X radiograph of this portrait reveals a compositional change invisible to the naked eye: the elimination of an elaborate blue drape that initially hung from the sitter’s right shoulder and wrapped around her waist. This hidden feature shows up in the radiograph because Robert Feke used lead white pigment to paint the highlights. Lead is a dense material that absorbs X-rays, causing the highlights to appear white in the radiograph, even where they have been covered with additional paint. The blue color of the draping is visible within the cracks under strong magnification. Feke made this change late in the painting process, but it is unknown if the change was made at the sitter’s request.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1748
DIMENSIONS 49 3/8 x 39 9/16 in. (125.4 x 100.5 cm) frame: 59 3/8 x 49 9/16 x 4 1/4 in. (150.8 x 125.9 x 10.8 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Robert Feke (American, ca.1707–ca.1752). Portrait of a Woman, 1748. Oil on canvas, 49 3/8 x 39 9/16 in. (125.4 x 100.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund, 43.229 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 43.229_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 43.229_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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