Portrait of a Woman
On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830, 5th Floor
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.
Oil on canvas
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)
Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund
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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
x-ray, detail, CONS.43.229_1989_xrs_detail06.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 1989
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