A 19thC Continental School Oil on Canvas Portrait of a Lady c.1860-70

Period: Mid-Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-70
Height: 23.5”
Width: 18”
Depth: 1”

The very striking three-quarter length portrait in rectangular form of a lady, wearing a lace bonnet and black dress to a jade green ground, the sitter holding a letter and looking out to the viewer with a piercing gaze with a tilt-top occasional table to the side, the whole painted in oils on canvas, being signed lower left V. Larco (?) and surviving from the high Victorian period.

The portrait remains in good original order and has been recently varnished and at some stage relined with the tablet to the back being saved and reapplied. There are no tears or repairs. Further research could be carried out on the artist with the signature being partly indecipherable. The tablet to the reverse reads Hincour?? – again more time taken here could prove fruitful.

As with the ‘selfie’ today, portraits were also a chance for more self-conscious sitters to be depicted in the latest fashions. In the eighteenth century, the upper classes entered a new era of prosperity. No longer the preserve of royalty, commissioned portraits, of oneself or one’s ancestors, became a coveted symbol of wealth and status which continued even more so in the nineteenth century. The portraits took pride of place in the home or were given to others as gifts.

Almost akin to a silhouette, this portrait has a very striking effect, its hyper realism immediately arresting.