Who’s that Lady?

In the next few days, Memphians should notice images of 2 pretty snazzy women popping up all over town. We wanted to take some time and explain a little bit about who these ladies are and why they have temporarily moved to Memphis this winter. 

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 1669) Portrait of a Forty Year Old Woman, possibly Marretje Cornelisdr. van Grotewal, 1634, oil on panel. In 1631, when Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam from his native Leiden, the city was rapidly becoming the major trading center in the Netherlands. The city’s growth and Rembrandt’s success as a professional portrait artist seemed to coincide and he had one of the most productive periods of his career. The vitality, character and expression in his likenesses earned him a reputation as one of the most sought after portraitists in the city. This portrait may have been commissioned by Peter Sijen, one of Amsterdam’s successful businessmen at the time. The sitter was unidentified for many years, but it is now thought to be Mr. Sijen’s Mennonite wife Marretje Cornelisdr. van Grotewal. A portrait in the collection of the Norton Simon Art Foundation in Pasadena, California has tentatively been identified as Marretje’s husband and may be the pair to this portrait The painting is remarkably well preserved for such an early example of Rembrandt’s work. Pigment and translucent glazes are built up layer by layer, and by using deft brushstrokes Rembrandt renders a very detailed and lifelike likeness.
Portrait of Madame Adelaide (circa 1787) by Adelaide Labille-Guiard (French, 1749 -1803), an oil on canvas measuring more than 107 x 73 inches. Adelaide, a formally posed portrait of one of the daughters of Louis XV and the oldest aunt of Louis XVI in a red, ruffled dress was painted before a shadowy wall lined with columns topped by Corinthian capitals, which would have suggested her position as royalty, and fashionable royalty at that. Princess Adélaïde wears an up-to-date high and wide coiffure and a wide cap to match over a traditional dress with bows en échelle. She also wears a fichu that blends in with the bows of her bodice. Her bodice  ends in tight elbow-length sleeves with lace engageantes that emerge below the sleeves of her coat. Her hand rests on an easel supporting an oval-shaped silhouette portrait recently unveiled by a black velvet drape, seemingly to make her a figure in arts and culture. This image is the replica of the state portrait of Madame Adelaide exhibited by Madame Labuille-Guiard at the Salon of 1787 and preserved in the Museum at Versailles.

Well, now that you know a little bit about each one, we want to tell you why they are here. Each portrait will be displayed at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in our exhibition, Rembrandt, Rubens, and the Golden Age of Painting on loan from the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY. The exhibition opens January 22 and will remain open until April 15. The ladies are dressed to impress and we want to show them a good time. Come by and pay them and our other portraits and paintings a visit. We can’t wait for you to meet them!

Sources: jstor, Speed website, Memphis Daily News