“Lady with a Fan,” Alonso Sanchez Coelho – Description

Description of the picture:

Lady with a Fan – Alonso Sanchez Coelho. 1570-1573. Panel, oil. 62.6 x 50 5 cm.

   Despite serious adherence to the canons of the Spanish ceremonial portrait, in Coelho’s paintings, the faces of the characters remain alive, retain their characteristic expression, and a special radiance of the eyes. Static poses are not only a tribute to traditions, but also the result of wearing a very tough and languid ceremonial costume that restrained all movements alive, like a real shell.

   A portrait of a lady with a fan is a catchy example of the master’s work. A very high, stiff collar, a tight corset and a huge amount of gold trim do not allow the young lady to move, or even breathe freely. But her face is expressive, sad eyes are frozen in huge eyes, fragile snow-white hands hold the obligatory attribute of at least some Spanish aristocrat – a folded fan.

   This young lady with curly red hair is almost chained in a very expensive and chic outfit made of dark brown, chocolate color velvet, which is all embroidered with gold threads. In the sections of the sleeves, a more expensive golden silk lining and the sleeves of the lower dress made of golden brocade are visible. A very high collar with flat gold trim supports the head, giving the lady a generous posture and a little arrogant appearance.

   Several strings of pearls are planted on top of the dress on the young lady, and her fingers are decorated with countless golden rings with precious stones. More lavishly trimmed and her hairstyle. A unique golden diadem is applied in it, and difficultly braided hair is entwined with pearl threads. All this is intended to highlight the highest status and heritage of the portrait.

   Despite the high artistic skill in the image of such detailed details, tremendous attention is attracted specifically to the lady’s face. In this pompous golden frame, only it looks truly alive. The master was breathtakingly able to convey the spirituality and extraordinary expressiveness of the face, which is rarely found in such an aggressively regulated genre as a ceremonial portrait."