The 10 Best Lace Paintings

written by Sophie | Art History, Lace



Who are the best lace painters in history? I am not sure I can answer that question but I do look into art history to find inspiration for my own work. When I focus on painted lace I automatically end up in the 17th century (that might just be me). That is the first century in which lace was hugely popular and so was a realistic style of portrait painting.

In many portraits of the 17th century, therefore, we can find beautiful examples of painted lace. I have mentioned a few 17th century artists below, but there are so many more who painted stunning examples.In the 19th century lace was popular too but the painting style was more loose and often artists failed to depict the fine detail, choosing instead to give an impression of the delicate fabric rather than paint its details.I thought it would be nice to collect some highlights from art history. Many of the artists mentioned are well worth some further research. Below are some details of some of what I find the most beautiful bits of painted lace. Of course it all started with the icon of the lace ruff, Elizabeth. Enjoy!

Nicholas Hilliard (attr), Elizabeth I, 1585, Hatfield House. Detail.

Frans Pourbus the Younger, Portrait of Margarita Gonzaga, Duchess of Lorraine, early 17th century. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Detail.

Michiel van Mierevelt, Portrait of Theodora van Duivenvoorde, 1620. Prado Museum. Detail.

Daniel Mytens, Portrait of Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia, 1626-27. Royal Collection. Detail.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of Maria van Trip, 1639. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Detail.

Johan Cornelis Verspronck, Girl in Blue, 1641. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Detail.

ean Etienne Liotard, Madame Jean Tronchin, 1758. Pastel. Louvre Museum. Detail.

Vicent López i Portaña, Portrait of María Cristina de Borbón-Dos Sicilias, Queen of Spain, 1830. Prado Museum. Detail.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Portrait of Princess Kotschoubey, 1860. Walters Art Museum. Detail.

Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mary Countess Howe, 1760. Kenwood House. Detail.

Published September 30, 2015

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  1. Hello Sophie: I have just discovered your blog thanks to a picture you uploaded on Pinterest. Most of the paintings you selected here are outstanding examples, except for the ugly Elizabeth I whose portraits were painted by the worst artists of the age. If I had to choose the finest picture I would pick Vicente Lopez Portaña's portrait of the Queen of Spain.

    I leave you an example of beautiful lace painted by the brilliant and almost-forgotten Flemish artist; this belongs to my blog. Regards. Claudio

  2. I'm enjoying your articles very much, and I have a question. I was once told that Rembrandt painted his lace collars differently than other artists. Is this true? And did most artists paint the white lace over the black background or vice versa?

    Thanks for your kind help.

    1. Hi Paula! No, he did not paint it differently than other artists; well he painted differently than other artists anyway, but the way he painted lace was simply the most logical way and others did the same. Whether you paint the white first or the black first depends on how dense the lace is. If the lace is thin and spidery, you paint the white lace on top of the black (or whatever) background, but if the lace is thick and more like a fabric, you’d paint the white lace and paint the black ‘negative space’ in and around it. Most painters would do it this way as it is simply the easiest way. Hope this helps.

  3. So glad to fine your web page. I am delving into making art and sculpture with lace and wax, encaustics.
    Not sure what to expect from the world. I love the history of lace and culture around it. Almost feel reluctant to put it out there. But I have collected so much of it I almost feel obligated to used it in abnormal artsy ways.

  4. You are obviously wrong, but someone who is not involved in the art community is not expected to understand it. It’s fine if you don’t like or understand art, but you don’t get to say what art is if you don’t know anything about it.

  5. The lace in several of these paintings looks so real, almost as though one could lift if off the painting. Thanks for sharing these paintings.

  6. Par excellence!
    Your art lace painting is just like the real lace making – lots of tiny details. I enjoy looking at your paintings as I enjoy my making lace.
    In fact, your art portraits could be my challenge in bobbin lace.
    Have a nice day!

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