BP Travel Award: Paintings (1)

Ten works inspired by 17th Century portraiture created after winning the BP Travel Award 2013.  The prize was used to research how lace and textiles were depicted in early 17th century portraiture and come up with new and contemporary answers to this rich and evocative inspiration.



The Four Ages of Woman

This is a series of 4 paintings in which modern 21st century women at various stages of their lives are portrayed wearing an authentic piece of early 17th century lace, as often seen in 17th century portraits.



The Lacemaker

The Four Ages of Woman

The model is 9 years old, an age at which she could have been a trained lace maker already were she alive in the 17th century. This 21st century girl is wearing a kerchief (shawl) edged with authentic Flemish bobbin lace from the mid 17th century.  This type of scalloped lace we often find in Dutch portraits, for example in the direct inspiration for this piece: Johannes Verspronck’s Girl in Blue which hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

A Fine Thread

The Four Ages of Women

The lace in this piece is an authentic piece of Flemish straight bobbin lace from around 1640. It has flowers and scrolling patterns that was very popular in The Netherlands in the 17th century. Because of its popularity it is often called Dutch lace. The lace shows the use of an early mesh, which would later in the century develop further when more open designs became popular.

Repeating Patterns

The Four Ages of Woman

The Reticella ruff seen in my portrait of a woman in Repeating Patterns was inspired by the collars so foten seen in English portraits from the early 17th century such as in William Larkin’s and other Elizabethan and early Jacobean portraits. For the painting I created a ruff from a long piece of (probably) 17th century reticella needle lace. It has the typical squared patterns of circles and stars, all worked densely with a buttonhole stitch. Reticella is a very early lace which would develop in the 17th century into more fine needle lace with more free-flowing patterns.

The Pearl Necklace

The Four Ages of Woman

The collar in this portrait was inspired by the spidery bobbin lace collars and cuffs seen in many 17th century portraits such as in Marcus Gheeraerts’ portrait of Lady Killigrew. the authentic piece of lace seen in my painting is probably an Italian bobbin lace from around 1620, which imitates needle lace in its spidery nature. It has a rich brown golden colour and is in excellent condition despite its old age and fineness.