Portrait of a Young Lady
Oil on canvas, 99x82cm, 1656
The fairly unknown 'society' painter Isaak Luttichuys (1616, London – 1673, Amsterdam) moved from London to The Netherlands in the early seventeenth century. He was the son of Dutch parents, born in London, but moved to Holland at an early age. Very little is known about his life, training or career and few paintings are in public museums.
I particularly love this painting for the hugely detailed and beautiful manner in which Luttichuys painted the woman's lace collar. The Flemish bobbin lace is painted in the not uncommon way of scratching out the white paint to suggest the lace pattern. The artist would use the back of a brush into the wet paint, thereby revealing the darker layers underneath. Rembrandt used a similar manner to paint bobbin lace. The density of the lace made this method quite suitable as painting every thread of lace would be more work than painting the 'gaps' (negative space) in between. Although the lace lacks some 3-dimensional moulding on the woman’s body, the intricacy and detail of the lace is impressive and very beautiful.
A piece of lace from the Metropolitan Museum of Art shows the type of lace used in these collars. A Flemish bobbin lace (made with bobbins and basically a type of weaving, in contrast to needle lace wich stems from embroidery) from the mid 17th century with extensive and dense flower patterns.