This is the last painting in the series ‘The Four Ages of Woman’ which shows a woman in four stages of her life, each painted as they are, as truthfully and honestly as I could. Each are wearing an authentic piece of early 17th century lace, shaped in a collar often seen in early 17th century fashion. The lace and the modern women are connected in these paintings.

The Pearl Necklace, Oil on linen, 60x50cm, ​Available

I carefully and loosely attached the lace to a simply-made collar. The lace was so delicate I had to be extra careful and after the photo shoot remove the lace and put it away in its storage box, only taking it out once in a while when I was painting.
The lace is a bobbin lace, often seen in Dutch and English portraits in the early 17th century and imitates (more expensive) needle lace. It is very fine and ‘spidery’ in character and has a beautiful golden brown colour. I wonder whether this even brown colour is the original (and unusual) colour or perhaps a faded black. It is quite even however so perhaps it was meant to imitate gold as black would not have faded so evenly.
The curly and meandering pattern suggests an Italian origin although very similar types of lace were produced in Flanders at the time as well. In a Dutch painting by Nicolaes Pickenoy  a similar lace is shown as the Italian lace I used. The lace in this painting was made in Flanders.

Nicholaes Pickenoy, Portrait of Maria Swartenhont, 1627.
Rijksmuseum. (detail)
Italian Bobbin lace, around 1620. Used for ‘The Pearl Necklace’ painting
I created a simple collar using the antique and fragile lace and let my
model wear it for the painting.

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About the author

Sophie is an artist, art historian, tutor, author and blogger. She writes on oil and pastel painting, art history and the life of an artist. She paints portraits and still life and specialises in painting drapery and lace.

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