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Annotated works

VAN LOO, Louis-Michel

(Toulon, France, 1707-Paris, 1771)

Portrait of a Lady

Oil on canvas

91,5 x 73,4 cm


Rococo and Neoclassicism (18th Century - Mid-19th Century)

N.° inv. 86/1

Acquired in 1986

VAN LOO, Louis-Michel on Online collection

Painted by Van Loo in Paris four years after returning from the Spanish court, this canvas is a delicate portrait of an elegantly dressed lady of mature years. Her face is veristically rendered, in an attempt to capture the psychological mood of the character, whose flesh is softly shaped by subtle transparencies. Van Loo similarly takes great care in the depiction of the hands which, drawn with precision, demonstrate his talent. The moiré of the blue silk costume, the lace, ribbons and pearls reveal the figure’s status as a member of the Parisian bourgeoisie of the second half of the 18th century, at the peak of the reign of Louis XV, thus at the height of the Rococo style.

A member of a family of artists of Dutch origin, Van Loo’s first master was his father, Jean-Baptiste. His artistic training was furthered at the Royal Academy in Paris, where he would subsequently become a teacher. His early portraits reveal the influence of Rigaud’s postulates, which would lead to a style in keeping with the tastes of the court. Between the years 1737 and 1752 Van Loo was director of the Academy of San Fernando and court painter to Philip V in Madrid. Upon his return to Paris he painted the portraits of Louis XV and his relatives. His reputation as a portraitist of the French royal family secured Van Loo an abundant clientele from the ranks of the Parisian high bourgeoisie and aristocracy. [A.S.L.]

Selected bibliography:
Juan José Luna. "Louis-Michel van Loo : miscelánea pictórica" en Urtekaria 1987 : asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1987 : estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1988, pp. 7-17.

Ana Sánchez-Lassa. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 81, n.º 55, ad vocem.

Annotated works