A fabulous early 19th-century Austrian school portrait of a lady. She’s wearing a simple dark dress with gigot sleeves, red scarf, large diamond crucifix and a fancy gold cap.
It’s likely that she hailed from the area of Linz in upper Austria as her outfit appears to be an adaptation of a traditional folk costume. The cap is particularly interesting as it’s constructed of lace woven from thin strips of gold, which are then mounted onto linen. It’s known as a ‘flügelhaben’ and each one took over 200 hours to make. You may notice that the shape is similar to a Roman helmet - this is in homage to the fact that Linz was founded by the Romans.
It’s likely that the gold flügelhaben also had some religious significance as it was often worn when attending church. So given the prominence of the crucifix, she’s probably a Roman Catholic (the predominant religion in Austria at the time).
The portrait has accumulated some wear over the years including paint losses, scuffs and abrasions. It was probably rescued from a loft somewhere as a loose canvas and then attached to a board. Our restorers would make a fine job of touching up all the missing areas but in our opinion, it’s more characterful to leave it as it is. If you enjoy a little eccentricity, this lady will fit right in.
The portrait is held within a later frame.
PS - You’ll find an example of a flügelhaben at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Medium: Oil on canvas laid on board
Overall size: 23½” x 29” / 60cm x 74cm
Year of creation: c. 1835
Condition: Plenty of wear with losses, abrasions and scuffs. It’s a decorative object and would work well in the right home. The frame is newer and a little wobbly in places.