Early 19th-Century German School

Portrait Of A Woman Holding A Book

Early 19th-Century German School

Portrait Of A Woman Holding A Book

This early 19th-century German oil painting depicts a woman wearing a white bonnet, black dress, and shawl. She’s holding a book, perhaps a bible.

The outfit here aligns with the style of the early German Biedermeier period (1815-1848) when the ever-growing middle classes sought to broaden their artistic sensibilities. Two of the key tenets were moderation and modesty, which may explain the pious appearance of our sitter. However, it’s also plausible that she’s a Quaker.

Quakers are recorded in Germany during the early 19th century and it’s compelling to consider the similarities between this and the appearance of Elizabeth Fry, a well-known social reformer and Quaker. In addition, the book appears to be held open - could it be a bible with certain verses marked?

Either way, it’s a charming piece and skilfully rendered.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 33½” x 41½” / 85cm x 105cm
Year of creation: c. 1820
Provenance: Private collection, Germany.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Craquelure but the paint is stable. Canvas relined. Frame with some light wear.

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