Portrait Of A Lady With Book

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A large 19th century half-length portrait of a woman dressed in black holding a book. She appears to be wearing a traditional style of Victorian mourning wear that became popular after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.

Selecting the right kind of mourning ensemble was a complex affair in the 19th century, especially among the upper classes. Women were expected to wear thick concealing clothing, along with veils, black caps or bonnets. Many often turned to magazines for advice and in 1865, social historian Henry Mayhew remarked that women ‘had to put aside all their ordinary clothes and wear nothing but black, in the appropriate materials and with particular accessories, for the first stages of mourning.’

The complete mourning outfit was often referred to as ‘Widow’s Weeds’.

Medium Oil on canvas
Size 30” x 24⅔” / 76cm x 63cm
Year of creation c. 1861 - c. 1900
Condition In found condition. A fair amount of craquelure, some rub marks and a few areas of paint loss. The bottom of the canvas is worn. No tears, repairs or holes.