Skip to main content
Icon Icon
Icon Back

Young Woman in a Black Hat on a Balustrade


This painting by Caesar Boetius van Everdingen is a puzzle. The lack of attribute, background landscape and narrative context do not assist its interpretation. It shows a young woman wearing an unusually shaped hat and cloaked in a grey cape. The figure leans against a balustrade, perhaps a fence, her gaze lowered, her right hand pointing down, whilst her posture offers a tantalising view of her ample décolleté. There is no pictorial space – no fore, middle or background – and no landscape. One only sees a cloudy blue-grey sky against which the figure in her hat casts a tense silhouette. The absence of pictorial space intensifies the striking presence of the sculptural figure, strongly modeled in light and dark and yet whose warm incarnation is depicted with flowing, delicate brushstrokes.
Paul Huys Janssen (see expertise) dates the work to between 1650 and 1655 and compares it to other female half figures by van Everdingen from this period. In the light of the missing pictorial space and the ostensible view from below, Huys Janssen suggested this work could be a supraporte or ceiling painting. Albert Blankert (email from 23.6.2011) has suggested that the painting is a tronie. At its last auction, the figure was interpreted as a peasant woman whilst the exotic costume was seen in connection with the artist’s sojourn in France.