Coffin Portrait of a Lady


Basic information
Coffin Portrait of a Lady
Date of creation
18th c.
oil painting
tinplate oil
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
40.5 x 51
Information about author
Object description
In the seventeenth century, the burial of a noble man was accompanied by a ceremony in which a portrait of the deceased played a prominent role. The coffin portraits were painted in the technique "ad vivum" (as if alive) on a silver, copper or tin plate. They were hexagonal in shape due to their placement at the end of the coffin. In the seventeenth century, it was strictly hexagonal; in the eighteenth century, the basis remained the same hexagonal shape but it acquired a complicated baroque profile. The first requirement for such portraits was the greatest resemblance to the person depicted on them. The painter was not allowed to idealize the portrait; his task was to depict the individual features of a person's face in detail. The coffin portraits were widespread among the Lviv bourgeois. Despite their specific purpose, portraits were colourful and varied. There is a coffin portrait of an unknown woman among them. A hexagonal metal frame is decorated with a floral ornament with angel heads. Facial features of the woman are depicted in detail. She has a piercing look and arched eyebrows. Her red well-shaped lips are the dominant of her pale face. Her head is surrounded by ashy hair that forms a high haircut. The woman is clothed in a fancy dress made of both red and blue fabric. Beletskyi believed that this work was a copy after the woman’s portrait painted during her lifetime, and the portrayed woman was Polish or German by nationality.