Coffin Portrait of a Woman with a String of Pearls


Basic information
Coffin Portrait of a Woman with a String of Pearls
Date of creation
18th c.
oil painting
tinplate oil
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
35.5 x 42.5
Information about author
Object description
In the 17th century, the burial of a prominent noble was accompanied by a ceremony in which the portrait of the deceased played a defining role. The casket portraits were drawn "ad vivum" (as if alive) on a silver, copper or tin plate. They had a hexagonal shape, which was due to their placement on the end of the coffin. In the seventeenth century, it was strictly hexagonal; in the 18th century, the basis remains the same hexagonal shape, which acquires a complicated baroque profile. The first requirement for such portraits was to be as similar as possible to the face portrayed. The painter was not allowed to idealize, his task was to capture the individual facial features in detail. The portrait shows the face of a woman – a person of a strong and commanding character. Her poignant, blushing face, close to the viewer, is full of vital energy. Proud look from under brown eyes, mouth as if composed in a smile and the raised head emphasize self-confidence of the portrayed woman. Ornaments such as expensive earrings in her ears, strings of pearls around her neck, and an airgrette in her hair are shown realistically. Only the framing of the portrait speaks of its epitaphic purpose. Biletsky believes that the depicted woman resembles Sophia Radziwill, painted by W.Klikowski in 1740 (LHM).