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Portrait of a Young Noblewoman

Portrait of a Young Noblewoman, 1593

Alonzo Sánchez Coello
Spanish, 1531/2-1588
Oil on canvas
48-3/4 x 39-3/4 in. (123.8 x 101.0 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Sánchez Coello’s influence on contemporary Spanish portraiture can be seen in this portrait of a young noblewoman made by his studio a few years after his death. The inscription on the bottom left of the painting indicates that the girl was portrayed at fourteen years of age. Her extravagant garments, intricate lace ruff and fanciful hairdo add to her radiance. Although she clasps her long necklace with the right hand as a sign of material wealth, the other is placed firmly on a bible to underscore her modesty and religious virtue. Coello and his school recorded the fashion trends in Europe favored by Catholic nobility during the Counter-Reformation. Social position, elegance, and preciousness of dress were favored over references to the personal, inner life of the sitter.

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