Title of Artwork: “The Lady with a Fan”
Artwork by Diego Velazquez
Year Created 1640
Summary of The Lady with a Fan
An oil painting by Diego Velázquez depicts a lady holding a fan. An edgy, low-cut black-lace veil covers the head of the woman in this image. The portrait is estimated to have been painted between 1638 and 1639 on the basis of Velázquez’s stylistic evolution. Today, this piece can be found in London’s Wallace Collection.
All About The Lady with a Fan
Portrait of the Lady with a Fan is a mystery. For whatever reason, the Lady with a Fan sitter in Velázquez is still unidentified; there is a dearth of documented information concerning her identity.
Marie de Rohan, duchess of Chevreuse (1600–1679), was dressed according to French fashion in the late 1630s, and the characteristics of her outfit imply that she may have been the sitter for The Lady with a Fan.
An anonymous letter dated January 16, 1638, alleged that Velázquez had painted the exiled duchess of Chevreuse, who had fled France disguised as a man and was living in Madrid under the protection of Philip IV at the time.
It was thought that the lady with a fan had a tapada, a Spanish outfit that was a forerunner to the majas worn in the 18th century, but some scholars stated that there was no resemblance to other images of the duchess.
Lucien Bonaparte’s collection included the Lady with a Fan in the early 19th century. It’s possible Bonaparte bought it while he was in Spain in 1801. It is also possible that the artwork was obtained in England, Italy, or France, where Napoleon Bonaparte met the then duke of Luynes, a direct descendant of the duchess of Chevreuse, during the Napoleonic Wars, where he spent much of his time. In 1816, Napoleon Bonaparte’s art collection was sold.
After a few more sales, Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800-1870) purchased the picture in 1847. After his death, Sir Richard Wallace acquired the painting, and it is now part of the Wallace Collection.
Another portrait of the Lady in a Mantilla, which is housed in the Devonshire collection, appears to be the same. It has been in use in the United Kingdom since the early 1800s. The artwork was previously owned by the 7th Marquis of Carpio, a 17th-century Spanish nobility, and Lord Burlington, a 17th-century British art collector.
Normally, this version is on display at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, but in 2006, the Wallace Collection displayed both versions together.