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Painting Title Portrait of a Lady
Alternative Title Portrait of a Young Girl
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist attributed to Cossiers, Jan (Flemish painter, 1600-1671)
Previously attributed to Vos, Cornelis de (Flemish painter, ca. 1584-1651)
Date Earliest about 1635
Date Latest about 1645

A girl faces the spectator, slightly turned to the right and holding a fan. The form of the dress with double collar indicates a date between ca. 1635 and ca. 1645. As suggested by Richard Green, the portrait may have been one of a pair of portraits (possibly of man and woman engaged, as the lady has her head uncovered but also has a ring on her finger). The painting had been traditionally attributed to Cornelis de Vos - an Antwerp Baroque painter who mainly painted portraits; however stylistic analysis leads to the rejection of this attribution, as the portrait is completed in much more painterly and sketchy way then portraits by de Vos. The attribution to Cornelis de Vos was also rejected by Prof. Katlijne Van der Stighelen (University of Leuven) and she did not include the York portrait in her catalogue of the portraits by Cornelis de Vos (De portretten van Cornelis de Vos (1584/5-1651): Een Kritische Catalogus, Brussel 1990).

The portrait seems to have been created by an Antwerp artist, as it is influenced by the art of P.P. Rubens and A. Van Dyck. Most likely it was created by Jan Cossiers (1600-1671), a pupil of Cornelis de Vos and a cooperator of P.P. Rubens in the 1630's. Cossiers painted both religious and mythological subjects and was a painter of various styles, as his signed paintings show wide spectrum of influences and follow different stylistic patterns, for example either Rubens-like or Carravagesque. He was also famous for being a skilled portraitist, whith a sensitivity comparable to that of Van Dyck. Jan Cossiers strengthened the expression of the sitter's face by executing the features carefully and surrounding it with more freely painted areas, as the background, hair or clothes. He modelled the complexions carefully by bluish shadows (especially around the chin) as well as pinkish blushes. Characteristic elements of his style are traceable in his signed portraits as well as in the ones attributed to him and they seem also occur in YORAG 840. Cossiers' signed portraits to compare with YORAG 840 are five drawings depicting his sons (Jan Frans Cossiers in Fondation Custodia in Paris, inv. 1367; Jacobus Cossiers in the British Museum, inv. Oo.10.179; Cornelis Cossiers in Rijksmuseu in Amsterdam, inv. RP-T-2008-103; Gerard Cossiers in private collection and Wilhelmus Cossiers in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, inv. I 248), and most of all Portrait of a Young Man in Detroit Institute of Arts (inv. no. 79.14). YORAG 840 may also be juxtaposed with some of the portraits attributed to Jan Cossiers, e.g. Portrait of a Man in a Wide-Brimmed Hat in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., or Portrait of a Young Man in private collection, which had been on a long-term loan in the Rubens House in Antwerp from 2007 until 2012.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 840
Subject portrait (lady)
Measurements 74.9 x 55.8 cm
Material oil on wood (oak)
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green, Esq. through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance In collection of Robert Stayner Holford; by descent to Sir George Lindsay Holford; purchased by David Croal Thomson at Christie, Manson & Woods London, 17th May 1928, lot 72; purchased by F. D. Lycett Green at Agnew Ltd. London 1953.
Principal Exhibitions The Old Master and the Deceased Masters of British School, Royal Academy, London, 1887, no. 74 as by Cornelis de Vos; F D Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 26, as by Cornelis de Vos; Primitives to Picasso, Royal Academy, London 1962, no. 126, as by Cornelis de Vos.
Publications Baedeker,K., London and its environs, including excursions to Brighton, the Isle of Wight, etc. : handbook for travellers, Leipzig 1879, p. 251, as by Cornelis de Vos; The Academy and Literature, vol. 31, no. 769, January 29, 1887, p. 80 as by Cornelis de Vos; Benson, R. (ed.), The Holford Collection, Dorchester House, Oxford 1927, vol. II, cat. 117, pl. CV as by Cornelis de Vos; Barbizon House: an illustrated record, London 1928, cat. 9 as Portrait of a Dutch Lady by School of Van Dyck; Flemish art, 1300-1700. Winter exhibition 1953-4, London, 1953, cat. 251, p. 81 as by Cornelis de Vos; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 82, pl. 71 as by Cornelis de Vos; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 354 as by Cornelis de Vos.

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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