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Core Record

Title Head of a Woman
Alternative Title Portrait of a Lady
Collection National Trust for Scotland (Newhailes House)
Artist Attributed to Adriaen van der Werff (Dutch painter and draftsman, 1659-1722)
Attributed to Pieter van der Werff (Dutch painter, 1665-1722)
Previously attributed to circle of Hoet, Gerard (Dutch painter and draftsman, 1648-1733)
Previously attributed to Italian School
Previously attributed to Werff, Adriaen van der (Dutch painter and draftsman, 1659-1722)
Date Earliest about 1690
Date Latest 1722
Description This is not, in fact, a portrait but a small fragment of a larger subject painting. It was previously thought to be by Gerard Hoet, who painted mainly religious, mythological or classical subjects set in landscapes, and painted on a small scale. However, a manuscript in the NTS archives shows that it was bought as by 'van der Werfs', which must refer to either Adriaen or Pieter van der Werff. Indeed, the distinctive classical profile and the hairstyle of this head bear a strong resemblance to the figure of Delilah in Adriaen van der Werff's Samson and Delilah, dated to the early 1690s by Gaehtgens (cat. no. 44, p. 268).
Current Accession Number 21.29
Subject figure
Measurements 11.7 x 9.4 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (hardwood)
Acquisition Details Purchased from Trustees of late Sir Mark Dalrymple 1997.
Provenance Bought by Hugh Murray, 1739 as Van der Werfs, a pair, for £28; Hugh Murray sale, 1742 as by Van der Wers, bought by John Hamilton; Sir James Dalrymple, 1742.
Publications Gaehtgens, Barbara, Adriaen van der Werff, Munich, 1987.

Archives in the National Trust offices (MS 23818.f132) revealed that this work originated in a large shipment of Dutch paintings bought directly from the Netherlands in 1739 by the collector, Hugh Murray, who was the brother of James Dalrymple. Records refer to 'two pieces of Mr van der Werfs [...] in small', a pair of male and female heads, bought for £28.00. The painting found its way to Newhailes when it was purchased by Sir James Dalrymple (1692-1751) of Newhailes in 1742 after his brother's death. The 'Mr van der Werfs' mentioned refers to either the Dutch artist Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722) or his brother, Pieter (1661-1722), with whom he sometimes collaborated. Adriaen painted classicizing subjects and made a keen study of both classical sculpture and classical and Renaissance prints belonging to his wife's guardian. He was internationally renowned during his lifetime and considered to be one of the most important Dutch painters of his generation. Although attributions to both Hoet and van der Werff were deemed valid, an examination of the catalogue raisonné for van der Werff by B. Gaehtgens, Adriaen van der Werff (1987), reveals strong similarities between his work and the Newhailes fragment. Adriaen van der Werff's Herkules und Deianira (cat. no. 26), for instance, shows the same distinctive profile as that seen in the Newhailes painting. The fluted column glimpsed behind the Newhailes head is also seen in this painting, and in Adriaen van der Werff's Samson and Delilah, dated to the early 1690s by Gaehtgens (cat. no. 44, p. 268). In the latter painting, the particular arrangement of the hair with a single lock snaking around the crown suggests that this must be the author of the Newhailes painting. This detail is more clearly seen in a copy, possibly by Pieter van der Werff (cat. no. 44a).

Rights Owner National Trust for Scotland
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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