Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Mysterious Ghost Girl Portrait in the North Carolina Museum of Art


Above:detail from NCMA.67.13.6
This is one of the strangest and most beautiful Elizabethan portraits I've come across. It's part of a masterwork collection of brilliant portraits kept in Raleigh, North Carolina. The woman bears a remarkable resemblance to Queen Elizabeth I. The portrait, and costume, seem intent on emphasizing her long neck offset with a jagged choker and a blood-red heart pendant. Combined with the thick white make-up this creates an altogether spooky effect Tim Burton would approve. Who is this ghost-girl courtier? 
Above: beautiful detail from NCMA.67.13.6
Detail: Unknown Woman NCMA left hand with cord-tied ring
Note: all comparison images in this post are used for education purposes and are available on wikimedia.

Above: detail from Robert Peake's Procession portrait c 1600 at Sherbourne Castle (image via wikimedia) and Unknown Woman (NCMA).
Expect some updates to this post.

This small collection in the North Carolina Museum of Art has some of the most beautiful Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits in the world. Their collection originated in high aristocracy, and the artists are amazing. The sitters are all power players, and it matter who they are, but it also matters who painted them, and when. 

From the North Carolina Museum of Art website:

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