VERSPRONCK, Jan Cornelisz
(b. ca. 1603, Haarlem, d. 1662, Haarlem)

Portrait of a Bride

Oil on canvas 79 x 76,5 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The painting is both signed and dated "J.V. Spronk 1640".

Verspronck's career in the years immediately after 1640 is distinguished by the abundance of his production and the maturity of his style. This female portrait is similar to other slightly earlier works from 1636-37. In his use of light and gradation of background tones from left to right, combined with the novel and distinctly lateral placement of the figure, the artist throws the contours of the sitter's black dress into high relief against a luminous background. This technique is typical of Verspronck's female portraits, and along with the torsion of the figure's bust the contrast serves to enhance the plasticity of the dark mass of the clothing. In the pose and use of contrasting light a direct connection can be made with similar portrait in a private Dutch collection, as well as with a series of female portraits (1640-45) that Verspronck carried out as parts of paired "couples". (The companion-piece of the painting, the Portrait of a Husband is also in the Rome museum.) After this period Verspronck changed his approach to composition and treatment of light, above all abandoning the method of contrasting dark clothing with an illuminated ground.

The sitters in such formal portraits as these are generally dressed in the most elaborate and modish version of contemporary costume. Comparing their clothes to the changes in fashion allows us to establish an approximate date for such pictures, though in many cases (such as this pair) the works are actually signed and dated by the artist.