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Portrait of a Woman with a Pomander
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Portrait of a Woman with a Pomander

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description This woman’s affluence is seen in her embroidered cap, pearl necklace, and the gold chain from which hangs a pierced metal container, or pomander. Portrait of a Young Woman with a Pink includes one as well. Pomanders held sweet-smelling herbs or perfumes to combat the foul smells generated by limited personal hygiene. The word "pomander" actually refers to the contents of the ball; it comes from the French pomme d'amber, i.e. apple of amber, not the resin amber but ambergris, the waxy substance from the stomachs of sperm whales that was a basic ingredient in making perfume in the past. The arm of the chair upon which her hand rests appears to be decorated with a hexagram. In the sixteen century a hexagram might be used by Christians, Jews, and Muslim alike; the symbol only started to be identified more exclusively with Jews as the "Star of David" in the following century. The woman's pose, angled slightly to her right, might suggest that the portrait was initially one of a pair with the woman's husband to our left. That this is a three-quarters portrait rather than than just the standard bust or half-length indicates that it would have been more expensive and therefore is a subtle indication of status. The severity of her costume and demeanor is characterisitc for this period in the Netherlands. .
Date Description Narrative
2/12/1976Examinationexamined for condition
2/12/1976Treatmentcoated; filled; inpainted; lined; reconstructed; varnish removed or reduced
1/01/2005Treatmentcoated; other; varnish removed or reduced
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902

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1563 (Renaissance)
oil on panel
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 38 1/2 x W: 27 3/4 in. (97.8 x 70.5 cm)


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