Often times one tends to look at a painting and only see a picture. Later, if one looks closer the artist depicts a clear message or meaning. For example at the Phoenix Art Museum there is an oil on canvas painting called Portrait of a lady, by an unknown artist that is just a painting at first glance, but as one examines the painting closer, the story of a wealthy woman in New Spain becomes evident.
This oil on canvas composition illustrates a young lady of the 18th century. The artist draws the ones eye to the lady by making the background dark and plain and making the foreground bright with lots of colors. The artist put a red drape behind the head of the lady; this helps bring out the color of her face and makes the painting a little brighter. .
The artist is depicting a wealthy woman in New Spain in the 18th century. In 18th century Spain the wealthy women wore big lace dresses with lots of jewels all over their body. In the painting the lady had a crown on her head and lots of jewels on her body. The lady in the portrait is meant to be wealthy, one can tell this by the ladies attire, a very nice lace dress with lots of jewels and a crown on her head. .
While the texture of the dress is definite, being very ruff with lace, it is also very soft looking creating the effect of realism in her outfit. It seems as though one could reach out and touch the dress. While the background creates a certain mood of darkness, the bright red drape helps break things up so one can focus on the lady's beauty. The jewels help define the type of person the artist is painting. In addition to the bright red drape in the background, there is a family crest or seal in the upper left hand corner of the painting; this helps one know that the lady may be of royalty.
This piece of art is very simple; "A Portrait of a Lady" is all there is to see. One has to look past the paint on the canvas to see the story behind it.