Maria van Wassenaer Hanecops by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt (1576 – 1641)

The subject of this portrait, Maria van Wassenaer Hanecops, was born c.1542 and died sometime after 1612, when this portrait was painted. The artist, Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt, was born in the Delft and was one of the most successful Dutch portraitists of the 17th Century. From 1590 Mierevelt devoted himself entirely to the art of portraiture. In 1607 he was appointed official painter of the Stadholder court of Mauritz, the Prince of Orange-Nassau (1567-1625), whom he portrayed in the same year. This role emphasised his status as the most fashionable portrait painter of his day, with him receiving commissions not only from noble families of the Dutch Republic but also from visitors abroad.

Mierevelt’s work comprises predominantly head and shoulder and half-length portraits, where the sitter is placed at an angle, with head and body in the same direction, against a monochrome background, so as not to distract the gaze. The eye is led towards the sitter’s face through light accents revealed by details such as clothing. 

The portrait came into the donor's family by descent from the family of JG Williams, solicitor and former Mayor of Lincoln in 1899, most likely through the Dutch Jelley connection of his wife's family. It was presented to the Usher Gallery by Mrs Vivien Stapylton-Smith through The Art Fund in 2006.

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