Michael Sweerts was a Flemish artist that worked in Italy, India and Syria; however, his home was in Rome. The ‘Head of a Woman’ portrait was painted during the 17th century (approx. 1654). The intricate brushwork gives character to the woman, paying close attention to her facial expression, her clothes and hair. There is a deep appreciation for this portrait since the painting is an excellent portrayal of a peasant woman and exhibits the artists’ interest in the daily life of a common, authentic person.
The portrait is painted onto a black background, giving the total focus to the subject, who is looking directly at the viewer. This particular piece creates a sense of closeness and lends beauty to this particular woman.
The portrait is painted using the bust portrait, a frequently used style during this time. This gives the focus and attention to her head and face, and represents the artists’ intention and purpose to note the individual aspects ...view middle of the document...
It demonstrates her character as kind, her nature as happy and her years of experience through hard work and age. Endurance, contentment and the expression of human dignity radiate from her face, which lends to a content life.
Furthermore, this painting shows the artist’s ability to capture the psychological state through his perception and interpretation by focusing on the physical features, the beauty he sees with his subject. It is evident that the artist has an unapologetic realism, a truthful devotion and respect to the spirit of old age. The artist gives the impression that he is empathetic with his subject and wants to bring to light the domestic virtues of daily life and give the sense that daily life is a struggle. This painting is not a representation of ideal, but rather a realistic portrayal of acceptance.
This acceptance may indicate that there is truth and beauty within the domains of reality and the artist may be extending to his viewers the ability to sharpen their perceptions on beauty. This offers a way for the viewer to be more aware of the most important type of beauty, the beauty that lies within and can be found in the most unanticipated places. This portrait has qualities that establish a mood of peacefulness, tranquility and serenity and creates a uniqueness that sets it apart.
It is very difficult to categorize this painting as a painting. I am amazed at the artistic ability to capture such detail and display it so realistically. It is so realistic and an actual representation of this woman, that it has the quality of a photo taken today, very lifelike.
The museum website, www.getty.edu, offered a diverse population of artwork on display. The website is easy to navigate and the filters provided extra criteria to narrow down the results. It was difficult to choose only one artist or piece of work to discuss, due to the variety of artists and their works. The descriptions with each piece of work gave me an idea about that particular piece of work, the artist and the historical significance. This provided an educational experience for me and increased my awareness that the most famous artists are of a limited group. It is obvious to me now, that there are additional artists who have contributed to the world of art.