The Lady or the Angel

Rembrandt's portrait, Woman with a Pink, is a dark, yet very warm portrait of a woman holding a pink carnation. The background is very dark, though we can see a hint of wainscoting on the wall. The woman seems to be lost in thought and thinking deeply on something, quietly contemplating, almost sad. Her large eyes look down and not at the "camera," as if she is quite alone. She is richly dressed, especially for the austere Dutch culture in which she must have lived, so we assume she is an important personage. Her jewelry, clothing embroidery and headdress appear to be gold, but we cannot really even guess at the material of her gown, as it fades into the darkness.

The artist's use of color is very limited to browns, golds and various shades of rose, with the exception of her almost alabaster skin. Her face has no rosiness, and her cheeks seem quite flat, so we can assume she used no cosmetics at all, and did not pinch her cheeks. The only hint of cheek bone isw the shadow on her right cheek. We don't even see her neck as it is mostly lost in the shadow. All the colors used appear to be warm as there is not a hint of blues or greens anywhere, yet there is also no pink at all in her skin. We cannot see her ear, but the earring glows brightly, setting off the three-quarter face and balancing the forehead decoration onm her very high forehead. We cannot see her hair enough to guess the color, though we know it is not black and not platinum either. The brush strokes are quite visible, more so on her deep rose gown than on her skin, especially her face. They make her appear rustic and a little severe, as the finish is slightly mottled. Her heart shaped face and very straight roman nose would have made her quite a beauty of her day.

The balance of the canvas is not quite symmetrical, as she occupies more than half of it. Her body occupies the lower right diagonal and her head covers part of the other half. I wonder about the artist's choice to place the wainscoting right at a lever with her nose and eyes, as I found it a bit distracting. However, this portrait is captivating all the same in the power it ascribes to the subject, setting her out from the dark background and painting her as if we are peeking in on a solitary moment of thought. The light seems only to fall on her, and we are so close to her, it seems as if she should notice us, but she is lost in thought. Most of the visibleā€¦