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“The Lady with a Fan” by Diego Velázquez

"The Lady with a Fan" by Diego Velázquez

“The Lady with a Fan” by Diego Velázquez

“The Lady with a Fan” by Diego Velázquez depicts a woman wearing a black lace veil on her head and a dark dress with a low-cut bodice.

It is an enigmatic portrait as there is no documentary information about the portrait; the sitter’s identity has not yet conclusively been verified.

Most other Velázquez portraits are recognizable likenesses of the members of the Spanish royal family, their courtiers, and court servants.

The details of the costume suggest that the sitter could be Marie de Rohan, the Duchess of Chevreuse, as she is dressed according to the French fashion of the period.

There is documented evidence that Velázquez painted a Frenchwoman, in a letter dated 1638. Velázquez claims to have portrayed the exiled Duchess of Chevreuse, who was then living in Madrid under the protection of the King.

The letter claims that the Duchess had escaped from France disguised as a man. However, other experts argued at the features of the sitter differ remarkably from other images of the Duchess.

Marie de Rohan

Marie de Rohan (1600 – 1679) was a French courtier and political activist involved in many of the intrigues of the first half of the 17th century in France. 

As the Duchess of Chevreuse, she was an intimate friend of the Spanish-born Queen of France, Anne of Austria.

She was banished from the French court after she had encouraged the pregnant queen in boisterous games in the corridors of the Louvre, resulting in a miscarriage.

In her attempts to regain her lost position, she provoked and encouraged conspiracies in the French court.

Her political conspiring brought her the hostility of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu and, in 1637, forced her to escape to Spain.

In various sources, she is often known as Madame de Chevreuse. Her spouses included the Duke of Luynes and later the Duke of Chevreuse, and she has featured in various works of fiction. 

Alexandre Dumas entangles her in the plots of “The Three Musketeers,”  and his book “Twenty Years After.” She has also featured in Doctor Who and several French novels.

Diego Velázquez

Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660) was a Spanish painter, who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV, and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age.

Velázquez’s artwork from the first quarter of the nineteenth century was a model for the realist and impressionist painters, in particular, Édouard Manet.

Many modern artists, including Picasso and Dalí, have paid tribute to Velázquez by recreating several of his most famous works.

The Lady with a Fan

  • Title:                       The Lady with a Fan
  • Spanish:                  La dama del abanico
  • Artist:                      Diego Velázquez
  • Year:                       1635
  • Medium:                 oil on canvas
  • Dimensions            Height: 95 cm (37.4 in) Width: 70 cm (27.5 in)
  • Type:                      Portrait Painting
  • Museum:               Wallace Collection

Diego Velázquez

“The Lady with a Fan” – Diego Velazquez

Virtual Tour of the Wallace Collection

Missing Velázquez masterpiece found after 300 years

Famous Portrait Paintings

Diego Velazquez: A collection of paintings


“I would rather be the first painter of common things than second in the higher art.”
– Diego Velázquez


Photo Credit: Diego Velázquez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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