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“Portrait of an Old Woman” by Hans Memling

Portrait of an Old Woman Hans Memling

“Portrait of an Old Woman” by Hans Memling

“Portrait of an Old Woman” by Hans Memling portrays an old woman’s face with a headdress which dominates the painting. Memling has created a dramatic contrast between her cream headdress and the black background. The panel we see today has been cut down in size given its tight framing, however, the subtle treatment of skin tones, after 500 years of historical handling demonstrates Memling’s skills and restoration efforts.

This painting was most probably part of a donor wing, for a diptych or triptych set of religious paintings which were at some stage taken apart and treated as separate painted panels. It is believed that the “Portrait of an Elderly Man” now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York was part of the original complete diptych or triptych religious set, representing husband and wife. Unfortunately, the identity of the woman and man have been lost to history after 500 years of different owners and homes.

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Portrait of an Old Woman

  • Title:             Portrait of an Old Woman
  • Artist:           Hans Memling
  • Year:             1470
  • Medium:      Oil on wood panel
  • Dimensions: Height: 25.6 cm (10.1 in). Width: 17.7 cm (7 in).
  • Museum:      Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Hans Memling

  • Name:         Hans Memling
  • Birth:           1430 – Seligenstadt near Frankfurt, Germany
  • Died:           1494 (64 years) – Bruges
  • Nationality: German
  • Notable works:
    • Last Judgement
    • Advent and Triumph of Christ
    • Passion Altarpiece/Polyptych
    • Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine
    • Portrait of Maria Portinari


    “Life is not about how fast you run,
    or how high you climb,
    but how well you bounce.”
    – Texas Proverbs


    Photo Credit: Hans Memling [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons