OLD MASTER PAINTINGS

Choosing the Rose

Choosing the Rose

Artist: Jean-François Portaels (Belgian, 1818-1895)

Title: Choosing the Rose

Signed 'J. Portaels.' (lower left)

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 40¼ x 30 3/8 in. (102.2 x 77 cm.)

The judgement of Jean-François Portaels' contemporaries was that he 'is and will remain the painter of everyday elegance and feminine grace' (Edmond-Louis de Taeye, Les artistes belges contemporains. Leur vie - leurs oeœuvres - leur place dans l'art, Brussels, 1894), and with hindsight it may be added that through his art and his directorship of the Royal Academy in Brussels he was a great influence on a
Portaels was the first Belgian artist to paint exotic and Orientalist subjects at first-hand, travelling widely through Italy, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Judea, Spain, Hungary and Norway. He achieved great success exhibiting a series of portraits of beauties he had encountered during his travels, exemplified by the portrait of a young woman in the traditional dress of Trieste.
Choosing the Rose probably dates from 1864, when Portales visited Trieste, which was at the time a free port within the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The status of the city as a trading centre and its location on the Adriatic Sea, a meeting point between the East and West, gave it a cosmopolitan and exotic appeal which attracted the artist. Courtesy of Christies
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