Skip to main content

Lady in a Fur Wrap - The Mystery Lingers

One of art’s great mysteries is on the way to being solved following the initial finding of a four-year research project focusing on one of Glasgow Museums’ most famous paintings. Lady in a Fur Wrap is renowned as one of the finest portraits to be produced in Europe during the late 16th century, but remains unsigned. Up until now the painting of a young woman gazing at the viewer while wrapped in a fur robe, which has hung in Pollok House in Glasgow since 1967, has been attributed to Spanish Renaissance master, El Greco (1514-1561). After more than 100 years of debate, however, historians and scientists have applied state-of-art techniques to declare the painting to be the work of another Spanish artist, Alonso Sánchez Coello (1531-1588).

This conclusion is the result of extensive scientific detective work carried out by experts at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and later at the University of Glasgow in partnership with Glasgow Museums. Investigations began while the painting was on loan to the Prado in Madrid in 2014 to mark the fourth centenary of El Greco’s death, with tests also carried out on works by El Greco and others, including Sánchez Coello. An extensive research project in Glasgow looked forensically at technique, style and social mores of the painting’s era, including dress.

Lady in a Fur Wrap has a colourful history. The painting was bequeathed to the city of Glasgow in 1967 by Dame Anne Maxwell Macdonald, grand-daughter of its owner, Sir William Maxwell, who purchased it in 1853 after it previously hung in the Louvre as part of the Spanish collection of King Louis Philippe of France. As El Greco’s international reputation was cemented on the back of Lady in a Fur Wrap, more sceptical scholars have always questioned the veracity of his involvement in its creation. Other suspects in the frame included Italian Renaissance painter Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625), though all evidence eventually pointed to Sánchez Coello.

As Dr Hilary Macartney, who led the research at the University of Glasgow, points out, “In his time, Sánchez Coello was better known and more admired than El Greco. The misattribution of the Lady was instrumental in establishing El Greco’s reputation outside Spain in the 19th century. More recently, the portrait’s popular association with Sofonisba Anguissola helped revive interest in her work. Now, at last, it will re-establish the international reputation that Alonso Sánchez Coello deserves.”

Despite this, with preparations underway to return Lady in a Fur Wrap to Pollok House in 2020, the painting retains an air of intrigue worthy of historical fiction. As Duncan Dornan, head of Glasgow Museums, points out, while what can now be regarded as Sánchez Coello’s painting remains a fascinating portrait, “although we now understand who painted the work, the identity of the mysterious lady is still unanswered. It is certain the Lady in a Fur Wrap will continue to intrigue and inspire for generations to come.”

Scottish Art News, November 18th 2019


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug