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Jean-François Portaels | A Sicilian bride, 1861

Jean-François Portaels | A Sicilian bride, 1861 | Royal Collection of the United Kingdom

Three-quarter length, facing half left, her head turned to the viewer; seated on a stone bench; she wears a white dress with red trim and flower petals embroidered on the lower sleeves, and a black sleevless garment; with loosely arranged lace headgear; holding a rosary.


Jan Frans Portaels (1818-95) studied at the Brussels Academy under François-Joseph Navez, from 1836-40.
He travelled widely in North Africa, resulting in a series of works in an oriental style.
Upon his return to Belgium he was made director of the Academy in Ghent, in 1847.
He was the head of a studio in Brussels from 1858 to 1870, and was known as a liberal teacher; he rejected strict academic rules and encouraged a wide variety of approaches to painting.

Portaels thus exercised a considerable influence over the younger generation of Belgian artists.
He resigned as Professor of Painting and Drawing at the Brussels Academy, a post held from 1863 to 1865, in order to devote himself to his private practice.
As well as paintings inspired by biblical subjects, Portaels painted a number of portraits and figures in an elegant, finished style, such as these two Sicilian women of 1861.
In 1878 he was appointed Director of the Brussels Academy, a post he held until his death. | Source: © Royal Collection of the United Kingdom