Rogier van der Weyden’s Portrait of a Lady is a small oil-on-oak panel painting created approximately in 1460. The composition uses geometric shapes to create the lines of the woman’s veil, neckline, face, and arms. The fall of the light that illuminates her face and headdress further emphasizes this.
The scarlet belt serves as a foil to elevate her delicately clasped hands. As a portrait painter, Van der Weyden excelled in presenting his subject’s character vividly. This particular work conveys the woman’s mental concentration through downcast eyes, firmly set lips, and tense fingers.
Van der Weyden is known for using an unusually broad range of colors and tones. In his finest work like Portrait of a Lady used as an example here, he ensured that each tone was not repeated elsewhere on the canvas – even with whites being diversified themselves.
Overall, Van der Weyden used all aspects at his disposal to present the essence of his subject in this classic painting: light and shadow play off each other; relative size and form help guide viewers’ eyes around this masterpiece while conveying her personality through subtle cues like hand placement or facial expression.