Young Girl in Castle Window
This oil painting on canvas stretched onto a wooden panel is a romantic half-length portrait of a beautiful melancholic young woman in a castle. The woman, wearing an elaborate red medieval-style dress, has her arms rested on the stone niche of a castle window while staring into the distance. Her hands are gently folded by her left cheek and she appears to be in an entranced state, as if she is daydreaming. Although the artist and date of the work are unknown, the painting’s style is reminiscent of the baroque period with its use of chiaroscuro lighting. The artist’s treatment of light and shadow draws the viewer’s gaze to the woman’s expression and emphasizes the contours of her romanticized pose against the darker setting. The overall dark appearance of the work is due to a discoloured artist’s varnish, which has naturally darkened over time and is indicative of its age. The painting is held within a lovely decorative gold painted frame with a speckled texture and carved ornaments that accentuate the warm tones of the artwork. The hand-crafted ornaments include seashell forms, ribbons, and foliage, concentrated at the curved corners and centre edges of the frame.
At this time in France, Louis XIV (1643–1715) ruled the country for 72 years and 110 days, the longest reign of any sovereign country monarch in history. During his sustained rule, the king transformed the royal hunting lodge of Versailles into one of the world’s most luxurious palaces. Louis became known as the “Sun King”, as he viewed himself to be a direct representative of God, with a divine right to wield absolute power. The sun emblem illustrated his position as the centre of the realm, with all activity and life orbiting around him. The events of his reign forever transformed the French monarchy, and ushered in a golden age of the arts.