Portrait of Louisa Bělská

Josef Mánes

Josef Mánes - Portrait of Louisa Bělská
One of Mánes's best pictures is this portrait of the wife of the Prague builder Jan Bělský, with whose family the artist was on friendly terms. Architect Bělský participated in the building of the church in Karlín, his brother Václav Bělský was in the 1860s mayor of Prague, who was chiefly responsible for Mánes's commission to paint the calendar plate for the Prague astronomical clock. It is highly probable that Mánes's anonymous 1855 Portrait of a Builder (at the National Gallery) is the portrait of architect Bělský. The portrait of Luisa Bělská is one of the few portraits, in which a subjective interest and personal relations with the model are apparent even in a commissioned work. The contemporaneous conventions are pushed aside by psychological depth, a strange mysterious atmosphere and delicate painting. Mánes masterfully captured the elusive expression of the face and achieved an exceptionally emotional impact by his sophisticated layering of fleshy colours.
measurements: height 63 cm
width 50 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: O 2686
gallery collection: Collection of 19th Century Art and Classical Modernism