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This portrait is one of several that have only recently been confidently attributed to Anthony van Dyck
The original artwork took on considerable wear and tear over the centuries and was in such bad condition that it was unattributable. A thorough restoration has enabled experts to accurately place it firmly amongst the oeuvre of Anthony van Dyck.
Once the original work could be seen again with the same clarity of when it was first completed, several aspects that were typical of this artist immediately caught the eye. His mastery of drapery was evident, and were the skills of portraiture that he was most famous for.
The major reason for this painting's deterioration was a vanish that was added over the top some time after the painting had been completed. It is unlikely that the artist himself would have requested such an addition and it was only recently that the negative impact of the varnish has been reversed.
Olivia Boteler Porter was the daughter of John Boteler, 1st Baron Boteler of Bramfield. She was also the niece of the Duke of Buckingham and additionally was very well connected within the English monarchy. Van Dyck himself was to become particularly well established in the same circles and so such a portrait is unsurprising. The painting is believed to be from the 1630s, at a point when the artist was fully developed and at the peak of his artistic powers.
She would marry a close friend of Van Dyck, Endymion Porter, who also appears in some portrait work completed by the artist. In her hair is a small red carnation which serves both an aesthetic role but also is likely included because of its symbolism to one part of her family. Several members of the De Villiers family also have been painted with such an item in their hair, with Olivia being connected to this family through her mother, Elizabeth.