About this artwork
Produced over the course of 12 years, this portrait depicts Isabella Wolff, one of Sir Thomas Lawrence’s most intimate friends, contemplating a printed image of the Delphic Sibyl from Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel ceiling. Wolff’s serpentine pose cleverly echoes another Sibyl from that same work. The Sibyls were priestesses of Classical legend who made enigmatic judgments and prophecies. They were often pictured according to Western fantasies of the Near East, hence Wolff’s elaborate turban here. Lawrence was famed for his ability to evoke the surface effects and textures of clothing; that talent is on full display in Wolff’s shimmering satin gown.
- Sir Thomas Lawrence
- Isabella Wolff
- England (Artist's nationality)
- Oil on canvas
- 128.2 × 102.4 cm (50 1/2 × 40 5/16 in.)
- Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kimball Collection