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Changes to the pose of the sitter

xray of painting, with the figure of a seated lady partly obscured by other brushstrokes

Zoom into the detail of this x-ray

It seems that the altered pose of the sitter is not just a change in the position of the hands. In the x-ray the folds of drapery sweeping diagonally to the lower right corner, the rounded shape of the drapery to the lower left, the two earlier positions of the arms and the absence of the column on the right show that the Viscountess was originally seated in a landscape beneath a tree while to her right were possibly hills and a stretch of water. The curious linear shape above the sitter’s head may be an initial line sketching in of a compositional feature that was not included in either version.

It became clear that the complex layer structure visible in the paint cross sections could be interpreted as two compositions:

  • the thick, pink ground layer of paint consistent at the bottom in each
  • the lower layers of paint relating to the earlier outdoor composition, sketched in thinly
  • the uppermost layers relating to the final composition, which shows the Viscountess standing up indoors.