Woman Before a Plaster Relief
The setting of this puzzling scene may represent the artist’s studio, lined as it is with books and adorned with plaster casts of sculptures. (The relief mounted on the back wall is a reproduction of a famous fifth-century marble from the Temple of Nike on the Acropolis in Athens, showing the goddess adjusting her sandal.) The woman—who may or may not be the subject of the painting—could be a model, patron, or visiting friend. Her figure is truncated below the shoulders, as if she herself were a portrait bust, so one can only surmise why she is there and what she might be doing.