Hartslief's experimentation with chiaroscuro techniques derives inspiration from the works by 17th century Baroque masters such as Rembrandt who, through the buildup of impasto paint, evoked light and shadow in his portraits as a psychological device, similar to the way in which stage-lighting functions in the theatre. Often seeming to be lit from below, the expressive shading in Hartslief's portraits tends to converge around the facial hollows, giving the paintings a spatial as well as emotional depth. The eyes of the women in her portraits, in particular, seem inwardly focused.
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