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As with many portraits of the period, the identity of both sitter and artist is uncertain. The lady's fashionable and richly embroidered attire, with its profusion of expensive lace, indicates that she is of high birth, and probably a member of the Jacobean court. However, her loose hair, decked with pansies known as 'heart's ease', her location out of doors beside a peach tree, and the gesture with which she lifts her shawl as if to shield herself from the sun strongly suggest that the portrait has a personal allegorical significance that is now lost. The date 1615 is inscribed on the column beside her.

August 2004