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This portrait of an unknown lady in a landscape is typical of the small-scale single figures and 'conversation piece' groups in which Devis specialized all his life. His neat and genteel style appealed greatly to the newly enriched middle classes and his attention to detail is of great value to social historians. The house in the background almost certainly portrays the lady's actual home. She holds a knotting shuttle for making lace fringes, an activity considered highly suitable for the ladies of wealthy households. The ball of thread would be in the drawstring work bag hanging from her wrist. Her costume dates the painting to around 1750-55.

September 2004