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Her rich dress and jewels show that this woman was of high rank, although her identity is unclear. Her most notable piece of jewellery is the cameo suspended on a black ribbon. It shows the figure of Prudence, one of the cardinal virtues and considered then an especially appropriate quality in a woman.

The remains of an inscription, upper right, date the picture to between 1565 and 1568. The large heraldic arms were added later; they belonged to Lady Eleanor Brandon, but she cannot be the lady depicted because she had died in 1547, around twenty years before this was painted.

February 2004