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This heavily pregnant woman may be a member of the Constable family of Everingham, Yorkshire. Her right hand rests protectively over her bump. Her fashionably white skin is emphasised by the black cord wound round one wrist, and the black ribbon round her other wrist. Each is threaded with a ring, probably worn in memory of a dead relative or friend. The artist, Gheeraerts, was born in Bruges. His father, also an artist, brought him to London in 1568, to escape religious persecution in the Catholic Spanish Netherlands. In England, the younger Gheeraerts became the leading portrait-painter of his generation.

February 2016