Portrait of a Lady
  • Date: c. 1630
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 101.8 x 73.6 cm
  • Frame size: 120.8 x 92.7 x 6 cm
  • Inv: P30
  • Location: East Drawing Room
Copy and paste the URL below to share this page:
Further Reading
  • A young woman with an engaging smile is depicted standing and turned slightly to the left. Her hair is combed back tightly and held in place with a tiara decorated with pearls. She wears a black gown with a square neckline, with slashed sleeves that reveal a white chemise with gold embroidery and trimmed with lace cuffs. Her jewellery includes pearl earrings and a large brooch, pinned to her breast, which hangs from a long chain around her neck. She stands before a billowing green curtain behind which an atmospheric sky can be seen.

    The identity of the sitter remains uncertain. Given that this composition exists in at least seven versions, she was clearly a figure of some renown to Rubens’s contemporaries. The portrait was acquired in 1853 as a portrait of Isabella Brant (c. 1591–1626), Rubens’s first wife, but this identification is no longer accepted, nor is the proposal that it represents her youngest sister Clara Brant (1599–1639). The Wallace Collection portrait was also once owned by the painter’s descendants, which suggests that the sitter was of some significance to Rubens himself.

    The painting was admired by the British painter Joshua Reynolds during a visit to the Netherlands in 1781. He was particularly impressed by the arrangement of the sitter’s hands (‘the hands are across, or rather one over the other, finely coloured and drawn…’).

    The portrait is painted on an oak panel of a high quality, which is stamped on the verso with the arms of the city of Antwerp (a castle with two raised hands above) and the monogram MV for Michiel Vriendt, who was Rubens’s preferred panel maker, who died in 1636/7.

    Conservation treatment in 2022 has revealed the high quality of the painting and accompanying technical analysis has shown that the image was composed with the use of an underdrawing in a dry medium.