This painting is a perfect illustration of Holbein's success in portraying women in their imperfection: with tremendous sympathy, but without the idealising abstraction which renders so many portraits of women from all periods of history as ciphers of contemporary fashion and beauty, and thus as much less interesting and individual than their male counterparts.

The lady wears a white cape and hat; she is holding the brown squirrel, and the starling is on a branch at her shoulder. One of the most striking characteristics of the Lady is her reticence, allied to stillness. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.


G.van Slingeland; sale, The Hague, 1752; Anon. sale, Prestage & Hobbs, London 1761; George, 3rd Earl of Cholmondeley; by descent to Marquess of Cholmondeley.

Back to top