This splendid picture is a costume piece of the period, and has all the atmosphere of fantasy and poetry associated with Gheeraerts' portraits of fashionable sitters.

As in many allegorical portraits of the time, the subject is not entirely clear, but the firm date makes it a valuable reference point in Jacobean painting. The allegorical setting and the sitter's rich apparel and short skirt suggest that she is a lady of the Court, dressed for a masque, a form of entertainment popular with Queen Anne of Denmark. The picture was attributed by Vertue to Paul van Somer and was later given to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, but neither attribution is now accepted. The Art Fund grant for this painting included four other Elizabethan and Jacobean full length paintings purchased from the Loel Guinness collection.


Sir Henry Lee, Ditchley; Captain Loel Guinness; on loan to Tate since 1953.

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