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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Portrait of a Lady


Creator: Cornelius Johnson (1593-1661) (artist)
Creation Date: 
Signed and dated 1624
Materials and techniques: 
Oil on panel
43.8 x 33.0 cm
OM 133
First recorded, as the Queen of Bohemia, in the reign of George II

The small scale of this picture, in between a life-size portrait and a miniature is unusual, although there are other instances by this artist. As is typical in the work of Cornelius Johnson, the sitter's costume is depicted in seemingly accurate and painstaking detail.

The unidentified sitter in this enigmatic portrait is possibly in mourning for a loved one. The matt black fabrics seen here would have been considered appropriate at such a time. Near her heart is pinned a ribbon point, usually used to lace garments together, which is perhaps worn as a love token. Her earring is very unusual, consisting of a selection of pendants (including praying hands) and a fine chain reaching to her shoulder.

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