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Portrait of a Lady

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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Catharina van Hemessen is the earliest female Flemish painter for whom verifiable work survives – we can see her name here in a Latin inscription in the top right corner. We don't know who the sitter was, but she was evidently wealthy. Her shirt, visible at her neck and wrists, is ornamented with black embroidery; the bodice of her dress is dark grey corded and watered silk; and her sleeves seem to be red velvet. Her glove is decorated with black embroidery and golden ornaments. Her belt is made of gold and black beads, and black cylinders with gold ends.

A small dog with what seem to be bells on its collar is perched rather insecurely under her arm. Portraits of women with pet animals were quite common in the sixteenth century.

The National Gallery, London



Portrait of a Lady




Oil on oak


H 22.9 x W 17.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by Mrs D.E. Knollys, 1934

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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