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Cologne, Unknown artist, Portrait of a Woman

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Woman
Artist Cologne, Unknown artist
Date made about 1495
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 38.4 × 28.5 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2670
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Woman
Cologne, Unknown artist

Although we don't know the identity of this woman, her clothing and the objects around her suggest that she was painted in around 1500 and most probably came from Cologne. The portrait was almost certainly part of a diptych (a painting made of two panels), which could have been hinged at the centre. The woman is turned towards the left-hand panel, which might have shown the Virgin Mary or perhaps an image of her betrothed or husband.

The symbols on the ledge – the flowers in the cup and the apple – could refer either to the Virgin or to marriage, but it is unclear which is intended without knowing the subject of the other panel in the diptych. The woman holds a rosary, used as an aid when reciting prayers to the Virgin.

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