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François Quesnel, Portrait of a Lady

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Lady
Artist François Quesnel
Artist dates 1543 - 1619
Date made about 1575
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 36.9 × 27.6 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2617
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Lady
François Quesnel

A richly dressed lady gazes out at us from this painting. We don't know who she is but the jewellery and fabrics she wears could only have been afforded by the exceptionally wealthy. The extravagance of her dress is comparable with that worn by royalty.

She was perhaps unmarried: she faces right, and if this portrait was part of a pair of a married couple the lady would usually have been on our right, facing left. Her clothes are French in style, but the transparent oversleeves she wears seem to have been fashionable in England in the 1560s and 1570s. It’s possible that she was not French but had adopted French fashions in dress, retaining her English oversleeves.

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