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Portrait of a Lady in a Plumed Hat
Italian, North
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This unidentified woman wears a costume dating from the second half of the 1560s or early 1570s. Her feathered jewelled hat is influenced by fashion in Lombardy and Venice, and her costume resembles that in a portrait drawing of a similar date attributed to Sofonisba Anguissola (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden). The portrait has previously been thought to be by Giuseppe Salviati or Niccolò dell’Abate.

The lady wears a gold crucifix on a triple chain around her neck and a gold pendant hanging from a black ribbon. The figure in silhouette on her pendant holds a tall object that resembles a distaff, used in spinning. The distaff is the symbol of Nona, the Roman goddess of pregnancy and the spinner of the thread of life. Pregnant women called upon her when their baby was due to be born; the young lady may be pregnant and wearing the pendant as a charm.

Key facts
Artist Italian, North
Full title Portrait of a Lady in a Plumed Hat
Date made probably 1565-75
Medium and support Oil on paper, mounted on canvas
Dimensions 44.8 x 34 cm
Acquisition credit Sir Claude Phillips Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG4033
Location in Gallery Not on display
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