This simple, direct portrait shows the artist’s mother, Anna Westerbaen. The features of the woman resemble her likeness in other paintings (see for example the posthumous double portrait with her husband in the National Gallery of Art, Washington) and her age – 52 in 1657 – conforms precisely with the painting’s inscription.
The daughter of a rope maker from The Hague, Anna Westerbaen was the sister of the physician and poet Jacob Westerbaen and the portrait painter Jan Westerbaen. She married the painter, architect and poet Salomon de Bray in 1625 in The Hague and later moved to Haarlem, where she gave birth to at least ten children.
Anna’s eldest son Jan depicted his mother a number of times in his paintings, but this is the only formal portrait. It possibly once had a pendant showing her husband Salomon. The portrait of her husband is now lost, but a drawing by Jan (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett), bearing the same date of 1657 and similar inscription stating the sitter’s age, seems to record the companion piece.
The panel may have been cut on the left, and the initials preceding the surname of the signature consequently lost. X-ray photographs show that the head was originally further to the left and that the collar was lower.