Portrait of a Lady with the Attributes of Saint Agatha

The lady in the picture is shown with the attributes of Saint Agatha, the 3rd-century martyr who was reported to have been tortured for resisting the advances of the Roman governor. However, technical examination of the painting has shown that the breasts, shears, martyr's palm and halo are later additions, suggesting that the work was originally a portrait, although the sitter remains unidentified.

The letter 'F' before the name 'Sebastianus' in the signature shows that this work was painted in or after the year 1531, when Sebastiano was appointed to the office of the Piombo which carried the honorific title 'Frate' (Friar).

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
about 1485 - 1547
Full title
Portrait of a Lady with the Attributes of Saint Agatha
Date made
about 1540
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
92.4 x 75.3 cm
Inscription summary
Signed
Acquisition credit
Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number
NG24
Location in Gallery