Skip to main content

Swabian, Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family
Artist Swabian
Date made about 1470
Medium and support Oil on silver fir
Dimensions 53.7 × 40.8 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG722
Location Room 25
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family

The woman’s large white headdress, its calligraphic shape made up of stiff, angular folds, is striking against the dark background. Shading around the folds reinforces the sense of their depth, and the artist seems to want us to think that a fly, deceived by his illusion, has attempted to land on the headdress. The fly is, of course, also part of the deception and perhaps intended to reinforce the artist’s mastery.

With slim fingers the sitter gestures towards a sprig of forget-me-nots. The flowers were sometimes a symbol of marriage, so she may have been portrayed to commemorate an engagement, but they also refer to remembrance. Perhaps they are an invitation to remember the sitter through this portrait when absent, or even after her death.

The inscription at the top of the painting reads: GEBORNE HOFERIN. This means that the woman is from the Hofer family, but as this was a common surname in southern Germany at the time it doesn't help to identify her.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo