Woman in a Red Dress
The eponymous artist is identified on a brass plaque on the shadow box frame (which is not original). The name does not appear in Thieme-Becker’s Kunstler Lexikon and may be the creation of an art dealer. In which case, it may simply mean this is a portrait of a high court lady named Maria. Possibly one of a pair of half-length portraits with her husband.
She faces left in three-quarters pose. The dark green background is not uncommon in sixteenth-century portraits. The lady wears a red velvet gown with puff sleeves over a patterned linen blouse with small overall embroidered rosettes and broad bands of embroidered foliate design along the neck opening and ruffled collar all done in red thread. The blouse ties at the neck with slender cords. Nearly identical ruffled embroidered collars are seen on linen blouses worn in portraits of the 1530s by Jean Clouet (1485/90 – 1541), a French court painter. A gold chain chatelaine encircles her waist and a pendant is suspended from a red and gold cord around her neck. The pendant has a table-cut red ruby set on a gold rectangular frame with four small square black onyx stones at its corners. Two large pearls are set one above the gold frame and one pendant to it. Embroidered linen frills secured by gold bracelets surround her wrists, and she wears a ring on each hand (with a red or blue stone) on her index fingers, and holds a pair of gloves. Her head is covered with a turban of gold cloth interwoven with a red ribbon in diamond patterns, and there are red bows and pendant pairs of beads at intervals along its edge above her forehead. She has brown hair and eyes, the creases below her eyes are carefully observed and thus suggest that she is a lady of middle age. While she is very richly dressed, her clothing is not as opulent as that worn at royal or ducal courts and so one might assume that she is a wealthy patrician.