Unknown woman, possibly Lady Arabella Stuart

1 portrait

Unknown woman, possibly Lady Arabella Stuart, by Unknown artist,  - NPG 1723 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Unknown woman, possibly Lady Arabella Stuart

by Unknown artist
oil on panel
7 3/8 in. x 5 1/4 in. (187 mm x 133 mm)
Purchased, 1914
Primary Collection
NPG 1723


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This intriguing image has traditionally been identified as Lady Arabella Stuart due to its similarity to authenticated portraits of the Scottish noblewoman. Arabella was a direct descendant of Henry VII and, as such, represented a rival to Elizabeth I's monarchy. The costume, hairstyle and facial likeness to other portraits indicate that this identification may be plausible.
It is not clear what purpose this small scale painting on paper was originally meant to serve. The honeysuckle in the sitter's right hand could be interpreted as a traditional symbol of love. It is possible that the painting was intended as a love token. However, it could also have been one among a series of other small scale family portraits displayed as a group to demonstrate dynastic links.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 23
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 689
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 302

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top