Hans Baldung Grien was Dürer's most gifted pupil, and an artist who soon developed a distinctive style of his own. While his output was varied and extensive, this panel is his only surviving female portrait. Here, the influence of another great German master, Lucas Cranach the Elder, is perceptible in details of the sitter's clothing and accessories, such as the plumed hat and the hairnet of pearls. Yet it remains a wholly enigmatic portrait, in that historians have failed to agree on the lady's identity. It is now widely thought that it is an abstract representation, the idealised figure of a woman rather than the portrait of a specific person.


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