This artwork is of Lady Anne Pope (?-1629), the daughter of Sir William Pope and Anne Pope, and is likely to have been painted in an attempt to find a suitor for her. It didn’t work as she remained unmarried, with the pearls, long hair and cherries all indicating a pure and virtuous woman. The painter was Robert Peake (1551?-1619) who worked in the Royal Court under Queen Elizabeth I, before later becoming the Serjeant Painter to King James I.
It is really just an early version of Tinder and it must have been quite a nuisance to have to find a date by having a painting drawn by an expensive artist (although by all accounts, Sir William Pope could afford it). But such were the responsibilities no doubt of the upper classes at this time, they had to find someone appropriate. Peake also painted the portrait of Elizabeth Pope, who was Anne’s sister-in-law, at the same time, and in this case, the artwork might have perhaps been more of a status symbol.
The Tate acquired this painting, which was presented anonymously to them, in 1955. At that time, the artwork was in Wroxton Abbey in Oxfordshire, although the lease had been taken over by Trinity College, Oxford University. It’s not likely that the artwork ever left Wroxton Abbey, as this was the family estate rebuilt by Sir William Pope. And so here in Tate Britain it now permanently resides.