London – Westminster – Tate Britain (Lady Elizabeth Grey by Paul Van Somer)

Lady Elizabeth Grey, the Countess of Kent (1582–1651), looks a formidable character in this painting by Paul Van Somer (1578-1621). She was married to Henry Grey, the 8th Earl of Kent, a land-owner and MP, but they didn’t have children to pass their wealth onto. Grey’s interesting, er, display in her painting wasn’t unusual for a mature woman of the time, but only one from the middle or upper classes would get away with that.

The artwork was painted in around 1619, but what is perhaps the most notable about this is that it became part of the art collection of King Charles I. It was later acquired by Friends of the Tate Gallery in 1961, although there’s no other provenance listed on the gallery’s web-site, so goodness knows where it has been for the last few centuries…..