London – Westminster – Tate Britain (Lady Kytson by George Gower)

This artwork doesn’t make Lady Kytson (1547-1628) look the most glamorous, but it wasn’t the done thing at this time to smile for portraits. She was a brave lady and remained a Catholic at a time when this wasn’t perhaps entirely wise under the Protestant rule of Queen Elizabeth I, meaning that Kytson was arrested and her activities were monitored.

The artist was George Gower (1540-1596) who was a popular portrait painter of the period (there were more P’s there than I initially intended). This artwork was acquired by the Tate in 1952 and is the oldest surviving work by Gower, along with the portrait of her husband, Sir Thomas Kytson. By 1581, Gower had become the Serjeant Painter to Queen Elizabeth, meaning that he had become something of a court favourite. As an aside, the gallery only worked out what the hat she was wearing was meant to look like when the painting was thoroughly cleaned in 1995.