London – Westminster – Tate Britain (An Unknown Lady by Marcus Gheeraerts II)

Nothing is known of this lady, other than she’s pregnant and wealthy, that’s about the limit to what can be worked out. This is a shame, here she is presented in one of the world’s finest art galleries and no-one knows who she is. They’re not even entirely sure who painted the artwork, but it’s probably Marcus Gheeraerts II (1561-1636), who worked at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

The artwork was painted in around 1595 and the gallery has done a huge amount of work on it, including analysing most of the paintwork and putting it through an x-ray machine. For a while, the artist was thought to be William Segar and it was only after cleaning of the painting that it was re-attributed. Most of this work was done just after 2001, which is when the painting came to the Tate in lieu of tax. There’s a bit of a gap in the provenance of the painting, although the gallery knows that it was owned by Walter Waring in the eighteenth-century, namely because he wrote this on the back of the artwork. Handy.

But, to whoever the lady in the painting is, her image is now seen by hundreds of people every day, so I’m guessing that she’d probably be quite pleased.