Although Hans Holbein the Younger was a German painter, he spent little time in his homeland after commissions for paintings, religious and otherwise, became scarce in Protestant Germany. He settled permanently in London in 1532, and, as court painter during the reign of Henry VIII, specialized in portraying royalty and landed gentry.

The English style of clothing suggests that Holbein painted this thoughtful portrait of a gentlewoman during the 1530s. The painting is startlingly plain, without informative attributes that might identify the sitter. The artist has concentrated on the woman’s personality as expressed in carriage and demeanor, thereby underscoring inner qualities rather than superficial ones.
Artist Hans Holbein the Younger, German, 1497-1543
Title
  • Portrait of a Woman
  • A Woman
Date between 1532 and 1534
Medium Tempera and oil on oak panel
Dimensions Unframed: 9 1/8 × 7 1/2 inches (23.2 × 19.1 cm)
Framed: 15 5/8 × 13 5/8 × 1 1/2 inches (39.7 × 34.6 × 3.8 cm)
Credit Line Bequest of Eleanor Clay Ford
Accession Number 77.81
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W230, Level 2 (see map)
Earl of Lonsdale (Lowther Castle, Penrith, England);
1930, (Duveen Brothers, New York, New York, USA);
1930, Mr. & Mrs. Edsel Ford (Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA);
Eleanor Clay Ford;
1977-present, bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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Bulletin of the DIA: Annual Report 56, no. 5 (1978): pp. 258, 261, 275 (fig. 1).

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