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Hans Holbein the Younger, German, 1497/98–1543
Mary, Lady Guildford, 1527
oil on panel
34 1/4 x 27 13/16 inches
Museum Purchase 1:1943

In this portrait, Lady Mary Guildford (GUILD-ford) is dressed in all the fashionable finery of King Henry VIII’s English court. She wears a black velvet dress decorated with six gold chains, fur trim, and sleeves of golden fabric. Her headpiece, which looks like a building’s pointed roof, was the height of English style at the time. She holds a prayer book and a rosary to show that she is religious. Lady Mary was the wife of Henry Guildford, whose job was to supervise the King’s finances. As appropriate for a husband and wife in such favor with the King, Mary and Henry both had their portraits prepared by court painter Hans Holbein (HOLE-bine) in 1527, when Mary was 27 years old. Today Henry’s portrait is in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.

For younger students:
How many faces do you see in the painting?
If you were going to have your portrait painted, what would you wear?

For older students:
Describe Lady Mary’s expression, pose, and dress.What does each suggest about her personality and status?
What are some things people in the twenty-first century wear to indicate their status?

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