Mary, Lady Guildford

Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford (1499–after 1527), calmly gazes at the viewer from within a grand setting embellished by a marble column decorated in an Italianate style. She and her husband, Sir Henry Guildford, were among Holbein’s most important patrons during the artist’s first stay in England. While the sophisticated backdrop, jewelry, and fashionable dress, painted using lavish quantities of gold, denote Lady Guildford’s social status, the portrait also aims to communicate her piety and virtue. She clutches a religious book and a rosary, as if caught in a moment of reading or praying. The sprig of rosemary attached to her bodice is a traditional symbol of remembrance.

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543)
Mary, Lady Guildford, 1527
Oil on panel
Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase; 1:1943