Hans Holbein il Giovane - The lady with the squirrel
Hans Holbein il Giovane - The lady with the squirrel

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In the portrait, a detached and solemn-looking woman wears a cap of thick white fur, sitting with a red squirrel on her lap and a starling with shiny feathers on her shoulder, common pets in the 15th century, but also with strong symbolic significance, used as clues to the identity of the subject. It is thought to be Anne Lovell, whose husband, Sir Francis Lovell, was employed in the court of Henry VIII, King of England. Starling is probably intended as a rhyming pun from East Harling, where the family had recently inherited a large estate. Nut-gnawing squirrels are featured in the Lovell family heraldry: East Harling church windows include two of the family crests, each with six red squirrels. The commission may have been the commemoration of the couple's birth of a child in the spring of 1526, but it also has a display of their new status as wealthy landowners.

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