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Portrait of an Unknown Woman


RCIN 406024

The figure in this enigmatic portrait is probably wearing masque costume. The masque was a form of elite courtly entertainment which combined allegorical storylines with elaborate stage sets and imaginative costumes. The metallic fringing and spangles decorating the diaphanous mantle would have been particularly effective for a candlelit performance, as were the colours. The dramatist Ben Jonson considered “white, carnation, and a kind of Sea-Water Greene” most appropriate colours for masque dress.

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