In 1527, Hans Holbein the Younger painted Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford, and her husband Sir Henry Guildford. Lady Mary and her husband were important patrons of Holbein. The painting features a marble column decorated in an Italianate style and green grape vines symbolizing wealth. Her piety is referenced through her inclusion of a book of hours and a rosary.
The preparatory drawing of Lady Mary shows a captivating young woman glancing off to the side. It is intriguing to compare this lively sketch with the more formal painting that would result from it. The painting can be seen today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City alongside another depiction of Lady Mary created in 1647 by Wenceslaus Hollar.
Lady Mary’s portrayal in art has been celebrated for centuries as one of Holbein’s finest works, showcasing his remarkable technique for capturing not just physical appearance but also inner character. Through this exquisite portrait, we can appreciate Holbein’s ability to depict life with clarity and precision while conveying subtle emotions like piety or wealth symbolized by certain items within the portrait such as books or plants. It stands as a testament to Renaissance portraiture while also revealing important historical context regarding patronage between artists and their benefactors during this time period.