Margaret White – Lady Lee was the sister of the famous court poet Sir Thomas White. She and her sister Mary were the maids of honor of Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. Margarita White was among the closest friends of the queen, was devoted to all her secrets and feelings, hopes and sorrows.
When Anna Boleyn was accused of treason in May 1536 and thrown into the Tower, Margaret White was sent there to serve the disgraced queen. She was with the queen until the last minute in the cell and when the queen was climbing the scaffold, and after the execution she organized a modest funeral for the queen, as far as was possible in those circumstances.
The portrait was written by Hans Holbein the Younger a few years after the execution of Queen Anne Holbein, around 1539-40. Before us is an intelligent and sophisticated aristocrat, looking thoughtfully and seriously, either in a terrible past, or into an unknown future. Lady Li’s face is strangely calm, it feels the unyielding will, the firm character of this fragile and much surviving woman.
Hans Holbein the Younger all the attention in this work was paid to Margarita White, no extraneous or additional details in the picture, no drapery, no accessories, only a neutral dark background of a noble hue. The face is modeled amazingly plastic, it is alive and voluminous. As always, the artist carefully depicted clothes and accessories.
Art critics at all times stressed that the portraits of Hans Holbein can be judged on the fashion of that era and they can serve as examples for illustrating the history of the costume. How strikingly written expensive and exquisite fabric dresses, its matte shine, the finest tints of patterns and draperies. Pearls on the headdress hoop, noble metal with engraving and black velvet – what color depth and how many shades!
The portrait was created by Hans Holbein the Younger, the great artist of the Northern Renaissance, and the period of heyday and the highest rise of his talent. This is one of the outstanding masterpieces of world portrait painting.