The costly, pearl-bedecked attire of the sitter belongs to the elaborate costume of the 16th-century German aristocracy. The distinctive headdress covering all of her hair indicates that she is married, following centuries-old German custom. Her youth and the lavish ensemble of jewellery suggests that this portrait was painted shortly after her wedding, quite possibly to mark the occasion, and it is almost certain that there would have been a pendant portrait of the bridegroom (now lost). The two gold ring-necklaces serve as carriers of personal meaning: the links of the upper necklace contain a clasped-hand emblem, a symbol of friendship and possibly the badge of a Christian confraternity; those of the lower necklace contain the letter 'N', almost certainly referring to the name of her husband.
Hans Krell was a painter in the service of King Louis II of Bohemia and Hungary, working mostly in Prague. His connections with Germany remained strong: he painted members of the ruling families of Saxony and was awarded the freedom of Leipzig in 1533. The sitter's restrained attitude and rich array of jewellery draw a resemblance between this picture and Krell's portrait of Hedwig, Electress of Brandenburg (1513-1573). It is likely that the sitter in the present picture is lady of either the Saxon or the Brandenburg nobility.
We are grateful to Ludwig Meyer for his help with this note and with the attribution of the picture.