Pronounced by Friedländer to be by one of the most successful and popular artists working in Antwerp in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, the group of works traditionally given to the Master of the Female Half-Lengths are now perceived to be in large part the product of a workshop, specializing particularly in half-length depictions of the Magdalene and elegantly dressed young ladies. They are shown reading, writing or playing musical instruments, usually in a wood-panelled interior or against a neutral background; some of the women, as in this, are represented with an ointment jar, the attribute of the Magdalene. The workshop also produced a group of landscapes that clearly show the influence of Joachim Patinir, with whose work they were for a long time confused.
This composition is closely comparable with two smaller works in which the figure recurs in the same pose: panels in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg; and in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin (see M.J. Friedländer, op. cit., nos. 98 and 103, pl. 44). The costume of the sitter and the articulation of the backgrounds vary in all three treatments and in this case the right side is enriched by the inclusion of books, a porcelain jar and a candle in a recess. Their presence, combined with the ointment jar and the musical theme, serve to emphasize the underlying vanitas meaning of the subject - the transience of earthly pleasures and beauty.