In the 1921 sale this portrait was identified as of Catherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham (for whom see the catalogue entry for the previous lot). However, in his 1966 article 'The Forgotten Age of English Paintings' on the Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits at Cowdray Park and Parham, Roy Strong suggested that it might alternatively be one of the Countess of Nottingham's three daughters. The eldest of the Countess of Nottingham's daughters Elizabeth Howard (for whom see the following lot) married Robert Southwell, and later the Earl of Carrick, and was one of Queen Elizabeth's Maids of Honour. Their younger daughter Frances Howard (d. circa 1628), married firstly Henry Fitzgerld, 12th Earl of Kildare, and secondly in 1600, after the latter's death and her return from Ireland to England, Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham (1564-1618), and was much favoured by Queen Elizabeth I. At Queen Elizabeth I's death she was one of two countesses appointed to lead a delegation sent to meet Queen Anne of Denmark and she served Anne of Denmark for a while as Princess Elizabeth's governess. Her second husband however, was involved in the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James I for which he was sent to the Tower of London, and forfeited his titles and estates, although his wife remained at Cobham Hall for her life, where she was visited by the King in 1622. The Earl and Countess of Nottingham's third daughter Margaret, married Sir Richard Leveson of Trentham, in Staffordshire.
This portrait and the following two lots are certainly very similar facially and also appear to have been executed by the same hand, as Roy Strong also observed. The subject of this portrait is shown in a dress embroidered with what appear to be intended as armillary or celestial spheres, a popular motif at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, often associated with the Queen herself, serving to emphasize her cosmic presence, but also symbolising the citadel of the kingdom of god. The pink roses that she holds so prominently in her left hand are presumably symbolic of love and may indicate that this portrait celebrates a marriage.