Anthony Van Dyck was a Flemish painter who worked extensively in Italy and England. This is a portrait of the French Rachel de Ruvigny, Countess of Southampton who married Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton.
They had two daughters together in their six years of marriage, Elizabeth and Rachel Wriothesley and Rachel de Ruvigny died giving birth to a third in 1640 – the year of this painting. The skull on the bottom right-hand side indicates that this painting was almost certainly a posthumous portrait painted after Rachel de Ruvigny’s death.
Anthony Van Dyck’s portrait of Rachel de Ruvigny, Countess of Southampton can be found in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne where it has been since being purchased by the gallery in 1922.