Through a rounded stone archway, we see an elegantly dressed young woman wearing a hennin and fur-lined bodice. The woman's features are somewhat individualized, although, with her high forehead, covered by a crisp, pressed veil, ruby lips, and rounded neck, her appearance also reflects contemporary standards of idealized female beauty. Unlike many portraits of the day whose subjects wear jewelry or other sartorial items that communicate their identity, this woman’s garments do not provide us with such information, although they do underscore her aristocratic status. The subjects of the Met's Portrait of Maria Portinari
) and Mary of Burgundy
(1975.1.137), the latter also in the Lehman Collection, wear a similar costume to that of the unidentified woman.
Some scholars suggested that Mary of Burgundy (1457 -1482) is the subject of the Lehman portrait. Other extant depictions of Mary of Burgundy show a woman whose features are unlike the sitter in our picture. The same holds true for the proposed identification of the portrait’s subject as Margaret of York (1446 -1503), stepmother to Mary of Burgundy. Furthermore, the woman in the Lehman portrait, although richly appointed – her velvet and gold hennin would have been extremely costly – does not wear the lavish jewels often displayed by Mary of Burgundy. We are unfortunately left without a convincing candidate for the woman’s identity, although the mere fact of her sitting for a portrait indicates her high social status and relative wealth.
Ainsworth and Sterling’s hypothesis that the portrait was initially intended as the left wing of a diptych is convincing. In support of their argument, the authors note that the woman’s position was flipped from the underdrawing stage, which shows the hennin facing the opposite direction (fig. 1), to the current situation with the woman gazing to her proper left side. Parts of this underdrawing now show through paint layers, particularly in her proper left shoulder. Before paint was applied, the decision was taken to create an independent portrait. In fact, the underdrawing also sets out the reversed composition, as can be seen in the lines that follow the contours of the veil as it exists in the final painted version (fig. 2).Attribution and Dating:
The paint surface is abraded, meaning that subtle glazes that refined modeling are lost. Thus, our impression of the artist's technique is, in a sense, incomplete. In the early twentieth century, the painting was attributed to Hugo van der Goes, a fifteenth-century artist whose portraits capture sitters unfiltered, wrinkles and all. However, doubts about such an attribution were cast as early as 1908. Although the portrait was given to Petrus Christus by the eminent Max J. Friedländer, it has generally – and more convincingly – been described as by a Franco-Flemish artist of the later fifteenth century. The trompe-l’oeil setting, added at a later paint stage, connects the portrait to Flemish painting of the mid- to late-fifteenth century, as noted by Sterling and Ainsworth. The Burgundian steeple hennin, worn by the sitter in the Lehman portrait, was popular during the 1470s, reinforcing a dating to that period.
Nenagh Hathaway, 2019
 See Refs., P. Wescher, 1941, p. 200; H. Wescher, 1946, p. 1844.
 See Refs., Delaissé, 1959, p. 194; Szabo, 1975, pp. 83-84; Baetjer (as possibly Margaret of York), 1980, p. 60; Hughes (as possibly Margaret of York), 1984, p. 55; Baetjer (as possibly Margaret of York), 1995, p. 348. Comparisons to either Mary or Margaret are complicated by the tendency of their surviving portraits to display a typological, idealized representation rather than an accurate likeness. Sterling and Ainsworth’s 1998 entry outlines the most prominent identifications, all of which are found unconvincing by both the 1998 authors and the present author. See Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 9.
 Diptych portraits of couples typically placed the man on the left wing, a tendency that provides evidence for Ainsworth and Sterling’s theory. These authors also describe three distinct underdrawing stages, executed in liquid and dry media. See Refs., 1998, pp. 9-10 and n. 10.
 For a summary of previous attributions and a description of the portrait’s French qualities see Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, pp. 7-10.
 See Refs., Sterling and Ainsworth, 1998, p. 7.
 See 2016 entry adapted from Ainsworth 2013: Mary of Burgundy, 1975.1.137
Henri Hymans. "L’exposition de la Toison d’Or à Bruges." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, ser. 3, 38 (1907): p. 202 (as attributed to Hugo van der Goes).
Henri Kervyn de Lettenove et al. Les chefs-d’oeuvre d’art ancient à l’exposition de la Toison d’Or à Bruges en 1907. 1908, no. 92, pl. 45 (as French, fifteenth century).
Sander Pierron. "La peinture à l’exposition de la Toison d’Or à Bruges." Les arts anciens de Flandre 3, no. 1 (1908-09): pp. 27-28.
Hippolyte Fierens-Gevaert. La peinture en Belgique; musées, églises, collections, etc.: Les Primitifs flamands. 4 vols. (1908-12) vol. 2, p. 104, pl. 40 (as Hugo van der Goes).
Louis Maeterlinck. Une école primitive méconnue: Nabur Martins ou le Maître de Flémalle (nouveaux documents). 1913, pl. 40 (as Hugo van der Goes).
Joseph Destrée. Hugo van der Goes. 1914, p. 161 (as French, ca. 1450).
Cornelia B. Sage. "Editorial" [the Mary Blair Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Art at the Albright Art Gallery]. Academy Notes 10 (October, 1915): ill. p. 30.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. 14 vols. Berlin and Leiden, 1924-1937, vol I (1924), p. 158, pl. 70 (as Petrus Christus[?], ca. 1450).
Robert Lehman. The Philip Lehman Collection, New York: Paintings. Paris, 1928, no. 92.
August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Philip Lehman." Pantheon 5 (1930): p. 118, ill. p. 115 (as French[?], mid-fifteenth century).
Charles Sterling [as Charles Jacques (pseud.)] La peinture française: Les peintres du Moyen Âge. Paris, 1941, p. 58, no. 21 (as school of Burgundy, ca. 1470).
Paul R. Wescher. "Das höfische Bildnis von Philip dem Guten bis zu Karl V." Pantheon 28 (1941): p. 200 (as Mary of Burgundy).
Grete Ring. A Century of French Painting, 1400-1500. 1949, p. 218, no. 153 (as French).
Theodore Allen Heinrich. "The Lehman Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12 (April, 1954): p. 222.
L. M. J. Delaissé. Miniatures médéviales de la Librarie de Bourgogne au Cabinet des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique. 1959, p. 194 (as Margaret of York).
Robert Lehman. The Robert Lehman Collection. , p. 17 (as Franco-Flemish, second half of the fifteenth century).
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. I, The van Eycks, Petrus Christus, New York, 1967, p. 89, pl. 94 (as Petrus Christus[?], ca. 1450).
George Szabó. The Robert Lehman Collection: A Guide. New York, 1975, pp. 83-84, pl. 60 (as Margaret of York, shortly before 1477).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born in or before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1980, p. 60, ill. p. 472 (as possibly Margaret of York, 1475-1500).
Muriel J. Hughes. "Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy: Diplomat, Patroness, Bibliophile, and Benefactress." Parts 1, 2. Private Library, ser. 3, 7 (1984): ill. p. 55 (as possibly Margaret of York).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 348, ill. (as possibly Margaret of York; French, 1475-1500).
Charles Sterling and Maryan Ainsworth in The Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings. New York, 1998, pp. 7-10, ill.
From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, p. 409, ill.