This portrait depicts Cornelia Burch a two-month-old baby girl and was painted in 1581 by an unknown artist of the Dutch School. The child’s immobile posture in her swaddling clothes is immediately striking.

Cornelia Burch, Aged Two Months

Cornelia Burch, Aged Two Months 1581

Dutch School

Ferens Art Gallery

It represents a rare survival of infant portraiture from the Tudor period. Infant mortality rates were high and it would have been expensive to commission an artist to depict such a young child. Clearly the Burch family was prosperous. This is also evident from the clothes the child is wearing, her swaddling bands seem to be made up of silk and not the common linen, her bodice is of velvet and in her right hand she is holding a gold rattle. In addition, the cradle in which the baby lies is sumptuously carved.

The fact that the child's name and her age are inscribed in the top right corner of the painting may suggest that it was created to mark her christening.

Sonia Roe, Freelance Editorial Consultant