This may be Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. Or maybe not. But it has long been assumed that this is the fine lady who came to a bad end but sprung from noble beginnings.
You may have heard of her father’s brothers, Edward IV and Richard III. Lady Margaret was a Plantagenet through and through, so it is easy to make the connection between her and the sitter of this painting, with her aquiline nose and long, slender face. The ermine trim of her clothing is a nod to her high standing; another hint that this could be Ms. Pole.
A tiny barrel hangs from her right wrist; perhaps to denote the rumor that Margaret’s father (George, Duke of Clarence) was drowned in a barrel of wine? She holds a sprig of honeysuckle, a symbol of love and faithfulness –her dear friend and fellow Catholic cheerleader Cat of Aragon would agree.
And what of the large gold “W” that swings from her fingers? Margaret’s younger brother Edward was the Earl of Warwick. With a stroke of the axe on his neck, the male line of the House of Plantagenet went kaput. But if the symbol in the painting really does stand for him, then perhaps it was a way for his sister to carry on his memory and that of their glorious dynasty.