photo credit: Erewash Borough Council
This sitter looks a bit like Helena Fourment, the wife of Rubens. I'm pretty sure it isn't, but surely this alludes to it being a seventeenth-century portrait by a Dutch/Flemish painter probably working in England?
The collection say that, as far as they know, the painting is English School, specifically after Peter Lely.
Stylistically this has specifically much in common with the portraits by Govaert Flinck. See the attached examples. Pose and the type of outdoor setting are very generic but the pleating of the fancy dress is rather similar. The question is, is the quality good enough for Flinck? Tom van der Molen, a curator at the Amsterdam Museum is working on a Flinck monograph. Best to get in touch with him and send him a good quality photo.
For some reason it looks French to me. But I have no evidence to back that up!
Ask Karen Hearn?
On the basis of this digital image, this definitely does not look like an English 17th century portrait to me. Nor does it look at all like a work by Lely. Is there anyone with Scandinavian expertise out there who might have a view?
I just don't think it can possibly be English, and I feel this artist could be identified - I've thought Maes, Lievens etc and there are splatterings of their flavour, but definitely something else entirely: Scandinavian is an interesting suggestion. I wonder whether the collection could provide any more detailed photographs - particularly of the architecture in the background?
I am no architectural historian, but a quick investigation of classical building styles in Europe suggests that the Netherlands (and of course England, amongst other countries) is much more likely than Sweden for a classical building like that in the C17th (assuming it shows a real building). I agree with Tim that a clearer image of it would be most helpful.
Scandinavia, good thought. Since there might be Flinck influence, but it doesn't look Dutch to me and apparently not English to you over there. The kerchief (or how do you call it) reminds me of Gdansk painter Daniel Schultz's portret of Konstancji von Holten Schuman. (Dutch orientated architecture in Sweden is no problem).
At first glance this does noet seem to be by Flinck to me. The handling is too dry and stiff. My first intuition was Ovens, and it is strengthened by the ideas of Scandinavian authorship that other commenters have. I would love a better photo for some detailed comparison though :-)
For Ovens, you should contact Patrick Larsen, who works at the RKD.
This discussion is now also linked to the Portraits: British 16th and 17th C group.
The portrait formed part of the Howitt bequest in 1918. I wonder if the collection has any further information on this benefactor (beyond just surname)? There could possibly be links to Continental Europe in earlier generations of his or her family, which might help to narrow the search for an artist.
Almost ninety paintings were bequeathed by Charles Sydney Howitt in 1918 to the city council, most of which were English works. Although Charles Sydney Howitt left a life interest in the paintings to his wife, she relinquished that in 1921-22, and gave them to Erewash Museum. It is thought that most of these paintings were collected by surgeon Enoch Dawson Howitt, the donor's father, though some may have been purchased by William Howitt (d.1840), his grandfather.
The rose offers an interesting possibility-- it appears to be a "cabbage" or centifolia type, given the bulbous appearance. This type of rose was characteristic of Dutch and Flemish still-life painting (as in the works of Nicolaes van Verendael (file below, labeled VA_PC...). Similar roses appear in this earlier portrait of a boy (https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/flemish-portrait-of-a-boy-holding-a-rose), as well as this contemporaneous portrait of a young woman (http://www.artnet.com/artists/flemish-school-1718/portrait-of-a-young-woman-holding-a-rose-8JpX48S9Dfed-HcGjrH5ig2)
Other contemporaneous English-attributed portraits featuring roses (files labeled NY_YAG, SFK_CCM, WAR_SBT) have a subtly different treatment-- the flowers have a flatter appearance, closer to a gallica rose type.
Of course, this may be a case of an English artist looking elsewhere for precedent. But the rose type may suggest a Dutch or Flemish painter, or at least an English follower of the Dutch/Flemish school.
An interesting approach, Ms Drago - certainly the rose is of the 'cabbage' type beloved of C17th Low Countries artists. The first problem with your analysis, though, is that the English-attributed works you show us are much later - well into the C18th, in some cases perhaps as much as 100 years after ours. For a meaningful comparison we should really be looking at English (and Swedish, etc) rose depictions of, say, the 1640s-60s. Even then it may tell us little, as so many artists working all over Europe then were Dutch/Flemish - and those that weren't, heavily influenced by those who were (as you intimate).
"For a meaningful comparison we should really be looking at English (and Swedish, etc) rose depictions of, say, the 1640s-60s."
Here's one from the '70's, including a cabbage rose: