Rubens seldom painted portraits-but here he made an exception. Aletheia Talbot married the influential English diplomat and art collector Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel. Like a princess surrounded by her entourage, she is seated on a terrace with a number of monumental columns behind her. Both the dog and the falcon are references to hunting-a privilege reserved for the nobility. In 1620, while the countess was on a brief stay in Antwerp, Rubens sketched the sitters' faces and recorded their posture in several drawings on which he also noted down the colours of the robes.