William Fiennes on The Cholmondeley Ladies (British School, c.1600 –1610): My ruff was a sort of amphitheatre of lace and bone that screened off large sectors of the world: I could only see what lay ahead, as if I were a language with no past or present tenses. The artist (I never learned his name) kept stepping away, frowning as he looked from me and my sister to his version of us on the wide board and back again, as if confused by the quantity of women in the room, our original doubling now redoubled in his painting. All this time my boy was quiet and still, even as I wished for him to shout or scream and so be the disruption of which I was myself no longer capable. I thought about the little gasp he’d given that morning when he saw our church’s spire narrowing above him into the blue, and of how, when they used both hands to pull the cords of my corset tighter, my maids were like mariners rigging a ship, hoisting the sails: it helped to think of some part of myself unfurling even as the servants hemmed me in. I’d noticed, as they arranged us against the pillows, her necklace, intricate with pendants, and been grateful for my simple carcanet of garnets and pearls. I felt the weight of my child in my hands and the cool lightness of metals and stones on my bare skin. I heard my sister breathing. We would wait a long time for men to give the word and release us to our separate chambers. — The Cholmondeley Ladies was presented anonymously in 1955 and is on display at Tate Britain. From the the Summer 2009 Microtate>>