|Artist Unknown "Painter in Her Atelier" 1400s Spencer Collection|
The painting shows the artist Marcia at work in her atelier. It is usually described as Marcia painting a self-portrait, as you can see the small mirror affixed to the arch next to the easel. The artist has set the painting in his or her "contemporary" 15th century France, but Marcia was actually an artist from ancient Roman times. From the wikipedia entry:
Iaia of Cyzicus ("Marcia") was a Roman painter, alive during the time of Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC). She was a famous painter and ivory engraver. Most of her paintings are said to be of women. Among pictures ascribed to her was a large panel, in Naples, picture of an old woman and a self-portrait. She was said to have worked faster and painted better than her male competitors, Sopolis and Dionysius, which enabled her to earn more than them.