The painting depicts Lucretia as a half-length seated figure. Her head is inclined to the left, whereas her body is turned slightly to the right and she stares into the far distance. She holds a long dagger in her right hand pointed up against her breast. Her left hand rests on her lap. Lucretia wears a greenish coloured fur-trimmed overcoat on her shoulders, beneath which a contemporary undergarment with puffed sleeves is visible and her breasts are revealed.
Her blond hair is pinned up, but some curls have fallen down. She wears a simple neckband with a pendant and a leather band around her neck.
In the background the folds of a curtain are indicated. This opens on the right to reveal a view of a landscape with a castle.
According to the legend Lucretia lived in the 6th century BC and was the beautiful and virtuous wife of the roman Collatinus. The roman King's son - Sextus Tarquinius fell in love with her. During a stay in her house Sextus threatened to kill her and shame her honour if she did not surrender to him. After the rape Lucretia had her father and husband vow vengeance and then she stabbed herself. The event led to an uprising in which the royal family was overthrown and the Roman Empire became a Republic.
Depictions of Lucretia who was seen as the epitomy of female virtue, chastity, fidelity and honour enjoyed great popularity, particularly in the 16th century.
[Literature: Bierende 2002, Follak 2002, Livius 1909]