LADY Anne Clifford’s back home where she belongs, so to speak, as a priceless portrait of her goes on display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery.

The work by William Larkin dated 1618 is regarded as the finest portrait of Lady Anne and is on loan to the Kendal arthouse from the National Portrait Gallery as part of its Coming Home project which has seen 50 portraits of iconic individuals from its national collection head to towns and cities most closely associated with their subjects.

Born in 1590, Lady Anne was 15 when her father George Clifford died. The Clifford family owned vast estates, including five castles: Appleby, Brough, Brougham, and Pendragon in Westmorland and Skipton Castle in Yorkshire. However, George left the lands and titles to his brother Francis Clifford, leaving Anne just £15,000 in compensation. This was a direct breach of an entail which stated that the Clifford estates should descend lineally to the eldest heir, whether male or female. Lady Anne fought hard for more than four decades for her rightful inheritance.

Helen Watson, Lakeland Arts’ director of programming, said that not only was the portrait by William Larkin one of the most accomplished portrait painters of the period, but it also had a magnificent story attached to it: “Lady Anne Clifford was an incredibly strong woman who came up against every obstacle, including King James. She finally came into her inheritance in her 50s, but only after spending most of her life fighting for what was rightfully hers. This is an important portrait of a key figure in Cumbrian history. We are delighted to show it at Abbot Hall.”

The painting of Anne is paired with another William Larkin portrait but there is some mystery surrounding the identity of the sitter. The subject of Larkin’s Portrait of a Young Woman is said to be that of Anne Clifford but that train of thought is open to debate.

Helen Watson added: “The painting was originally believed to be that of Lady Anne’s mother - Lady Russell, Countess of Cumberland. But some scholars believe it is Lady Anne herself. We are letting visitors see both paintings and decide for themselves.”

The stunning 400-year-old portrait of Lady Anne will be on show until June 22.

The National Portrait Gallery has been collecting portraits of men and women who have made a significant contribution to British life and history since 1856.