The Ketteringham Hall Portrait

Previously Called Lady Jane Grey
Watercolour on Ivory
45mm

On 25th April 1912, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh visited Ketteringham Hall in Norfolk.  Singh visited a large number of properties across Norfolk where he documented the art collections seen and published a book in 1927 detailing his findings.  In the book, entitled Portraits in Norfolk Houses, Singh recorded a portrait thought in 1912 to represent Lady Jane Grey.

Ketteringham Hall was built in the fifteenth century and was home to Henry Grey of Ketteringham.  By 1492 the property had passed to the Heveningham family. It was purchased in the nineteenth century by John Peter Boileau, archaeologist, Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries, London, and collector of antiquaries.  The hall was dramatically remodelled during the nineteenth century when it was purchased by Boileau to house his vast collection of antiques and collectables.

In the past and today, Ketteringham Hall has laid claim that it was once the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey, and it is only fitting that it should have housed a portrait of her.  As discussed above, the house was no longer in ownership of the Grey family during the sixteenth century, and there is no documented evidence to state that Jane Grey ever visited the property.[1]   

At the time Prince Frederick Duleep Singh visited the property, it had passed by descent to Sir Maurice Colborne Boileau, grandson of John Peter Boileau. The Hall would eventually be used as an active US Air Force base, and by 1948 the family opted to sell Ketteringham off, when it was then purchased by the Duke of Westminster.

Singh provides a detailed description in his book of the portrait thought to depict Lady Jane Grey seen in 1912.  The entry reads as follows.  

Lady Jane Dudley, H(ead) and S(houlders). Body, face and blue eyes all turned towards the sinister (viewers left), fair hair parted and flat, roll over each ear, and small row of rolls over the head, black cap on the head falling at one side and behind. Dress: black with white fur round the neck and down the front, also on each side of the arms. Blue background, min(iature) square. Age 18.[2]

No other information concerning this portrait has surfaced, and it appears never to have been exhibited as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey.  The painting was initially thought to be lost due to the contents of Ketteringham Hall being sold off over the years at auction.

During his own research into the many portraits thought to depict Lady Jane Grey, John Stephan Edwards was the first to acknowledge and create awareness of the Ketteringham Hall portrait in modern times.  He briefly discussed it in the appendix of his book concerning lost portraits once thought to be Jane Grey.  Edwards compared Singh’s description of the painting to a portrait also thought to depict Lady Jane Grey at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. He expressed uncertainty as to whether the portrait was still at Ketteringham Hall today.[3]  

Further research into the Ketteringham Hall portrait completed by myself suggests that it was actually sold in 1947. By this point the portrait had lost its identity and no connection was made at that time that the portrait was ever thought to depict lady Jane Grey.

In 1947, a large four-day auction took place of the contents of Ketteringham Hall. It is highly likely that the portrait once seen by Singh and given a detailed description in his book as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey was sold on the first day of sale as part of one lot containing three items.

Lot 357. Miniature, Lady with a white lace collar, ditto fur collar and silhouette.[4]

It appears that this lot was purchased, along with several other lots from the 1947, sale by Rev William Hall and his son Bryan Hall.  Both father and son were avid collectors of antiques and frequent visitors to sales of county house collections.  Bryan Hall would eventually acquire a large collection of more than 2,200 antiques during his lifetime and all where held within his home of Banningham old Rectory, which on occasions he would open for public viewing.

The miniature portrait remained in Hall’s collection until 2004. By this point, the elderly Bryan Hall put his entire collection up for auction, facilitated by Bonham’s Auctioneers.  This consisted of a three-day sale of the contents of Banningham Old Rectory.  The Ketteringham Hall portrait, along with another miniature close in comparison to the 1947 catalogue description of ‘a woman in a lace collar, and a large quantity of silhouettes were sold during this sale.  The provenance for these items could be traced back to Ketteringham Hall.[5]   Lot 89 of the Bonham’s sale is of particular interest when looking at the lost Ketteringham Hall portrait of Lady Jane Grey.  It is referred to in the catalogue as

Lot 89. Bernard Lens III (1750/6-1808), A portrait of a lady dressed as Mary Queen of Scots, in black dress slashed to reveal white fur, pearl necklace and black cap Water colour on ivory rectangular 45mm, in a gilded wood frame.[6]

Though the provenance for lot 89 was not fully documented in the auction catalogue, Singh’s description was included in the literature accompanying the lot.  The auction house commented that this portrait does not conform to other known portraits of Lady Jane Grey and lists the sitter’s identity as Mary Queen of Scots.

When comparing Singh’s description to the photograph of lot 89, there does appear to be a match. If this picture is the lost Ketteringham Hall portrait, then this brings about the question as to why an eighteenth-century portrait of Mary Queen of Scots became known as Lady Jane Grey by 1912.

NPG764
Previously Called Lady Jane Grey
Oil on Panel
(c)NPG

One possible reason for this is the purchase of NPG764 by the National Portrait Gallery, London.  By 1912, this was being exhibited as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey, and this does share some similarities in style and composition to the Ketteringham Hall portrait.   It may just be possible that the Boileau family or Singh himself concluded that, due to the similarities, the portrait at Ketteringham Hall must also depict Lady Jane Grey. During the early 20th century, several books were written and published concerning the iconography of Mary Queen of Scots, including one written by Lionel Cust, who briefly discussed the similarities in costume between both images.[7]

The portrait on which the Ketteringham Hall image is based was widely copied during the eighteenth century as an image of Mary and would generally be referred to as the Okney type by art historians.  It appears that the copy produced by Bernard Lens in vast quantities was based on a sixteenth century miniature portrait once in the collection of the Duke of Hamilton prior to 1710. 

George Vertue discussed this in his notebooks, having seen the original miniature in person.       

“This duke of Hamilton that lived at the manor house at East Acton had great collections of Indian work and china and many curious limning portraits some of them excellent and rare in number about fifty or sixty… so many as was exposed to sale in 1745.  No. 28 Mary Qu. Scots, this is the original limning which the Duke of Hamilton had recovered and valued most extremely – showed it at court and everywhere for a true genuine picture of the queen everywhere from thence it was copied in water colours enamel many and many times for all persons pining after it thousands of illuminated  copies – spread everywhere – this picture itself – tho amended by or repaired by L. Crosse who was ordered to make it as beautiful as he could – by the duke.  Still is a roundish face not agreeable to those most certain pictures of her – but his attestation of its being genuine, later part of Qu. Anns time it took and prest upon the public in such an extraordinary manner”[8]

The fact that Vertue himself expressed doubt in the eighteenth century as to whether the original miniature portrait was a representation of Mary Queen of Scots is interesting and today doubt as to the true identity of the sitter continues.  

Called Mary Neville, Lady Dacre
Watercolour on Vellum
Size Unknown

The above image was sold through Phillips Auctions of London, on 10th November 1998 and was associated with the court painter Levina Teerlinc.  Painted on vellum and applied to card, a faint description on the back was recorded in the auction catalogue identifying the sitter as “Queen Mary”.  The painting was officially sold as a portrait believed to be that of Mary Neville, Lady Dacre, with the auction house noting similarities to other known portraits of this sitter.

The provenance for this miniature is recorded as being in the collection of the Duke of Buckingham at Stowe house.  It appears in the 1849 sales catalogue were it was again described as a portrait of “Mary Tudor, Queen of England”[9].  The portrait was then purchased by John Webb who was a prominent collector of antiques in the mid nineteenthcentury and on his death in 1880, it then passed to his daughter Edith Webb and was eventually sold at Christie’s Auction, London, on the 24th June 1925.

When looking at this miniature it does appear to be too much of a coincidence to suggest that the similarities to the Okney Type is purely chance.  The similarities between this portrait and early copies made by Bernard Lens are exceedingly close, though Lens’s later copy has been altered to portray a younger and thinner sitter and some slight differences are seen with the gold coif worn under the hood.  Due to the similarities seen it is my opinion that this may just be the original miniature owned by the Duke of Hamilton and reported by George Vertue to have sold in 1745. 

The fact that the Teerlinc miniature also includes an early inscription identifying the sitter as “Queen Mary” does give this opinion some back up.  It may just be possible that the identification as to which Mary it was meant to represent may have just got lost during its history.  What is for certain is that the Teerlinc miniature neither represents Mary Tudor or Mary Queen of Scots and the similarities to portraits of Mary Neville as discussed in the auction catalogue is striking.

The ketteringham Hall portrait most certainly was created during the eighteenth century and therefore cannot be a portrait of Lady Jane Grey painted from life.  The portrait was originally painted as an image of Mary Queen of Scots that was mislabelled by 1912 when seen by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh.  This can now be removed from any list of potential likenesses of Lady Jane Grey.


[1] https://www.bidwells.co.uk/assets/properties/commercial/pdfs/256-786-1.pdf accessed July 2019

[2] Singh. Prince Frederick Duleep, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, Jarrold and Sons, Ltd, Vol I, Page 361

[3]Edwards. John Stephan, A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey, Old John Publishing, 2015, page 189. Electronic communication, David Adams, Property Manager suggest that no portrait matching Singh’s description is currently in the collection at Ketteringham Hall today.

[4] K.H Fielding Auctioneer. Ketteringham Hall, Norwich. Catalogue of Antique Furniture Old Silver, Glass, oil Paintings and other Effects, 22nd July 1947, Page 9.  My sincere thanks to Mary Parker for the assistance with the location of a copy of this catalogue and information regarding the Ketteringham sale.

[5] https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/11166/ accessed July 2019. A total of twenty-four items sold in the 2004 sale were provenance could be connected to Ketteringham Hall and the Boileau Family including https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/11166/lot/90/ which could be identified as “miniature, Lady with a lace collar” seen in the 1947  auction catalogue.

[6] Bonham’s auction catalogue, Bannigham Old Rectory, 22nd March 2004 

[7] Cust. Lionel. Notes on Authentic Portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, 1903, page 137

[8] Cust. Lionel. Notes on authentic portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, 1903, page 137

[9] Collection of the Duke of Buckingham  and Chandos, Stowe House, Christie’s sale, 15th March 1849, Lot 4.

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