The Brocklebank/Taylor Portrait

During a recent visit to the Heinz Archive in London, I came across a collection of letters written in 1917 concerning a portrait of Lady Jane Grey.  All three letters were addressed to James Milner, the then director of the National Portrait Gallery and were written by a R. Brocklebank of Houghton Hall in Cheshire. 

Upon locating these I instantly thought, “great, I have another new portrait search to get my teeth into.”  Sadly, it turns out that the actual painting was sitting right under my nose all the time, and all I had discovered was some new provenance information regarding a portrait already known to us.

R. Brocklebank, or Ralph Brocklebank as he is better known, was a wealthy shipowner and art collector who purchased Houghton Hall in the nineteenth century and had it rebuilt between 1891 and 1894 to house his valuable collection of art.  In his first letter written on 27th July 1917, Brocklebank reports ownership of a portrait thought to depict Lady Jane Grey and suggests that he would like to leave it on his death to the gallery.  He reports that he purchased the painting from a picture shop on Bond Street in 1892 and requests a meeting during his next visit to London so the gallery could view the portrait themselves.  Brocklebank also informs the gallery that his portrait is oil on panel, measuring 10 x 7 ¾ inches, and is thought to be by the school of Clouet.  A photograph of the actual painting is also supplied with the letter, but this was no longer stored with the documents in the archive.[1]

Fortunately, Ralph Brocklebank had a book published in 1904 documenting his collection of over 150 paintings and engravings held at Houghton Hall.  Within this book is a portrait referred to as representing Lady Jane Grey by the school of Clouet.  Item number 39 is discussed and a detailed description of the painting is also given. 

Portrait of Lady Jane Grey

School of Clouet

Portrait (bust) of Lady Jane Grey, with face turned to the right.  She is handsomely attired in the fashionable costume of the period. A high, close-fitting ruff reaches to her ears, entirely concealing her neck.  Her hair is pulled back from her forehead, and covered by a jewelled net.  The collar of her elaborately braided doublet reaches as high as the ruff, and spreads out on either side, showing a gold collar, heavily gemmed, from which a large jewelled pendant hangs on her breast.  A portrait in The National Portrait Gallery, by Lucas de Heere (No. 764) confirms the truth of this likeness.[2]

It appears that the portrait remained in Broclebank’s collection until his death in 1921.  No documentation has been located within The National Portrait Galleries archives to identify that his portrait was left to the gallery upon his death, as suggested in his first letter, and it may be possible that upon viewing the actual portrait it was decided that it was not something the gallery wanted in their collection.  The portrait again appears in 1922 in the Christie’s auction catalouge for the sale of Ralph Brocklebank’s collection, but rather than  being described as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey as seen in the earlier book, it is referred to as a portrait of a lady said to represent Lady Jane Grey.  This suggests that the gallery may have informed Brocklebank that the painting may not represent Lady Jane Grey in the first place.  

Portrait of a Lady

(Said to represent Lady Jane Grey)

In white dress, with high collar and linen ruff, richly jewelled necklace and head-dress

On panel – 10 in. by 7 ½ [3]

On completion of the sale, the portrait was purchased by a E. Brock for the sum of £28.8 shillings and thus, I thought the trail ran dry. 

When discussing the various portraits associated with Jane Grey, one of my main goals is to locate an image of the portrait so that the painting can actually be seen by the person reading this article.  Unfortunately, in some cases a photographic image may not have been taken or, as with the Brocklebank portrait, the image may have been lost during the passage of time.  Many thousands of photographs of portraits are held within the various boxes at the Heinz archive, and it would literally be like attempting to find a needle in a haystack when looking for the missing Brocklebank photograph.  In all honesty I had come to terms with just adding this particular portrait to the Auction/collections page on this website.  I did, however, manage to find the photograph, and as discussed above it had been sitting under my nose all the time.

After reading Carter’s 1904 description and attempting a frantic internet search in the hope of a portrait matching this, it suddenly came to mind that I had seen this painting before.  It is discussed in Stephan Edward’s book A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey as the Taylor portrait.  Edwards concludes that this image is unfortunately not a portrait of Lady Jane Grey, but a portrait probably of Elizabeth of Austria and that the provenance discussed in the 1998 sales catalouge for this painting contributed nothing useful.[4]  As  Edwards reports, this portrait was sold by Christie’s, London on 12th November 1998 and was described in the catalouge as a portrait of a Lady, previously identified as Lady Jane Grey.  The catalouge also records that the portrait was once in the collection of A.M and B Taylor, but nothing more is mentioned regarding the provenance for this image during the sale.[5]

The Taylor Portrait
Called Lady Jane Grey, Perhaps Elizabeth of Austria
Oil on Wood Panel
10 x 8 inches
© Private Collection

Upon accessing my own file on the Taylor Portrait, I came across a photocopy of an old image of the portrait located in the artist box for Francios Clouet at Heinz Archive.  Over the years, the gallery have used the back of this image to scribble various notes regarding the portrait in pencil and seen in the centre of this is writing made in ink identifying the sitter as supposed to be Lady Jane Grey, written in the same handwriting as the letter from Ralph Brocklebank.

It appears that this is the lost photograph which accompanied the Brocklebank letters sent to James Milner in 1917 and though most definitely not a portrait of Lady Jane Grey these letters do provide more provenance for this painting and its one time association with her.  


[1] Heinz Archive, NPG 104/8/2, Correspondence Received 1917, accessed July 2019

[2] Carter. R. Radcliffe, Pictures & Engravings at Houghton Hall Tarporley in The Possession of Ralph Brocklebank, 1904, Item 39.  My sincere thanks to the staff at the library of the University of Dundee for assisting me with gaining access to this book.

[3] Christies Auction Catalouge, 7th July 1922, lot 80.  My sincere thanks to Simona Dolari of Christie’s auction house for providing me with the information regarding this sale.

[4] Edwards. John Stephan, A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey, Old John Publishing, 2015, page 99

[5] Christie’s Auction Catalouge, 12th November 1998, lot 4

The Beaufort Miniature Portrait

The Beaufort Miniature
Called Lady Jane Grey
Watercolour on vellum applied to card
(c) Private Collection

Sold at Sotheby’s auction house, London, on 13th September 1983 as lot 90, The Beaufort Miniature is one of the more recent paintings to be sold with the sitter tentatively suggested to be Lady Jane Grey.  The painting is associated with the artist Levina Teerlinc and is painted on vellum. The Sotheby’s sale included a second miniature attributed to the same artist, and both were formerly held in the collection of Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort.

Before we study this miniature portrait in detail, we must first examine the artist associated with it and determine whether Levina Teerlinc would have had access to paint Lady Jane Grey.  Born around 1510, Teerlinc was the daughter of the famous Flemish illustrator Simon Benninck, and it is highly likely that she was taught to paint by her father.  By 1546, she was married, working, and living in England.  Teerlinc was granted a salary of forty pounds a year by Henry VIII, and she is documented as having worked for the English crown until her death in 1576.[1]  Teerlinc is a bit of an enigma.  Artists of the sixteenth century, even those with a large surviving output, are ordinarily not well documented today. But the reverse is true of Teerlinc. The State Papers of four separate Tudor monarchs include specific mention of her, yet no portrait reliably attributable to her is known to have survived today.[2]

In July 1983, a small number of miniature portraits were grouped together for the first time and exhibited as part of the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. All were painted between 1546-1576, or during the period between the deaths of both Hans Holbein and Lucas Hornebolte in the 1540’s and the rise of Nicolas Hillard in the 1570’s.  All of the images were thought in 1983 to have been produced by Levina Teerlinc, though there is no surviving evidence to prove that assertion conclusively. [3] All of the miniatures do show some similarities in draughtsmanship.  The sitters do all have rather large heads and stick-like arms, and some similarities in the brushwork were also noted, including the use of loose wash work to create the features.  Since the completion of the exhibition, a number of other miniature portraits showing the same compositional mannerisms, including the Beaufort Miniature, have been sold at auction and have also been associated with Teerlinc.

Lady Katherine Grey
Watercolour on vellum applied to card
(c) Victoria and Albert Museum

Among the group of miniatures exhibited in the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered Exhibition and associated with Teerlinc is a portrait now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Purchased by the museum in June 1979, it is called Lady Katherine Grey due to an early inscription on the back that reads “The La Kathn Graye/wyfe of th’ Erle of/ Hertford”.  If the identity of the sitter and artist associated with this painting is correct, then Teerlinc most certainly had access to Jane’s sister. Teerlinc is also documented as producing several images of Elizabeth, including receiving payment in 1551 for a portrait of her as princess.  Susan James has also suggested that Teerlinc painted Catherine Parr, which suggests that Teerlinc came into contact with people that Jane would have known personally.  There is the slight possibility that she might have come into contact with Jane herself.[4]

The Beaufort Miniature depicts a young lady, seen to below the waist and facing the viewer’s left. Both hands are depicted in front, and she is holding a pair of gloves in her right hand, which has a ring on the fourth finger.  On her head, she wears a French hood with both upper and lower billaments made up of goldsmith work and pearls. A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back.  A black loose gown with a fur collar and fitted mutton leg sleeves is worn by the sitter. At her neck she wears a small ruff edged with gold thread. The sitter is depicted on a blue background with a gold border.

Unknown Lady
Called Lady Frances Grey
Watercolour on vellum
(c)Victoria and Albert Museum

As discussed above, the miniature had previously been in the collection of Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort.[5]  In the auction catalogue at the time of the sale, the lot was officially titled “An Important Married Lady at The Tudor Court.” The suggestion that the sitter could possibly be Lady Jane Grey was made within the description that accompanied the lot.  The catalogue reported similarities in the facial features of the sitter depicted in the Beaufort Miniature and the miniature portrait of Lady Katherine Grey at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It then went on to suggest Lady Jane Grey is the sitter and that the image was “taken shortly before her death in 1554”.  The catalogue did rightfully record that there is no proof to back up this theory.  A second miniature also associated with Teerlinc and sold during the same auction was similarly suggested to depict Jane Grey’s mother, Lady Frances Brandon. [6]  When looking at the Beaufort miniature and the other thought to depict Lady Katherine Grey side by side, there does appear to be some similarities in the faces, but this cannot be used today as the sole reason to identify a sitter within a painting.  There are other clues in the painting that give us some indication that the sitter is not, in fact, Lady Jane Grey.

The ruff seen in the painting appears to be the only major datable aspect. The ruff was an essential part of the Tudor wardrobe by the mid sixteenth and early seventeenth century and was worn across Europe in a variety of styles.  In the case of the Beaufort Miniature, we see an example from the early stages of the evolution of the ruffs.  It appears to be attached to the sitter’s partlet rather than worn as a separate item that was starched and fixed in place, as was seen in later periods.

Called Catherine Howard (Detail)
Hans Holbein
(c) The Royal Collection

To trace the evolution of the ruff worn in Britain, we must first look at the fashion worn by ladies during the 1540’s.  It was during this period that it became more favourable for ladies to cover the chest rather than the previous fashion of the chest being revealed by the low-cut French gowns.  As seen in a portrait thought to depict Katherine Howard and now in the Royal Collection.  This was achieved with the use of a partlet.  Worn beneath the bodice and tied under the arms this would have been made from a fine fabric.

By the end of the 1540’s and early 1550’s, ladies continued to wear the partlet, however, this had developed slightly.  Surviving portraits from this period show that the partlet continued to be constructed from a fine fabric similar to what would have been used to create the chemise, though this had been fitted with a neck band to create a small frill or collar. The addition of a second partlet known as an outer partlet made with a v-shaped collar of a contrasting fabric to the outer gown could also be worn over this.

By the mid 1550’s, the small frill seen at the neck had again grown in size and had begun to surround the face, similar in style to what is seen in the Beaufort Miniature.  This ruffle would eventually develop into the ruff seen in the later periods after the 1560’s and would eventually become a separated from the partlet altogether. [7]

When compared to portraits painted during the later half of the 1550’s, including one of an unknown lady in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum dating to 1555 and another of Mary Neville in the National Portrait Gallery dating to 1559 the Beaufort Miniature appears to sit in the middle with the ruffle looking as though it is still attached to a partlet as seen in the Fitzwilliam portrait and without the use of wire or starch to create the defined figure of eight shape seen in the portrait of Mary Neville.

Though arguably there are some similarities in the facial features of the Beaufort Miniature and the V&A miniature of Lady Katherine Grey, this could be attributed to the artist’s style rather than to family resemblance. It is my opinion that the sitter depicted in the Beaufort Miniature is wearing a ruffle that is slightly too late in period to have been worn by Lady Jane Grey. The miniature is unlikely to have been painted prior to 1554 as the catalogue suggests.  Though a beautiful little picture, there is no evidence to suggest that it was thought prior to the 1983 auction to be an image of Jane Grey. This can now be removed from the list of any likenesses thought to depict Lady Jane Grey. 


[1] Strong. Roy, The English Renaissance Miniature, Thames and Hudson, 1983, page 54

[2]  James. Susan, The Feminine Dynamic in English Art, 1485-1603, Women as Consumers, Patrons and Painter, Ashgate Publishing, 2009

[3] Strong. Roy, Artists of the Tudor Court, The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620, Thames and Hudson, 1983, page 52

[4] James. Susan, The Feminine Dynamic in English Art, 1485-1603, Women as Consumers, Patrons and Painter, Ashgate Publishing, 2009, page 27

[5] Artist file for Levina Teerlinc, Heinz Archive, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG50/21/250, accessed 2018.  It is not known exactly when the Duke acquired the miniature, but a photograph taken in 1983 lists the sitter as “Unknown Lady.” This suggests that the sitter was not thought to depict Jane Grey prior to the sale of that same year.

[6] Sotheby’s Auction Catalogue, 13th September 1983, page 31. Purchased by the Victorian and Albert Museum in 1983 this miniature is catalogued today as “unknown lady”

[7] For further information on the evolution of the ruff see Arnold. Janet, Pattern of Fashion 4, The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women c.1540-1660, Macmillan, 2008.

The Gibson Portrait

The Gibson Portrait
Size Unknown
Location Unknown

The information associated with many portraits thought to depict Lady Jane Grey is often fragmented. In the case of the Gibson portrait, only a letter and a photographic image submitted to The Connoisseur Magazine in 1911 exist to inform us that the sitter depicted was thought to be that of Lady Jane Grey.  This portrait has not yet been located and studied and I have been unable to locate any other information regarding the provenance of this painting. Neither has any information surfaced to show that this portrait was ever included in any public exhibition as a depiction of Lady Jane Grey.

Jane G. Gibson, the then owner of the portrait, submitted a request to the magazine’s readers for further information regarding the identity of the sitter and artist associated with this painting.  No published replies to her request have been located, which suggests that unfortunately Gibson did not get the information she was looking for. 

Within her letter, Gibson reported that a scrap of paper was attached to the back of the painting identifying the sitter as “Jana Graia Holbein pinxit”.  She also noted that the painting was examined by Sir George Scharf, Director of The National Portrait Gallery, London, who, she explains “thought it to be a genuine portrait, by the School of Clouet.”  Gibson does not, however, recall any thoughts Scharf had regarding the identity of the sitter.  She appears to dismiss the identification of the sitter as Lady Jane Grey, reporting that the scrap of paper is a “manifest forgery” and noting that “Jane Grey was a mere child at the time of Holbein’s death”.  Gibson also dismisses Scharf’s opinion that the painting is associated with the school of Clouet noting that the work “resembles other painting’s produced by Holbein”.  She is correct when expressing doubt over the identification of the sitter, though the portrait’s association with Hans Holbein is also dubious[1].

A large number of portraits held in private collections or sold at auction were associated with Hans Holbein during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  That included a small number of portraits thought at the time to depict Lady Jane Grey.  Paintings sold between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries where simply grouped and associated with the most famous artists working within the sixteenth century.  Little evidence to support the associations were given by the auction houses, and access to information and research into lesser known artists was limited.  A search of the Getty Provenance Database shows that a total of 1563 paintings associated with Holbein and sold at auction between the years of 1800- 1900. It is highly unlikely that Holbein would have had the time to paint 1563 portraits during his lifetime, and therefore not all could have been painted by his hand alone.  It is more probable that a number of the images sold between 1800-1900 were associated with him due to the fame attached to his name, some similarities in style or as a way of adding value to the paintings[2].

As stated above, Gibson is right when noting that the sitter seen in the portrait is too old to be a depiction of Lady Jane Grey, though this does not dismiss the fact that Holbein could have possibly painted a portrait of her.   Holbein did have access to and created a number of images of Jane’s family members including Margaret Wotton, Elizabeth Grey, Eleanor Brandon, and Charles and Henry Brandon.  This does suggest that he could have possibly had access to Jane Grey as well, though the likelihood of a portrait surfacing of Jane by Holbein today very slim.  Holbein died in 1543, and if a portrait was ever to surface painted by him then it most definitely would have to depict a small child rather than the fully developed lady seen in the Gibson portrait.      

Though the quality of the early photographic image submitted is poor and some of the finer details are lost, the costume worn by the sitter does give us some clues as to the period in which the portrait was created.  We can see from the image is that the portrait depicts a young female, painted to below the waist and facing the viewer’s left.  Both hands are depicted in front, and four rings can be seen on her fingers.  The sitter also holds what appears to be a flower in her right hand.  On her head she wears an early example of the French Hood, and her gown has a square cut neckline with large bell-shaped sleeves and fitted false undersleeves.  Two necklaces of goldsmith work are worn around the neck, and a circular brooch is pinned to the front of the kirtle and tucked into the bodice of the outer gown.

The exact date on which the French Hood was first worn in England is unknown, however, it is traditionally thought that this originates with Mary Rose Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, returning from France after the death of her husband in 1515[3].  The hood originated in France and was worn towards the end of the fifteenth century.  Prior to its arrival in England, ladies wore the traditional Gable Hood seen in the many paintings of Elizabeth of York and Katherine of Aragon.  The French Hood became more popular in England when King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, who was also noted to have spent a period of time in France[4].  It would eventually overtake the Gable Hood in popularity and was worn as a popular item until the end of the sixteenth century.  Slight changes in its appearance and construction occurred during its popularity that can help us to identify a possible narrow period in which a portrait was painted.

The hood worn by the sitter in the Gibson portrait has elongated side panels stretching to just beyond the jaw-line and is similar in style to the image seen above left.  This portrait of Isabella of Austria painted around 1515 shows the French hood in its early stages of development and around the time the hood is thought to have been introduced to England.  By the 1530’s, the front shape of the hood changed slightly, and the side panels became shorter in appearance, ending just below the ear.  Upper and lower billaments were also used to add decoration.  This can be seen in the famous image of Anne Boleyn above middle. By the 1540’s, the side panels of the hood were more concaved in appearance rather than the longer version seen in the Gibson Portrait which shows us that the sitter in the Gibson Portrait is wearing a hood that was still in its early stages of development when the portrait was painted. 

Though it cannot be known for certain until the portrait is located and studied further, the style of costume worn by the sitter is more consistent with that worn during the early part of the sixteenth century, prior to the 1530’s.  If the portrait is English, then it most certainly cannot be a depiction of Lady Jane Grey, as the costume seen is not something that would have been worn by her during her lifetime. The Gibson portrait can now be removed from any list of potential likenesses thought to depict Lady Jane Grey.


[1] The Connoisseur Magazine, vol XXXI, September-December 1911, page 250

[2] http://piprod.getty.edu/starweb/pi/servlet.starweb

[3] Lynn. Eleri, Tudor Fashion, Yale University Press, 2017, page 80

[4] Ives. Eric, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Blackwell Publishing, 2008, page 27

The Stowe House Portraits

During the early nineteenth century, a small number of portraits at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire were described as representing Lady Jane Grey.

Today, Stowe House is a Grade I listed building that is open to the public for tours and that also incorporates a private school.   It was the former home of the Temple-Grenville family and George Nugent Temple-Grenville, who was created the 1st Marquis of Buckingham in December of 1784.  The house passed through descent down the family line.  Various auctions of some of its contents took place due to financial issues, and the family eventually sold the property in 1921.

The Manuscript Room Miniature Portrait

Early in the nineteenth century houses across the country began to open their doors to visitors who were able to take a tour of the buildings for a small fee. A descriptive catalogue of Stowe House and Gardens was printed in 1817 and sold for the use of tourists.

Described in this catalogue and referred to as being displayed over the chimney in the Manuscript Room is a miniature portrait thought at that time to be a representation of Lady Jane Grey.  The Catalogue reports that the miniature, along with several other miniature portraits, including one thought to depict Jane Seymour and another of Thomas Seymour,

Came into the possession of Mrs. Grenville from the collection of her grandfather Charles, Duke of Somerset.[1]

The Mrs Grenville mentioned is Elizabeth Grenville (1717-1769), daughter of Sir William Wyndham and his first wife Lady Catherine Seymour.  Elizabeth married George Grenville (1712-1770) in 1749 and was mother to George Nugent-Temple Grenville 1st Marques of Buckingham. She had inherited a small amount of money from her grandfather Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and it is possible that she had also inherited the miniature portraits as well.

Called Lady Jane Grey by Robert Cooper
Taken From The Manuscript Room Miniature
(c)Heinz Archive London

No description of the miniature thought to depict Lady Jane Grey is given in the 1817 catalogue, but it was engraved by Robert Cooper (died 1828) in the early nineteenth century, along with the other two portraits thought to depict Jane and Thomas Seymour.  These engravings survive today, and inscribed on each engraving beneath the image is a statement that the originals are in the possession of the Marquis of Buckingham at Stowe.

What is clearly seen from this engraving is that the miniature portrait thought in 1817 to depict Jane Grey is based on the pattern used to create NPG4451, the Hastings portrait and the Jersey Portrait. The distinctive crown headed brooch is seen in the engraving of the Manuscript Room Miniature worn pinned to the front of the sitter’s bodice, and this brooch also appears in NPG4451, the Hastings portrait, the Jersey portrait and the Van de Passe Engraving.  The brooch was used in 1997 as the focus for the reidentification of NPG4451 as a portrait of Katherine Parr.  Today, all portraits relating to this pattern are now thought to be a depiction of Katherine Parr rather than Jane Grey, and therefore this rules out Jane Grey as the possible sitter in the Stowe House miniature portrait.    

It does appear that this miniature was sold on March 15th, 1849 as part of the large thirty-seven day auction of the contents of Stowe House facilitated by Messrs. Christies and Manson.  It appears in the original catalogue for this sale, under the miniatures section referring to Royal Personages.

Item 3. The Lady Jane Grey, in a crimson dress.[2]

An annotated copy of this catalogue in the collection of the Heinz Archive, London, records the buyer of the miniature as “Lagrange or La Grange.”[3]  I have been unable to locate any other information regarding the current whereabouts of this image.

The West Stairs Portrait

The second portrait to be discussed appears in the 1849 sales catalogue for the contents of Stowe House and is described as:

Item 372. A portrait called Lady Jane Grey[4]

This portrait was displayed on the west staircase and was documented in the sales catalogue as being purchased by a R. Berkeley, Esq, who also purchased several other paintings at this sale. As the portrait is documented as “called” Lady Jane Grey in the catalogue description, this suggests that some doubt was expressed in 1848 about the identity of the sitter.

Called Lady Jane Grey (c) British Museum

Robert Berkeley Esq (1794-1874) of Spetchley Park, near Worcester, was a descendant of an aristocratic family dating back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Berkeley family owned a large amount of land including Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, which still belongs to living descendants today.

An engraving dating to the nineteenth century that is now in the collection of the British Museum depicts a portrait of a lady wearing clothing that dates to a period much later than that of Jane Grey’s lifetime.  This engraving is inscribed at the bottom in pencil. The inscription identifies the sitter as “Lady Jane Grey/ The Marquis of Buckingham/ Private plate”.  The Engraving was bequeathed to the British Museum in 1868 from the collection of a Felix Slade (1788-1868), who is known to have been a keen collector, acquiring a large collection of books and prints during his lifetime.

Called Lady Jane Grey (c) Private Collection

Email communication with the Berkeley estate has confirmed that a portrait matching this engraving and thought to represent Lady Jane Grey is still in their collection today and appears for the first time in an inventory taken in 1893. 

What can be seen from the photographic image of this painting is that the lady depicted most definitely dates to a later period than that of Lady Jane Grey’s lifetime.  The costume the sitter is wearing is not consistent with the style worn in England during the period in which Jane Grey was alive.  The portrait dates to the 1650’s when the large ruffs worn across Europe during the earlier periods were being replaced with the plainer broad lace or linen collar. The elaborate French fashions worn previously during the reigns of James I and Charles I were by this later period becoming more sombre in style and colour.

This portrait also appears continental in style and is probably Dutch in origin. The west stair portrait is close in comparison to a number of portraits by Netherlandish artists such as Rembrandt van Rijh (1606-1669) depicting female sitters in the same manner and a similar style of costume. Though difficult to see in the photographic image, the hood worn by the sitter is similar in style to that seen in several portraits of Dutch origin dating to the middle of the seventeenth century.  Catrina Hooghsaet wears a similar hood without the attached vail in her portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1657. During the 1660’s, in England, Ladies began to embrace the fashion of wearing their hair curled and pinned up with the use of jewels as embellishment rather than wearing a hood that had been popular in the past.

How the West Stairs portrait became known as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey is unknown, and it is highly unlikely that this portrait was painted to represent Jane Grey in the first place. It is possible that her name was simply attached to the portrait due to the plainness of dress depicted or that the frame used for this portrait, which also includes the inscription identifying the sitter as Jane Grey, was simply reused from another portrait thought to represent her. It can now be removed from the list of potential likenesses as it dates to a period of some ninety years after her death and therefore cannot be an authentic likeness.

The East Hall Portrait

The third and final portrait to be discussed appears in the 1817 descriptive catalogue from Stowe House. This book records another portrait thought to be Jane Grey in the “passage of the east hall” at Stowe.  The portrait is simply referred to as:

Lady Jane Grey (original).[5]

No further description is given of the painting. Since some of the other portraits are explicitly described in the catalogue as “full length,” and this one is not, it does suggest the possibility that this painting was less than full length, perhaps three quarter, half, or bust length. The use of the term “original” also indicates that in 1817 this portrait was deemed to be old.

As yet, I have been unable to track the current whereabouts of this portrait.  I have been able to locate a further two references to a portrait of Lady Jane Grey in the collection of The Marquis of Buckingham that could possibly be this particular painting, however.  These do give us more details as to what the portrait actually looked like, and when investigated further, these also give us some indication as to whether or not this portrait was a painting of Lady Jane Grey.

The first reference appears in the appendix of Richard Davey’s 1909 biography on Jane Grey.  Davey describes an engraving of the portrait as:

Lady Jane Grey. From a portrait in the possession of the Marquis of Buckingham. She wears a velvet gown open at the throat to display a double chain with a pendant cross. On table, large gold chalice.[6]

Since this description is inconsistent with the West Stair portrait and Manuscript Room Miniature, also thought to be Jane Grey, it is possible that the source used by the unidentified engraver was the “original portrait in the passage of the east hall.”  The description given by Davey of the East Hall Portrait is of interest as he does give us a little more information as to what this image looked like.

Another clue appears in 1917, in a magazine article published in the Musical Courier, which discusses the discovery of the then lost Pryor’s Bank portrait thought to represent Lady Jane Grey.  The article reports:

A portrait somewhat similar, in which this same chalice figures, is in the collection of the Marques of Buckingham.[7]

From the above descriptions, we see that the East Hall Portrait was probably similar in look to the Pryor’s Bank portrait.  Since no image has as yet been located, I am unable to discuss the similarities in-depth.  However, what is seen from the descriptions is that both the Pryor’s Bank Portrait and the East Hall portrait included a depiction of a chalice within the composition.

It is possible that an authentic portrait of Jane Grey could have been painted that included the use of a chalice within the composition.  This does not, however, fit with the general style of other portraits produced of female figures painted during her lifetime.  A number of portraits from this period show that females where generally depicted by artists in front of a plain background or cloth.  This was done to enable the depiction of the sitter to be the most prominent part of the painting.  Latin inscriptions that identified the sitter age and date in which the portrait was painted were generally added by the artist, and in some cases a motto or coat of arms as well.  Some paintings do survive which also demonstrate that female sitters were also depicted within a domestic surrounding that included objects within the composition. These paintings including one of Princess Elizabeth, now in the Royal Collection, and another of Lady Mary Dacre.  They are rare and are not as common as those depicting a sitter in front of a plain background.

Since the description of the East Hall portrait mentions the use of the chalice, I personally err on the side of caution when looking at this information.  As discussed in previous articles, the iconography of Jane Grey is a difficult and complex subject due to the large number of portraits and the little information surviving about them.

It does appear that over the years several paintings once identified as being of Jane Grey have turned out to be representations of Mary Magdalene when studied further.  As discussed in my article on the Pryor’s Bank portrait, the use of the golden chalice in the iconography of Mary Magdalene was popular and was used along with other artefacts depicted in the paintings as a form of symbolism.  Mary Magdalene was commonly portrayed alone, in isolation reading, writing or playing the lute.  The chalice was commonly used to symbolise the jar of oil used to wash the feet of Jesus. The Symbolism used within depictions of the Magdalene is similar to the description given by Roger Ascham in his book The Schoolmaster of Jane sat alone at Bradgate reading Plato.  This description was commonly used during the nineteenth and twentieth century by authors and artists when discussing and depicting Jane to demonstrate that her love of learning had isolated her from her family, who Ascham notes were out hunting at the time of his visit.

Althorp Portrait Called Lady Jane Grey in 1817 Engraving appeared in Bibliographical Decameron by Thomas Frognall Dibdin

One possible reason for the number of portraits depicting the Magdalene being confused for that of Jane Grey is the publication in 1817 of the engraved image of a painting that is known today as the Althorp Portrait. That image appeared in a book entitled Bibliographical Decameron by Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847). That engraving was based on a portrait in the collection of Spencer family at Althorp house which at that time was thought to be of Lady Jane Grey. That portrait also incorporated the use of a golden chalice within the composition. Today, it is now thought that this painting is a depiction of Mary Magdalene. In 1817, Dibdin stated in the footnote of his book that,

This is the only legitimate portrait of Lady Jane Grey that has yet been made public[8]

This then allowed others who may have owned a similar portrait depicting a sixteenth century lady close to Jane’s age, reading and with a chalice, to then attach her name to their painting.    

Until the East Hall portrait is located, it cannot be known for certain whether It is a possible image of Lady Jane Grey or another portrait of Mary Magdalene that Jane’s name had been associated with.  

The Jersey Portrait

Stowe house had a fourth portrait in its collection that in time was to become associated with Lady Jane Grey. It is known today as the Jersey portrait.

The Jersey Portrait
Katherine Parr
(c) The Earldom of Jersey Trust

This portrait was purchased from the Pryor’s Bank sale on May 3rd 1841, where it was described in the catalogue as:

Item 509. A panel painting, Queen Mary I., in carved guilt frame[9]

The painting remained in the Stowe collection, where it was hung in the Private Dining Room. It is described in the Stowe auction catalogue as:

290 Queen Mary, in a black dress, with richly ornamented sleeves-(Holbein)[10]

The annotated catalogue records the buyer of this portrait as a Mr J. Oxford Ryman, and within the same year of the sale this painting ended up in the collection of the Countess of Jersey.  Initially it was thought to have been destroyed by fire in 1949, but recent research completed by John Stephan Edwards has confirmed that this portrait did indeed survive the fire. 

The Jersey Portraits identity as an image of Lady Jane Grey originates with the purchase of NPG4451 by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1965.  Newspaper clippings from the late 1960’s show that almost immediately Roy Strong, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, compared NPG4451 to the Van de Passe engraving, thought at that time to be the only authentic image of Jane Grey, and a portrait in the collection of Lord Hastings, which had been associated with Jane’s name for many years.  By 1969, Roy Strong published his book Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, in which he also discussed the Jersey portrait under the heading Authentic and Possibly Authentic Portraits. Strong noted similarities between the Jersey portrait and the other images connected to NPG4451 and tentatively suggested that the Jersey portrait was also related to this set and must therefore also be another image of Jane Grey.  At that time, Strong also reported that the “face is that of a much older woman.”[11]  He dismissed the identity of it being a portrait of Queen Mary I, however, and tentatively put this down to bad restoration.  He also noted that the Jersey portrait had been destroyed by fire and that further research was unable to take place.     

Research produced and published by Susan James in January 1996[12] has now established that some of the jewels worn by the sitter in NPG4451 appear in inventories made of Katherine Parr’s jewels in 1550.  By June of 1996, the National Portrait Gallery then opted to reidentify NPG4451 as a portrait of Katherine Parr and not Lady Jane Grey, as all evidence indicated that the sitter depicted was most likely to be Katherine Parr. This in turn allowed the other portraits connected with this pattern to also be reidentified as Katherine Parr.


[1] Stowe A Description of The House and Gardens, 1817, page 52

[2] Catalogue of The Contents of Stowe House, Messrs. Christie and Manson, 1848, page130

[3] Heinz Archive: NPG125400

[4] Foster, Henry, The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated, 1848, page178

[5] Stowe A Description of The House and Gardens, 1817, page 36

[6] Davey, Richard, Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey and Her Times, 1909, page 362

[7] Musical Courier, Namara Discovers Valuable Portrait, 8th November 1917, page 43

[8] Dubdin, Thomas, The Bibliographical Decameron, 1817, page 250

[9] Mr Deacon, Pryor’s Bank Sales Catalouge, 3rd May 1841, page33

[10] Foster, Henry, The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated, 1848, Page176

[11] Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, volume I, page 78-79

[12] James, Susan, Lady Jane Grey of Queen Katheryn Parr, Burlington Magazine, vol. 138, January 1996, Page 20-24

The Duff House Portrait

Among the index cards referring to portraits of Lady jane Grey in the Heinz Archive, London, is a card recording a portrait of her once in the collection of the Earl of Fife.  Until recently this portrait was thought to have been lost, and to my knowledge it has not been studied by historians or exhibited in any public exhibition as a representation of her.

The first record regarding this image located today was published in a privately printed book from 1798.  The book details the large collection of paintings and portraits belonging to James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife (1776-1854) across his various properties.  Recorded as being displayed in the large drawing room at Duff House, an eighteenth-century estate house designed for the family by William, Adam is a portrait of Lady Jane Grey.   The entry reads    

item 18. Lady Jane Grey – half length. This unfortunate lady was forced to accept the crown, 5th July 1553, and was beheaded 12th February, 1554. She was daughter to Henry Grey, Duke of Dorset, by Lady Frances Brandon, by Mary queen of France.  She was remarkable for her learning and virtue.  Her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, was beheaded on the same day.  Zucchero.[1]

This description is vague and gives us very little detail about the actual painting itself. The description does give us our first clue that this painting was not a portrait of Lady Jane Grey, however.  The artist recorded as creating the painting is a “Zucchero,” which suggests the portrait was later in period than that of Jane Grey’s lifetime.

Federigo Zuccaro (c.1540 – 1609), as he is better known, was an Italian artist who first visited England in 1574.  During that visit he was commissioned by Robert Dudley (Jane’s brother in law) to paint an image of himself and Queen Elizabeth.  Compositional drawings for both portraits survive today in the collection of the British Museum.   If the Duff House portrait was painted by this artist, then it could not have been an authentic image of Jane Grey since she had died some twenty years earlier.

Duff House remained in the possession of the Earls of Fife until 1906.  The property was then gifted to the village of Banff Burgh in which the house was built by the then Duke of Fife, Alexander William George Duff (1849-1912).  Alexander Duff had inherited the property and its contents by descent, and when marrying Princess Louise in 1889, he no longer required the property as a principal residence.  Though he did donate the building for the use of the people of Banff, its contents were sold off through auction.  The auction was facilitated by Messrs. Christies, Mason and Woods and took place on 7th June 1907.  The auction catalogue for this sale records that all “pictures are part of a very large collection which was made by James, Earl of Fife towards the end of the eighteenth century and all were displayed at Duff House.”[2]  A portrait thought by the family to depict Lady Jane Grey in 1907 was also included in this auction, and the catalogue does give us our first detailed description.

item 43 Lucas De Heere, portrait of Lady Jane Grey, in rich flowered bodice with lace cuffs and collar, green skirt and crimson robe, lace headdress with red bows.  Holding a kerchief in her left hand and leaning her right arm upon the back of a chair.  On panel 41 ½ x 29 ½ inches[3]

Though the artist associated with this work had changed since the 1798 reference, it is possible that the portrait sold in 1907 was the same image as that described as being Jane Grey in the earlier book. 

I have as yet been unable to locate any reference regarding who purchased the painting at the 1907 sale.  Due to this, I am unable to track fully the documented provenance from this portrait, though I do have a suggestion.

A portrait matching the above description does show up in 1908, one year after the Duff House sale. This painting is described as being in the collection of French collector and gallery owner Edward Brandus (1857-1937).  Brandus was well known for purchasing Old Master portraits at a low price and then selling them on to other collectors via his gallery in New York.   The magazine “American Art News” dated 28th March 1908 records the painting in his collection as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Mor Van Dashorst[4].  A photograph of the portrait was also included in the article, and though it is not clear from the poor quality image, when magnified this image does show a female sitter with a flowered embroidered bodice, holding a kerchief in her left hand and leaning her right arm upon the back of a chair as described in the 1907 auction catalogue. Various bows are also seen around the headdress and down the front of the bodice, like those mentioned in the catalogue of 1907. This then gives us the impression that this painting was the portrait sold from the Duke of Fife’s collection.

Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Van Dashorst-Edward Brandus Collection 1908

This painting was then sold by the Edward Brandus Gallery in April 1908. It eventually ended up in the collection of a “Mrs Flake” and was subsequently purchased as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey by John George Graves, an English collector, at Christie’s auction in July of 1930.[5]

In 1935 Graves gifted this portrait along with others from his collection to the Museum of Sheffield.  The painting remains in the museum’s collection today, though it is rightfully catalogued and referred to as a portrait of an unknown lady rather than its previous title of Jane Grey.

Unknown Lady
oil on panel
41 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches
(c) Museum of Sheffield

When looking at the colour photograph of this image, this portrait is closer in comparison to the description given in the 1907 auction catalogue that also refers to the green skirt and red robe. The measurements of the wooden panel used as the support for the painting also matches the measurements provided in 1907.

Due to the lack of documented provenance for this painting, it cannot be said for certain that this is indeed the portrait described as being that of Jane Grey at Duff House in 1798.  This is the closest image related to the description given in 1907, however, and this painting has also been identified in the past as an image of Jane Grey. 

The costume seen in this painting is again inconsistent with that worn by ladies during Jane Grey’s lifetime, and therefore this is not an authentic portrait of her taken from life or a panting which was created at later period which was meant to represent her.  From the style of clothing worn by the sitter, it appears to date towards the end of the sixteenth century or early seventeenth century.  There is some evidence to state that the embroidered jacket worn by the sitter was in use toward the later decades of Queen Elizabeth I reign, with several being documented in the inventory made in July of 1600 listing clothing stored within the royal wardrobe.  This style of jacket does appear to have become popular between the period of 1600-1620 where it appears in many paintings of female sitters from this time.

Elizabeth Cary?
oil on canvas
c.1610
William Larkin

The ruff also worn by the sitter gives us some indication that this was painted after 1600 as it no longer folds into the figure of eight pleats worn during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and is now seen as a flat collar which was probably heavily starched or suspended using a wire frame or “underpropper,” as it was referred at the time.  The style of headwear seen in the painting is also of interest and does not fit with anything worn by English sitters during this period. This suggests that the painting may possibly be continental in origin, though until testing is done on the pigment used and the painting is studied further this cannot be established.

What this painting does demonstrate is the extreme measures that people would go to when wanting to own a portrait of Lady Jane Grey.  The identification, given to this portrait was done with little research into the period in which she lived, and her name was simply attached to an image that did not really fit with what was known about her at the time.   It is now clear that she can be eliminated as the possible sitter due to the costume worn by the lady depicted.  If the portrait now in the collection of the museum of Sheffield is in fact the painting from Duff House, it can, however, be removed from the list of portraits that potentially depict Jane Grey.


[1]Catalogue of The Portraits and Pictures in The Different Houses Belonging to The Earl of Fife, 1798, page 15-16

[2] Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters and Historical Portraits, The Property of His Grace the Duke of Fife, Messrs. Christie, Mason & Wood. 7th June 1907, page 2

[3] Catalouge of Pictures by Old Masters and Historical Portraits, The Property of His Grace the Duke of Fife, Messrs. Christie, Mason & Wood. 7th June 1907, page 10

[4] American Art News, Volume 6, No 24, March 28, 1908, page 24

[5] Electronic communication, Museums of Sheffield, 31st May 2018