Investigating Jane: Part 3 – Queen Jane’s arrival at the Tower

By Tamise Hills and Lee Porritt

On 10th July 1553, Lady Jane Dudley, entered the Tower of London as Queen of England. As we have previously seen in this series, contemporary sources do not mention what Jane was doing between Edward’s death on 6th July and her official public proclamation on 10th July. The only source we have for Jane’s whereabouts during this time is Jane herself, and this provides very little detailed information. Written in the weeks following her downfall in a letter to Queen Mary, Jane does not mention going anywhere else before the Tower, however, she describes her first public appearance as Queen of England with very little detail, simply referring to the event as:

‘… as everybody knows, the following day I was brought to the Tower.’[1]

Any further details could have been considered insignificant by her at  the time of writing, in what, Eric Ives calls ‘the one written appeal… that would have been allowed.[2]  The only fact that can be ascertained from Jane’s own account is that the new Queen left Chelsea Manor to go to Syon on 9th July 1553, and she was informed of the King’s death and her elevated position when at Syon House.[3]

Lady Jane Grey in Royal Robes
© Public Domain

In recent years, the detailed description supposedly written by Baptista Spinola, describing the small, freckled faced Jane, entering the Tower of London, decked out in her royal robes of green velvet, stamped with gold, has now been revealed as an early twentieth century forgery.[4] For many years this description was extensively used by historians and artists, when writing or creating imagery about this period of her life.  Today this description cannot be relied upon, and the confusion this account has added to the real event is still being challenged by modern historians, who today are revisiting the original accounts to establish what exactly happened.    

We do have number of contemporary accounts that describe the event that took place on 10th July 1553. These accounts differ in several ways, regarding the starting point of Jane’s journey, the time of her arrival and the level of detail given about the event itself.  None of these accounts describe Jane in great detail, and some appear to have caused some confusion around this event over the course of time.  Historians have debated as to the exact journey the new Queen Jane took to the Tower of London, the time she arrived and who she was with.

Nineteenth Century Illustration
Lady Jane Grey Visits the Tower
© Public Domain

In her 2009 book, historian Leanda De Lisle writes that Jane ‘arrived by barge at Westminster from Richmond. In her rooms royal robes had been laid out for her…Having dressed, Jane returned to her covered boat and was rowed to Northumberland’s palace at Durham House, where she dined at noon…That  afternoon, at two o’clock, the royal barges arrived at the Tower carrying Guildford and Jane, her father, Suffolk, the young couple’s mothers and other ladies of the court, attended by a large following.[5]  Eric Ives describes a slightly different version of the story, opting not to mention anything about Jane’s visit to Richmond, Westminster or Durham House and stating that ‘a procession of barges took Jane to the Tower with her husband, her parents, the duchess of Northumberland and ‘other ladies attended by a great following.’ They landed at the royal stairs which gave access by a bridge over the moat to the Byward Tower, but since she was ‘received as queen’ and there were spectators, it is more likely that Jane processed along the wharf and into the Tower by the main entrance, the Lion Gate.[6] Nicola Tallis also reports that ‘about three o’clock on the afternoon of 10th July, ‘Lady Jane was conveyed by water to the Tower of London , and there received as queen,’ this was the observation of Rowland Lea, an official of the royal mint….Lea’s valuable account explains that Jane was rowed from Syon across London in the company of her husband, parents, and other ladies attended by a great following’[7]

In this section of ‘Investigating Jane’, we will take a closer look at some of the contemporary information concerning the arrival, and public proclamation of the new Queen Jane at the Tower of London. We will also look at the newly discovered account, written in the July of 1553, and attempt to establish if this brings some clarity as to what specifically happened during Jane’s first public appearance as Queen of England.

As discussed above, we do have a small number of accounts, completed in the days or weeks following Queen Jane’s entry into the Tower. Apart from Jane herself, we do not know for certain if the writers of any of the surviving accounts, were actual witnesses to what they describe, or received details from other people, which may possibly be the main reason for some of the conflicting information.

The author of the sixteenth century manuscript‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars’, reports that Jane ‘was browte that same afternone from Richemond un-to Westmyster, and soo unto the tower of London by watter.[8] Another sixteenth century manuscript, entitled ‘The Wriothesley Chronicle,’ probably written in the first few years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, has Jane being ‘brought by water from Grenewich to the Tower of London.’[9]

Unfortunately, neither of the anonymous writers of the ‘Advices from England’[10]  or the ‘Chronicles of Queen Jane’[11] state explicitly where Jane’s journey started from, however they do mention the time the barges arrived, and neither state that Jane visited any other royal palace during the procession. The writer of ‘Advices from England’ hints that the procession started from Syon and he informs the reader that ‘On Saturday the Duke—and when I sayDuke” you are to understand “Northumberland”—went to Sion House, whither all the other members of the Council repaired on Sunday to a great banquet attended by the two Duchesses and the Lady Jane, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, who was afterwards proclaimed Queen. The Council fixed upon their plan of action, and on Monday, at two o’clock in the afternoon, there came in the royal barges the Duke of Suffolk; my Lord Guilford, son of the Duke and husband of the Lady Jane; the Lady Jane herself, the two Duchesses and other ladies attended by a great following, and landed at the Tower where the Duke and the other Councillors were waiting to bid the Lady Jane, whose train was carried by her mother, welcome to the Tower.’[12]

The author of ‘The Chronicle of Queen Jane etc’ does not mention Jane visiting any other palace other than the Tower and puts the arrival of the royal barge an hour later, ‘The 10 of July, in the afternoone, about 3 of the clocke, lady Jane was convayed by water to the Tower of London, and there received as queene.’[13] The Spanish Ambassadors give the time as an hour later, writing to the Emperor, Charles V on 10th July that, At about four o’clock this afternoon the ceremony of the state entry was performed at the Tower of London with the accustomed pomp.’[14]

Unfortunately, we cannot say for certain the exact journey the new Queen took or the time the procession arrived at the Tower. The above quotations suggest that she arrived between 2pm and 4pm in the afternoon, and that Jane either started her journey from Syon House or one of the other royal residences listed.  It does need to be remembered that both the writers of ‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars’ and ‘The Wriothesley Chronicle’ are writing their reports at a later period, and the documentation written within days of Queen Jane’s entrance suggests that she started her Journey from Syon House.  The anonymous writer of the ‘Advices from England’ also reports that thegreat banquet attended by the two Duchesses and the Lady Jane, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk’[15] was held at Syon House on the evening of the 9th July, which does suggest that the information provided in the‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars’ andThe Wriothesley Chronicle’ could be incorrect.

Queen Jane Enters the Tower
George Cruikshank
© Public Domain

A more detailed letter thought to have been written by a member of the Venetian diplomatic embassy, in July 1553, and recently discovered in 2013, by John Stephan Edwards does give us more details.  This appears to be the only reference we have that tells us where Jane started her journey, and this again strengthens the accounts written in the following days which suggest that Jane started her journey from Syon. In this, the writer reports that Came this Lady Jane on the 10th of July from Syon to the Tower of London by water, accompanied by great Lords, men and women. Entering into the Tower with the men ahead, the ladies proceeded. The most near to her among the Lords was Northumberland, and among the ladies the mother, who as greatest in precedence held the train of the gown. Now you say to me that this seems to you a monstrosity. To see a child Queen, [who] by certain reason came from the mother, father and mother living, and neither [one of them] King nor Queen. To speak with her and to serve her on bended knee. Not only all the others, but the father and the mother! To have a good husband without gifts other than beauty, his father living, and fourth born. The husband stood with hat in hand, not only in front of the Queen, but in front of father and mother, all the other Lords making a show of themselves putting the knee on the ground.[16]

The Imperial Ambassadors also mention that ‘the new Queen’s train was carried by her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk.’[17] What is interesting about the above quotations, especially that written by the Venetian Diplomat is that they clearly demonstrate disgust as to how this action caused confusion about the correct procedures of rank and inheritance.  This was an unusual act in terms of sixteenth century etiquette, the mother would generally be followed by the daughter as the highest-ranking female, however, Frances, who’s claim to the throne was stronger than Janes, appears to have done all she could to support her daughter.

The Proclamation of Lady Jane Grey
©Society of Antiquaries, London

A short period after entering the Tower, the public proclamation detailing Jane’s claim to the throne was read aloud.   The author of the ‘Advices from England’ recalls the reaction to Jane’s proclamation noting that:

The same evening, to the people’s small contentment and without shouting or other sign of rejoicing, she was proclaimed Queen, as you will have seen by a proclamation that was forwarded to M. Germino. I was present in person when the proclamation was made, and among all the faces I saw there, not one showed any expression of joy.[18]  Jehan Scheyfve was also informing his master of the spectator’s reaction ‘no one present showed any sign of rejoicing, and no one cried: “Long live the Queen!”.’[19]

Although, from the above quotations, Jane’s proclamation doesn’t appear to have gone down well among the citizens of London, the Ambassadors in England were also writing to Emperor Charles V on the following day informing him of the astonishing acceptance of what had been witnessed on the previous day.

‘Several persons in this town of London have been amazed that no protestation had been entered against the proclamation and state entry (of the Lady Jane), and no demonstration in support of the Lady Mary’s right[20]


[1]Malfatti C.V, (Barcelona, 1956) The Accession, Coronation and Marriage of Mary Tudor as related in Four Manuscripts of the Escorial P 45-46

[2] Ives. Eric, (England, 2009) Lady Jane Grey a Tudor Mystery, John Wiley & sons, Ltd P: 19

[3] Malfatti C.V, (Barcelona, 1956) The Accession, Coronation and Marriage of Mary Tudor as related in Four Manuscripts of the Escorial P 45-46

[4] De Leslie. Leanda, (England, 2009) England’s_Forgotten_Queen_THE_FAKING_OF_LADY_JANE_GREY (leandadelisle.com) accessed 9th July 2022

[5] De Leslie. Leanda, (England, 2009) The Sisters who would be Queen, Harper Press P:112-113

[6] Ives. Eric, (England, 2009) Lady Jane Grey a Tudor Mystery, John Wiley & sons, Ltd P: 186-187

[7] Tallis, Nicola, (England 2016) A Crown of Blood, Michael O’Mara Books Ltd P:155

[8]‘The Chronical of the Grey Friars: Jane, in Chronical of the Grey Friars of London Camden Society Old Series: Volume 53, ed. J G Nichols (London, 1852) pp.78-80

[9]Wriothesley. C & Herald. W (1857) A Chronical of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, From A.D. 1485 to 1559, The Camden Society. P:85

[10] ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 8 July 2022].

[11] Nichols, J. G (ed) (1850) The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers, p.3.

[12] ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 8 July 2022].

[13] Nichols, J. G (ed) (1850) The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers, p.3.

[14] ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 8 July 2022].

[15] ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 9 July 2022]

[16] Edwards, S. Some Grey Matter – Two Letters Concerning Lady Jane Grey of England, written in London in July 0f 1553 Date accessed: 8th July 2022

[17] ‘Spain: July 1553, 1-10’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 69-80. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp69-80 [accessed 9 July 2022].

[18] ‘Spain: July 1553, 16-20’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 9 July 2022].

[19] ‘Spain: July 1553, 1-10’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 69-80. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp69-80 [accessed 9 July 2022].

[20] ‘Spain: July 1553, 11-15’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 80-90. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp80-90 [accessed 9 July 2022].

The Moseley Miniature Set: A Well-Travelled Portrait

The Moseley Set
Watercolour on Card
1 ¾ in diameter
©Image Curtesy Freeman’s, Philadelphia, 2022.

Description:

This miniature portrait of Anne Boleyn is one of three, depicting figures from Tudor history, displayed in a black ebonised frame.  All three miniatures measure 1 ¾ inches in diameter and are executed with the use of watercolour and gouache on card. The sitter’s are depicted in front of a plain blue background with a gold boarder.  Anne Boleyn is depicted to just below the chest, she is turned slightly to the viewers left. 

Her face is oval, with a high forehead.  Her hair is brown in colour, appears straight, and is worn parted in the centre of the crown and pulled back over her ears and under her coif.  Her eyes are large and brown in colour and her eyebrows are thin and arched.  The nose is rather large with a high bridge and her lips are full.

Her costume includes her trademark French Hood, ending just below the jawline, which is constructed of black fabric and pearls. At her neck, she wears two strings of pearls with the large letter B pendant of goldsmith work seen in other images based on the B pattern.  The gown itself is constructed of a black fabric, cut square at the neck and a chemise, embroidered with blackwork protrudes along the entire bodice margin.   

Condition:

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate a high-resolution image of this portrait, so, I am unable to comment in any great detail as to its condition. From the low-resolution image provided by the auction house, all three miniature portraits appear to be in rather good condition, with a clear surface and bright colours. The ebonized frame, in which all three miniatures are stored, does appear to show some signs of general age.

Discussion:

The Moseley Miniature, named in this study after its first documented owner, is certainly one of the lesser-known depictions of Anne Boleyn, based on the B Pattern.  As with a lot of the information regarding the iconography of Anne Boleyn, the documentation concerning the Mosely Miniature is fragmented, and its exact date of creation was for a short period of time thought to have been the sixteenth century. 

The first actual piece of evidence which can be associated with this particular portrait appears in 1857. This small miniature, along with the two others displayed within the same frame was exhibited in the ‘Art Treasures Exhibition,’ Manchester.  The Catalogue entry for this exhibition lists the owner as a William Moseley, esq and describes the sitters as

Three Miniatures: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Charles V (when 19)[1]

Unfortunately, no artist had been associated with the creation of the three portraits in the exhibition catalogue and no information concerning the portraits provenance was also provided.  No inscriptions detailing the sitter’s names or ages can be viewed on the portrait’s surfaces. So, we must then presume that either the portrait set contained a label on the back, or that the information about the sitter’s and their so-called ages was provided by Moseley himself.   

William Moseley’s principal seat was Leaton Hall, near Enville, Southbridge.  He had inherited the hall from his father Walter Henry Moseley, on his death in 1827.[2]  No documentation has, yet, been located to inform us exactly when the Moseley family acquired and sold the portrait set.  Walter Moseley began extensive remodelling of Leaton Hall in 1817, and it may be possible that the set was purchased around this time.  On the death of William Moseley, the estate then passed to his son William Henry Moseley, and remained in the family until it was eventually sold off in 1916.[3]   

By the early 1920’s, the portrait set appears to have travelled overseas and was in the collection of socialite and antique collector Edith Mary Kingdon Gould. [4]   On her death in 1921, the family began selling off large amounts from the collection she had acquired.  Between the years of 1925 – 1938, many auctions took place containing items once belonging to Edith Gould and on 12th January 1929, the portrait set was once again up for sale. The auction catalogue for this sale does give us our first piece of photographic evidence.  The portrait set was noted to be a featured lot in the sale and placed next to its lot description was an early black and white photograph showing the collection of three miniatures in all their glory.[5]

Early Image of The Moseley Portrait Set
© Public Domain
Detail: Anne Boleyn Watercolour on Card
1 ¾ in diameter
©Public Domain

Unfortunately, again, this catalogue description gives us no details as to the provenance of the set, and by this point all three portraits had been wrongly associated with the hand of sixteenth century artist Hans Holbein.  During this period, many sixteenth century portraits, and in some cases more modern creations, held in private collections or sold at auction were simply associated with the hand of Hans Holbein.  Due to lack of access to documented information and provenance details, portraits were simply associated with artists due to some slight similarities in style, the fame attached to a name, or as a way of adding value to a painting.  Several other supposed sixteenth century miniature portraits described in the same catalogue, today, certainly have some questionable identifications when it comes to both sitter and artist associated to them. As with the Moseley Miniature, little, or no evidence to support the associations was provided by the auction house at the point of sale. 

The stylistic approach used by the artist who created the Moseley miniatures is most certainly not consistent with any other sixteenth century miniature portrait.  It is also most definitely missing that fine quality of brushwork seen in other miniatures that can truly relate to the hand of Hans Holbein. The approach is more consistent with that used by the nineteenth century British Miniaturist, George Perfect Harding (1781-1853). 

Left: Moseley Anne Boleyn Centre: Anne of Cleves By George Perfect Harding Right: Prince Arthur By George Perfect Harding

During the nineteenth century, artists would often revisit the works of some of the more prominent sixteenth century artist’s and produce copies of their portraits to satisfy the high demand in the public’s fascination with English History.

In some cases, many of these newly created copies would often be so realistic that at times it would be extremely difficult to establish the genuine artifact from the newly created version.  Some of the more modern copies would, at times be sold off as a genuine sixteenth century portrait due to the quality of the copy. George Perfect Harding was a prolific copyist of historical portraiture and would often go to extreme lengths to locate works which had not, as yet been reproduced by other peers of his day. Harding was certainly an exceptionally talented artist, who would never attempt to pass his own works off as the genuine artifact. Examples of his work are stored today within private and public collection’s all show his stylistic approach of a sixteenth century portraits, rather than a direct copy created to mislead viewer.[6]

By 1971, the portrait set was once again back in England and was sold by Sotheby’s auction house on 18th of October.  During this sale the set was rightfully described as ‘after Hans Holbein, probably by George Perfect Harding’ and sold for the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds.[7] It finally appeared, once again in America, when it was sold from the collection of Dr Virginia Armentrout, in 2006, by Freeman’s auction house, Philadelphia. The set was purchased for the sum of one thousand six hundred dollars, and I am now informed that it is currently in a private collection in Pennsylvania.[8]

Conclusion:

Though undoubtably a beautiful portrait of Anne Boleyn, it appears that the portrait is most certainly a nineteenth century copy, rather than that produced by the hand of Hans Holbein. It can therefore be eliminated from any possible list of sixteenth century portraits associated with the name Anne Boleyn.  If anything, this article has attempted to document and put some order to the provenance relating to this item.  


[1] Catalogue of Art Treasures of The United Kingdom, Manchester, 1857, item 23, P.208

[2] Burke, Bernard, (1879) A Genealogical and Heraldic History  of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Harrison. Pall Mall, Vol 2 P: 1134

[3] Shropshire Archives, SC/1/50, Sales Catalogue for the Leaton and Whittimere estate, July 1916

[4] This was not to be the only portrait of Anne Boleyn owned by the Gould family, and a second portrait was purchased by Anna Gould in June of 1940 and can still be seen at the Family seat of Lyndhurst Manor toady. For more information on the Lyndhurst portrait see: The Lyndhurst Portrait – Lady Jane Grey Revisited

[5] Objects of art: American Art Association: Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming: Internet Archive, accessed June 2022

[6] For more information on the historic portrait copyists and their production see: Reynolds. Graham, (1999) The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Miniatures in The Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Royal Collection Enterprises Limited

[7] Sotheby’s Sales catalogue, 18th October 1971, lot 79

[8] Electronic communication with Raphael Chatroux of Freeman’s Auctions, 20th August 2020

Investigating Jane – Part One: The Wedding

By Tamise Hills and Lee Porritt

In May 1553, the wedding of Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley took place at Durham House, the London residence of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.  Over the course of four hundred years, many myths have attached themselves to the life and events surrounding Lady Jane Grey.  Details surrounding the events of her marriage are clouded with a mixture of fact, myth, confusion and in some cases the actual evidence of what truly happened is unfortunately missing.

Today, many of us have been introduced to the story of Lady Jane Grey through modern technology, fictional writing, and the 1986 Paramount movie ‘Lady Jane’.  In many of these adaptations her wedding to Guildford Dudley is often mentioned, however, at times, the myths have clouded the true facts of what really happened during the build-up to the marriage, the celebration itself, and the few short months the young couple experienced of married life, before their lives would be turned upside down.

Lady Jane Movie
1986
© Public Domain

In this article, we will look at what contemporary evidence we have today and attempt to discover exactly what happened during this period of Jane’s life. We will also attempt to separate some of the facts from the large amount of fiction that has managed to spin itself around the events of May 1553. 

In 2009, Historian Eric Ives briefly discussed the lack of surviving documented evidence surrounding Jane and Guildford’s wedding.  Ives noted that ‘English observers do not mention the celebrations.[1] We do, however, have a small number of reports written by foreign dignitaries who obtained details of the celebrations, and appear to have been very impressed by the extravagance and splendour of the events.  

The first piece of contemporary evidence relating to the marriage of Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley, comes to us in the shape of a dispatch sent to Charles V by Jehan Scheyfve, Ambassador to the Roman Empire, dated to 28th April 1553.

Scheyfve starts his letter by informing Emperor Charles V of the current issues relating to the health of the King of England.  He notes that ‘the King had retired to Greenwich and there seems to be no improvement in his condition.’ Towards the end of this letter, he informs his master of a rather curious event that has taken place in the past few days in which John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland has ‘found means to ally and bind his son, My Lord Guildford, to the Duke of Suffolk’s eldest daughter whose mother is the third heiress to the crown.’ [2]

Scheyfve ends his letter with a rather intriguing word of warning that a ‘great quantity of money is being collected from every source and this could possibly be something to do with the forthcoming marriage.’ [3]  Within sixteenth century England, the marriage of a female, especially one of royal blood was no easy task. Today, we marry for love, however, during the sixteenth century, marriage was seen as a way of gaining financial and social advancement for the entire family. As the first-born daughter of the Duke of Suffolk and Great Granddaughter of King Henry VII, Jane would have certainly been of high value during a time when any discussion about her marriage was left entirely in the hands of her parents. She would have brought to any marriage, the power of royal blood and a strong connection to other members of the royal family. The fact that she would become betrothed to one of the younger sons of the Duke of Northumberland and the social advancements only appeared to enhance the Dudley family, immediately raised suspicion among the Tudor court that something was about to happen.

Legend has it that Jane had to be forced into the marriage, and one cannot think of this event without the disturbing scene from the movie ‘Lady Jane’ in which her mother, Frances Grey beats Jane into submission with the use of a whip.  Depending on which source you read it appears that her mother was for or against the match, and unfortunately, some of these sources have been used over the years as a way of turning Frances Grey into the cold hearted, power gaining female that has often been portrayed in fictional writing. 

Until recently, the first mention of Jane being forced into the marriage was written by Giovanni Francesco Commendone, a papal secretary sent to England by Julius III in the August of 1553, to congratulate Mary on achieving the throne of England.  Commendone notes that the Duke of Northumberland had

‘Made arrangements to marry his third son to the first-born daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, Jane by name, who although strongly deprecating such a marriage, was compelled to submit by the insistence of her mother and the threats of her Father.’[4] 

A slightly earlier letter, thought to have been written by a member of the Venetian diplomatic embassy in the July of 1553 was discovered in 2013, by Dr John Stephan Edwards.  Published in a book from 1577, this letter contradicts Commendone’ s account of events, especially the information surrounding Frances Grey.

‘The Duke of Suffolk, Jane’s father, was persuaded of it, and overcome by the inducements and effective methods of this man. But the Duchess of Suffolk with all her household would not have wished [it], and the daughter was forced there by the father, with beating as well.’[5]

By 19th July 1553, Jane was a prisoner in the Tower of London, and the difference in accounts regarding Jane’s reluctance and her mother’s reaction could have been part of trying to place the blame for making Jane queen entirely on the Dudley family. Jane’s parents and possibly Jane herself had harboured hopes that their eldest daughter would wed King Edward VI. When Jane had become the ward of Sir Thomas Seymour, one of the alleged promises made by the King’s Uncle was that ‘he would marry her to the King’s Majesty’.[6]  Whether this was one of the reasons why she and possibly Frances opposed the marriage cannot be known today, however as discussed above the fact that she was betrothed to the younger son of a Duke must have also caused Jane and her mother some disappointment. 

Unfortunately, Guildford’s response to the betrothal has not been documented, however the scenes depicted in the ‘Lady Jane’ movie in which he is located in a brothel ‘sampling the pleasures of a lady of the night’ when he heard the news are probably untrue. As the three of Northumberland’s older sons were already married, Guildford was the best Dudley could offer. Like Jane, Guildford was educated and was probably just expected to fulfil his duty, after all, it was him who would benefit from the union.  Unfortunately, Guildford Dudley’s date of birth is not recorded.  Traditionally, his year of birth has been given as either 1534 or 1536, but recent research produced by Susan Higginbotham suggests that he may have possibly been born between 1537 and 1538, thus making him the same age as Jane Grey or possibly younger.[7]

Whether Jane or Guildford agreed to the match or not, preparations for the celebrations started immediately and on 12th May 1553, Jehan Scheyfve noted in his report to the emperor that

‘This Whitsuntide the marriage of the Duke of Northumberland’s son to the eldest daughter of the late Duke of Suffolk is to be celebrated. They are making preparations for games and jousts. The King has sent presents of rich ornaments and jewels to the bride’[8]

We have no contemporary description of Jane on the day of her wedding, this, however, has not stopped some historians over the centuries from producing and publishing their own interpretations of what Jane and Guildford apparently wore. In his 1909 work, ‘The Nine Days’ Queen: Lady Jane and Her Times’, Richard Davey copied a detailed description of Jane on the day of her wedding from the earlier account written by Herbert Burke in his book ‘Tudor Portraits’, published in 1880.

‘Lady Jane’s headdress was of green velvet, set round with precious stones. She wore a gown of cloth of gold, and a mantle of silver tissue. Her hair hung down her back, combed and plaited in a curious fashion then unknown to ladies of quality.[9]

Although, this description is intriguing, it does appear to be an entirely fictional account, and even Davey himself was noted to question the authority of the description. What we do know is that Jane and other members of the wedding party were provided with fine cloth and jewels from the King’s wardrobe. The Imperial Ambassador reported on 12th May 1553 that ‘The King has sent presents of rich ornaments and jewels to the bride.’[10] An edited version of the original warrant, dated to 24th April 1553 was published in a book by John Strype in 1822.

To deliver out of the King’s wardrobe much rich apparel and jewels: as, to deliver…to the Lady Jane, daughter to the Duke of Suffolk, and to the Lord Guildford Dudley, for wedding apparel, which were certain parcels of tissues, and cloth of gold and silver, which had been the late Duke’s and Duchess’s of Somerset, forfeited to the King’[11]

As part of the research for her biography ‘Crown of Blood’, Dr Nicola Tallis was noted to revisit the original document and has now provided us with the most detailed analysis of what Jane and Guildford wore during the wedding celebrations.

‘Among the materials were elegant ‘black silver cloth of tissue raised with roses and branches of gold’, cloth of gold tissues with white silver, purple and white cloth of tissue raised with roses and crimson cloth of gold branched with velvet…. The king had sent presents of rich ornaments and jewels to the bride. There was a magnificent billement containing thirteen table diamonds set in gold enamelled black’ a carcanet (necklace) of seventeen ‘great pearls and seventeen pieces of goldsmith’s work enamelled black with one flower of gold enamelled white and black with a fair diamond and one emerald’[12]

What is clear from the above lists of fabrics and jewels is that the wedding was certainly planned with the upmost attention to detail and celebrated in a splendid manner.  Although Jane was to marry the fourth son of a Duke, there was to be no doubt over her status or her position as a member of the royal family and the guests would certainly leave the celebrations with the feeling that this was an extremely powerful union. 

The Marriage of Lady Jane Grey
Archille Deveria (1800-1857)
© Public Domain

The actual event took place on 25th May 1553 and the celebrations would continue over two days. Not only would Jane and Guildford be married, but the event was to be a triple occasion.  Jane’s younger sister Katherine was to marry Henry Herbert, the son of the Earl of Pembroke and Guildford’s sister, also called Katherine, was to marry Henry Hastings, the son of the Earl of Hastings.  Jane’s youngest sister, Lady Mary Grey would also be betrothed to one of her Grey cousins.  

Surrounded by family and a large group of important guests, including members of the privy council and foreign ambassadors, Jane would have entered the chapel at Durham House. The only known drawing of the entire layout of Durham House was made in 1626, This includes a small drawing of the chapel which shows that the building was constructed with three large windows which would have allowed the light of springtime to shine through.[13] The sunlight would have certainly glistened from the jewels and fine fabrics worn by the bride as she walked toward the alter where Guildford would have been stood waiting for his potential bride.  Formal wedding vows would have been exchanged and the newly married couples, as well as the guests would have then attended the great hall to enjoy the lavish array of dishes prepared in celebration. The two-days of festivities would continue with games, jousts and other entertainments organised by the Duke of Northumberland himself.

There does appear to be some debate as to whether Jane herself attended one of the banquets. The letters discovered by Dr John Stephan Edwards in 2013, do give us more details about the wedding celebrations. However, the translations of these letters by Edwards and Dr Nicola Tallis, who is also noted to have included them in her book, differ as to whether Jane dined in public or not.

Published on his website in 2013, Dr John Stephan Edwards translation of the letter reports the writer stating that ‘One of the days of the festivities, Jane not being out to dine in public, the Ambassador of France and that of Venice took her place, between two Marchionesses, one on the right and the other on the left.’[14] Dr Nicola Tallis quotes a slightly different version in her 2016 book reporting that ‘Jane, it was observed led to her table ‘the French and Venetian Ambassadors’ who were seated between two ladies.’[15]

Jehan Scheyfve wrote to the Bishop of Arras on 30th May 1553, that ‘M. de Boisdauphin was invited to the weddings and banquets, to which he went on the first and second day. The new ambassador was not asked; but M. de L’Aubespine and the Venetian ambassador both went on the second day.’[16]  From this letter we know that the Venetian Ambassador attended the wedding on the second day.  Depending on which translation of the new letter is correct, we know that either Jane did not dine in public on the second day of the wedding celebrations or that she dined with the ambassadors.

The Marriage of Lady Jane Grey
Oliver Pelton (1798-1882)
© Public Domain

With the wedding ceremony over with, married life for Lord and Lady Dudley certainly didn’t get off to the best start. It is not exactly known if the next event happened at one of the wedding banquets or in the weeks following the wedding, however it appears that Guildford, his brother and possibly some of the other guests were struck down with illness.  On 12th June the Imperial Ambassador wrote that, ‘My Lord Guildford Dudley, recently married to Suffolk’s eldest, one of his brothers, the Admiral and other lords and ladies, recently fell very ill after eating some salad at the Duke of Northumberland’s and are still suffering from the results. It seems the mistake was made by a cook, who plucked one leaf for another.’[17]  

Historians have debated over the centuries if the marriage between Jane and Guildford was ever consummated. Fictional writers have embellished the uncertainty around this, and in many fictional adaptations the relationship between Jane and Guildford has been portrayed as hate, lust and on occasion rape. The truth is, we don’t entirely know if the marriage was consummated or not. Jehan Scheyfve did report that ‘the marriage between the Duke of Northumberland’s son and the daughter of the Duke of Suffolk has taken place, but is not yet to be consummated, because of their tender age’[18]. This, however, may possibly be a misunderstanding by Scheyfve, as Jane was deemed to be of childbearing age, in terms of sixteenth century values, and it may just be possible that the couple were asked to hold off until the plans for their future could be secured.

Unusually, it does appear that Jane and Guildford were noted to spend much of the month of June living separate lives as Jane would initially return home with her parents for some weeks after the wedding. It does, however, appear that between then and when Jane went to Chelsea Manor to recover from an unspecified illness that she and Guildford had lived together at one of the Dudley residences. A rather intriguing comment made by Jane herself, in a letter to Queen Mary, during her imprisonment, indicates that by the time she was made Queen, she was at least sharing a bed with Guildford.  When discussing an argument between herself and Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland she was noted to report that Guildford’s mother ‘induced her son not to sleep with me anymore.’[19]  If indeed the marriage was not to be consummated as Scheyfve reports, then would the couple’s parents take the risk and allow these two young individuals to share the same bed.  

We have very little information to inform us as to how Jane and Guildford Dudley spent the early months of their married life, and how their relationship developed as the young couple became more acquainted with each other.  The couple’s married life would unfortunately last less than nine weeks and by 19th July 1553, both were imprisoned separately within the Tower of London and this young relationship would be cut short in the saddest of ways.


[1] Ives, E. (2009) Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, Wiley-Blackwell, p.185.

[2] Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, Calendar of State Papers Spanish, Vol XI, p.36

[3] Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, Calendar of State Papers Spanish, Vol XI, p.36

[4] Malfatti, C.V (translator) (1956), The Accession Coronation and Marriage of Mary Tudor as related in four manuscripts of the Escorial, Barcelona, p.5

[5] Edwards, S. Some Grey Matter – Two Letters Concerning Lady Jane Grey of England, written in London in July of 1553 Date accessed: May 2022

[6] Haynes, S. (1740) A Collection of State Papers relating to Affairs In the Reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth: From the year 1542 to 1570, Bowyer, p.76. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=YitDAAAAcAAJ&hl=en_GB&pg=GBS.PA76 [Date accessed May 2022]

[7] Higginbotham, Susan.  How old was Guildford Dudley? https://www.susanhigginbotham.com/posts/how-old-was-guildford-dudley-beats-me/ accessed: May 2022.

[8] Spain: May 1553′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 37-48. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp37-48 [accessed 23 May 2022].

[9] Davey, R. (1909) The Nine Days’ Queen: Lady Jane and Her Times, Methuen & Co, p.23

[10] ‘Spain: May 1553’, Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11: 1553 (1916), pp. 37-48. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88480 Date accessed: May 2022.

[11] Strype, J. Ecclesiastical Memorials Relating Chiefly to Religion and the Reformation of It, and the Emergencies of the Church of England Under K. Henry VIII., K. Edward VI., and Q. Mary I., with Large Appendices Containing Original Papers Google Books, p.111-112. Date accessed: May 2022

[12] Tallis, N (2016) Crown of Blood, The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, p. 136 – 137

[13] For more information of the history and layout of Durham House see: Durham Place | British History Online (british-history.ac.uk) accessed: May 2022

[14] Edwards, S. Some Grey Matter – Two Letters Concerning Lady Jane Grey of England, written in London in July of 1553 Date accessed: 20 May 2022

[15] Tallis, N (2016) Crown of Blood, The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, p. 14

[16] Spain: May 1553′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 37-48. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp37-48 [accessed 23 May 2022].

[17] ‘Spain: June 1553, 1-15’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 48-56. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp48-56 [accessed 20 May 2022].

[18] Spain: May 1553′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 37-48. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp37-48 [accessed 23 May 2022].

[19] Ives, E, (2009) Lady Jane Grey A Tudor Mystery, p.186

Lady Jane Dudley – Forget What You Know!

Co- authored by Tamise Hills & Lee Porritt  – Published in The Historian Magazine April 2022

Lady Jane Grey Going to Her Execution
Edward Harrison May
1864
Oil on Canvas
59 x 80 inches
(c) Woodmere Art Museum

On a cold morning in February 1554, the seventeen-year-old Lady Jane Dudley left her apartments within the Tower of London.  Dressed entirely in black and reading from her prayer book, Jane walked towards the newly erected scaffold, placed at the north side of the white tower.  Climbing the steps, Jane made a speech, and took her last look at the world before laying her head on the block.

Almost from the moment the axe fell, Lady Jane Dudley was overshadowed by the story of Lady Jane Grey. When it comes to the life of Lady Jane Dudley, little contemporary documentation and no authenticated portraits survive. This has allowed others to invent stories to fill the gaps in our knowledge and unfortunately some of these inventions have persisted.

Modern historians such as Eric Ives, Leanda De Leslie, Nicola Tallis and Stephan Edwards have recently published biographies on the life and times of Lady Jane Grey.  All take a fresh look at her life and the contemporary evidence known to exist. It is these biographies that have started to challenge some of the many myths about Jane and for the first time we are starting to get a better understanding as to what this remarkable character was truly like.

Part of the myth of ‘Jane Grey’ is why Jane is commonly known today by her maiden name?  At the time of her death, she had been married to Lord Guildford Dudley for eight months, and signed her name ‘Jane Dudley’ in two of the messages in the prayer book she carried to her execution.  There does appear to have been a conscious effort to try and separate Jane from the Dudley family after the events of 1553, especially within the Grey family circle.  All blame for placing Jane on the throne was directed to John Dudley. Jane herself, is often referred to as ‘Jane of Suffolk, the Lady Jane or the usurper’ within contemporary descriptions of the events surrounding her reign, imprisonment, and execution.  By the end of the sixteenth century, Jane’s married name is almost completely obliterated from modern text, and although many ballads and plays were written during the seventeenth and eighteenth century portraying the couple as separated lovers, Jane would continually be referred to by her maiden name.

Jane is also often referred to as the ‘nine days Queen’, again however this is a common misconception, created during the Victorian period to portray her reign as a ‘nine days wonder’.  Like with all monarchs, Jane’s reign officially started at the death of her predecessor. From Edward VI’s death on 6th July, the Privy Council were working to secure the succession and the new Queen may have been given time to come to terms with the shock of her new elevated position. Accounts differ as to when the new Queen was actually told.  Jane’s short reign has been counted from when she was publicly proclaimed on the 10th July and not from the official date of the 6th, thus making her the thirteen days queen instead of nine.

Jane’s appearance is another myth to be recently challenged.  For many years a detailed account of Jane’s arrival at the Tower of London as Queen on 10th July written by the merchant ‘Sir Baptist Spinola’ has been extensively reproduced within art, biographies and any discussions concerning the portraiture of Jane. The account, which describes the young Queen as ‘small and thin with freckles’ appeared in the 1909 biography ‘The Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey & Her Times’ by Richard Davey. 

During research for ‘The Sisters Who Would Be Queen’, Leanda de Lisle discovered that Davey’s book was the sole source for Spinola’s account and that no other mention of this description of Jane could be located before 1909. De Lisle also noted that Davey had probably made the description up using some contemporary descriptions of the event, a description of Queen Mary I and a Victorian costume illustration depicting Jane in royal robes.

In recent years, possible new portraits, a re-discovered letter, and the re-evaluation of sources have allowed Jane Dudley to start to emerge from the shadow of ‘Jane Grey.’

List of recommend books:

Eric Ives, ‘Lady Jane Grey a Tudor Mystery’, 2009

Leanda De Lisle, ‘The Sisters Who Would Be Queen’, 2010

John Stephan Edwards, ‘A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley’, 2015

Nicola Tallis, ‘Crown of Blood The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey’, 2016

The Paine Miniature – Is it Elizabeth?

Portrait of an Unknown Lady

Introduction:

In May 2021, I came across an image of a rather intriguing sixteenth century miniature portrait hidden away in an auction catalogue dated to 1979.  On seeing the image, the painting immediately sparked my interest, firstly, because I had not seen the image before and secondly, because my immediate thought was that the draughtsmanship showed some similarities to the work thought to have been produced by court miniaturist Levina Teerlinc.

Thanks to the use of social media, I was very quickly able to track down the current owner of a similar portrait. With the information I had already gathered, it was quickly established that this was indeed the same miniature photographed and sold in 1979. I was then provided with some high-resolution colour images of the miniature and further information about its modern-day provenance.   

This article intends to document and examine the information already known about this miniature portrait.  I will also attempt to establish if there is any possible connection between this miniature and the famous sixteenth century artist Levina Teerlinc.  I will also attempt to establish if there is any possible connection between the sitter depicted and other iconography related to Queen Elizabeth I.     

A picture containing text, gear

Description automatically generated
The Paine Miniature Portrait
Oil on Card
6.5 Centimetres
Unknown Artist
©Private Collection

Description:

The portrait is painted with the use of oil on card and is 6.5 centimetres in diameter. Its format is circular, and the sitter is depicted in three-quarter length facing the viewers left.  Placed before a plain grey background, she has light auburn hair that is parted in the middle, brown eyes, and a small mouth.  On her head she wears what appears to be a white coif cap. Her costume is made up of a black loose gown trimmed with white fur and a fur collar.  Fur is also seen at the top of the sleeve heads and down the front of the gown.  Both hands are seen in the image and the sitter has her right hand tucked into the front opening of her gown.  A small ruffle, embellished with blackwork stitching is visible at the sitter’s neck and wrists and a gold ring with a large emerald suspended from a black ribbon around her neck. A gold boarder has also been added to the outer edge of the portrait.

Inscription:

Detail Image Showing Hands & Ring

A Memento Mori or skull is depicted on right-hand side of the miniature with the wording: AHI MORTE TU TOGLI & NUNQUA RENDI TU PRESTI & MAINON PAGHI placed vertically along the side of the sitter.

‘Remember you have to die’, is the rough translation for the Latin word Memento Mori. The symbolic use of the skull, rotten fruit or sometimes a butterfly have been used throughout history to remind viewers that death is inevitable.  These symbols became popular in the first half of the sixteenth century and were used in portraiture, jewellery, and illustrations. Today, the image of a skull reminds the modern viewer of danger or a rather morbid obsession with death.  However, in the sixteenth century the image of a skull was used as a polite reminder to live life to the full and that death unites everyone as it is the one thing human beings are guaranteed in life.

The inscription seen on the miniature is complex, and in all honesty my languages are not excellent. It appears to be Italian, and roughly translated to ‘Alas death you take away & you never lend & you never pay’, which is again another reminder to the viewer that death will come someday.

Detail Image Showing Inscription

Provenance:

The portrait first appears in the auction catalogue as part of the sale of the Edward Grosvenor Paine collection of portrait miniature. Paine was born in Louisiana in 1911 and worked within the fashion industry across the globe.  With keen interest in antiques, he eventually became a dealer in the 1950’s, specialising in porcelain and portrait miniatures. Settling at his family estate of Primrose Plantation, Oxford, Mississippi, Paine travelled the globe and acquired a large collection of portrait miniatures.  Prior to his death in 1994, he began to sell some of his large personal collection and several auctions facilitated by Christie’s Auction House, London were held with the remainder of the collection being sold after his death.

The auction of the Paine miniature took place on October 23rd, 1979 and for the purpose of this sale, the portrait is described in the catalogue as ‘An early Miniature of a Lady, English School, circa 1570.’ Unfortunately, no information regarding the portrait’s provenance prior to 1979 is listed among the details in the catalogue.  As stated above, Paine was known to travel the globe in search of acquiring portraits for his own personal collection and unless documentation surfaces to establish more information about the early provenance then this may never be fully known.  No artist association is listed however, the auction house does refer to its possible place of origin as English School.[1]

The miniature portrait was purchased by an unknown collector from the 1979 sale, and it remained in a private collection in the USA.  It appeared at auction again in 1999, when it was sold by Sotheby’s, New York on December 15th.  Once again, the portrait was simply described as ‘A Miniature of a Lady, English School, circa 1555’ with its provenance listed as the ‘Paine collection’. The portrait was purchased by its current owner and it again remains in a private collection.

Thoughts:

I do understand that it is a little bit unethical to jump to conclusions when undergoing portrait research, however I do believe that sharing ideas and taking time to listen to the views of others is very important.  One of the main reasons why I opted to write this article is that one thing stands out to me. When first having sight of the Paine miniature I noted some similarities in draughtsmanship with the small amount of work attributed to the famous sixteenth century artist Levina Teerlinc. 

Born around 1510, Teerlinc was the daughter of the famous Flemish illustrator Simon Benninck.  Probably taught to paint by her father, by 1546, she was married to George Teerlinc, and living and working in England.  Teerlinc was granted a salary of forty pounds a year by Henry VIII, and it is documented that she worked for the English Crown until her death in 1576.[2]

When it comes to identifying her work, Teerlinc is a bit of a puzzle.  Although she is one of the more well documented artists of the sixteenth century in terms of payment, lists of work and entries in household accounts, no miniature portrait containing her signature has survived today.

In July 1983, a small number of miniature portraits were grouped together for the first time and associated with Teerlinc.  These paintings were exhibited as part of the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. All portraits were painted between 1546-1576, or during the period between the deaths of previous court miniaturists Hans Holbein and Lucas Hornebolte in the 1540’s and the rise of Nicholas Hillard in the 1570’s.  In 1983, all the images were thought to have been produced by the same artists and as stated above it was suggested at that time that this artist could only have been Levina Teerlinc.[3]

All the miniatures do show some similarities in draughtsmanship; The sitters are commonly depicted with having rather large heads and stick-like arms, and some similarities in the brushwork was also noted, including the use of loose wash work to create the features. 

Some of the similarities in draughtsmanship noted in the work associated with Teerlinc are also visible in the Paine miniature, particularly within the figure depicted.  Again, the figure can be seen with the characteristic large head and stick-like arms and some similarities are also noted within the brushwork used on the face and hands. One major sticking point is that the background and materials used to create the Paine miniature appears to be totally inconsistent with the other works thought to be by Teerlinc. All work currently associated with her are painted with the use of watercolour or gouache on vellum and all have the characteristic plain blue background. As discussed in the description section of this article, the Paine miniature’s background appears to have been made up of a grey pigment and according to auction descriptions the entire miniature is created with the use of oil on card.

George Teerlinc is recorded as receiving the sum of ten pounds from the Privy Council in the October of 1551 for ‘being sent with his wife to the Lady Elizabeth’s Grace to draw out her picture.’  It is generally thought Levina completed the portrait however the payment was made to George as he was her husband.  Much debate has taken place as to the identity of this supposed 1551 miniature however, no confirmed miniature portrait depicting the Princess Elizabeth and associated with Teerlinc has, yet, been located. [4] 

This may just be pure coincidence, but I do see some similarities between the sitter depicted in the Paine miniature and the depiction of Princess Elizabeth in the family portrait at Boughton House.

The Boughton House Family Portrait
oil on panel
© Duke of Buccleuch
Francesco Bartolozzi Engraving
Eighteenth Century

In brief, The Boughton House portrait resurfaced in 2008, when it was rediscovered by historians Tracy Borman and Alison Weir, hanging in the private collection of the Duke of Buccleuch.

The painting itself was exhibited in the Tudor Exhibition of 1890, and appeared in Freeman O’Donoghue’s ‘Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of Portraits of Queen Elizabeth published in 1894.  Francesco Bartolozzi, an eighteenth-century engraver was also known to have produced an engraved version, either based on the Boughton House portrait or a similar copy.  O’Donoghue listed the Boughton House portrait as ‘not Contemporary’ and this was also reinforced during the rediscovery when an estimated date of creation was given as circa 1650-1680.

In 2008, comparisons were immediately made between the image of Princess Elizabeth in the Boughton House portrait and NPG 764, the Syon and Berry-Hill portraits, previously associated with Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth.  A conclusion was made that since the other sitters depicted in the Boughton Portrait were based on known portrait types then the image of Elizabeth must have been based on one of these portraits, thus confirming the sitter once and for all in NPG 764, the Syon and Berry-Hill Portrait as Elizabeth when Princess.[5]

When compared side-by side to the Boughton House Portrait and the Subsequent Bartolozzi engraving, the Pain Miniature again shows similarities in costume and composition.  The sitter appears to be wearing an almost identical gown with the white fur collar and ruffle, also, similar white fitted sleeves with the distinctive pleating are seen within all three images.  The sitter is also depicted with the right hand placed into the front opening of the gown in all three images.

The hood worn by the sitter in the Paine miniature is depicted differently in both the Boughton Portrait and Bartolozzi engraving, and the ring suspended from the black ribbon is also missing in the later images.   One possible explanation for this is that the depiction of Elizabeth in the Boughton House portrait was in fact based on a modified copy of an original image.  A recently discovered image of a rather interesting sixteenth century drawing located by myself in the Witt Library, London may give us one final clue.

A picture containing text, building material, stone

Description automatically generated
Unknown Lady
(Possibly Elizabeth I)
Follower of Francois Clouet
Black & Red Chalk
© Witt Library, London
A picture containing ground

Description automatically generated
Detail Image Showing Ring & Ribbon

This image above, was stored among a large number of sold images previously associated with the French artist Francios Clouet.  The drawing shows a female sitter, facing the viewers left and again wearing a similar loose gown and ruffle to that seen in the Paine miniature.  In this image the sitter is also depicted as wearing a ring containing a stone suspended from a ribbon around her neck, once again these features are mimicking what is seen in the Paine miniature.

Interestingly, the drawing does contain an inscription in French noting the sitter as La Royne D’Angleterre suggesting that the lady depicted was royal and English. The drawing was sold in 1983 and was described as ‘said to be a portrait of Queen Mary Tudor’.  Since no other image matching this drawing and described as Mary has surfaced it could be possible that the auction house may have recorded this as the wrong sister and that this drawing is in fact a drawing of a portrait of Elizabeth. It may just be possible that this drawing was taken from a pre-existing portrait that was used by artists when creating subsequent copies and as other copies were made some of the finer details were lost.   

In conclusion, the Paine miniature has raised some very interesting questions.  Unfortunately, these questions cannot be easily answered without using some scientific investigations on the miniature itself.  As discussed above, their does appear to be some similarities between the Paine miniature and other works associated with Teerlinc, however these are not totally conclusive.  Also, the fact that Teerlinc’s 1551 miniature of Elizabeth when princess is now lost, and that the Paine miniature has similarities to other works associated with Elizabeth just adds that extra bit of excitement leaving, us, the viewer, more curious for further information.


[1] Christie’s Auction, October 23rd, 1979, The Edward Grosvenor Paine Collection of Portrait Miniatures, Page:19

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

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

[4] Strong. Roy, Gloriana The Portrait of Queen Elizabeth, Pimlico 2003, page 52

[5] BBC History Magazine, A New Face for The Virgin Queen, June 2008, Page 46-49


Anne Boleyn – NPG 668

Anne Boleyn
NPG 668
Oil on Oak Panel
21 3/8 x 16 3/8 inches
©The National Portrait Gallery

NPG 668 is arguably the most famous portrait of Anne Boleyn that derives from the B Pattern.  Once acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, London this image has continuously been reproduced in books, magazines, movies and even on the occasional t-towel and cushion.  This portrait has become an icon in its own right, to many individuals across the globe, it has become a symbol of British history.

During my last visit to the National Portrait Gallery, I spent approximately forty-five minutes stood in front of NPG 688, listening, and observing what other visitors had to say about the image.  It was only during this visit that I first became aware of the power the painting appears to hold over people.  NPG 668 as an historical artifact is a bit of an enigma, a view into the past that inspires debate which, as yet, has not been truly resolved.  Some believe that the portrait depicts the true identity of one of King Henry VIII’s most famous queens, whilst others were noted to discuss the fact that no known portrait of Anne exists and that this particular copy was painted after her death, so therefore must be a made up image and cannot be relied on.  The National Portrait Gallery themselves note that the portrait was ‘based on a work of circa 1533-1536, when Anne was Queen’, however have produced little documentary evidence to back this theory up.[1] 

Object Description:

The painting is executed in oil on a wooden panel.  Two vertical panels have been used to construct the support on which the image is painted on and the portrait measures in whole 21 3/8 x 16 3/8 inches.   The painting depicts the head and torso of an adult female who appears before a plain green background.  She is turned slightly to the viewers left, though her eyes engage the viewer directly.  Her face is oval in shape, with a high forehead.  Her hair is brown in colour, appears straight, and is worn parted in the centre of the crown and pulled back over her ears and under her headwear.  Her eyes are brown in colour and her eyebrows are thin and arched.  The nose is straight with a high bridge and her lips are small and thin. 

The sitter’s costume includes a French hood, ending just below the jawline.  This is constructed with the use of black fabric that includes the use of an upper and lower billiment of pearls.  A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back and under this the sitter wears a gold coif.  At her neck she wears two strings of pearls with a large letter B pendant of goldsmith work and three hanging pearls suspended from the upper necklace.  A gold chain is also seen at the neck, that falls and disappears into the front of the sitter’s bodice.  The gown itself is constructed of a black fabric, cut squared at the neck and a chemise, embroidered with blackwork protrudes along the entire bodice margin. Large brown fur sleeves can be seen at the bottom edge of the panel.  

An inscription across the top of the panel identifies the sitter as ANNA BOLINA VXOR HENRI. OCTA otherwise translated Anna Bolina, wife of Henry 8.  The inscription has been heavily restored over the course of time and the first two letter of ‘Anna’ have been entirely repainted when a twenty-centimetre addition was added to the left-hand side of the panel.

Recent photographs showing the reverse of the painting indicate that there are no labels or other inscriptions located on the back of the panel surface. During conservation work on the portrait in 1967, it was identified that the surface of the wooden panel had been thinned down at some point during its history and any inscription would have been removed during this process.[2]

Artist Attribution:

Documented as unknown English Artist.

Provenance:

Little information is known regarding the portrait’s early provenance. It was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1882, from the Reynolds Gallery.  No information concerning the portraits provenance prior to the sale was provided and no other information regarding the history of this painting has been located during modern research. The portrait has been on public display at the National Portrait Gallery since its purchase and has only briefly left its walls to undergo conservation work or to be included in other temporary exhibitions across the globe.

Discussion:

This portrait, of all the others associated with the B Pattern has certainly been subject to the most scientific investigation.  Museums and galleries around the world can use several techniques on a painting to identify information such as date of creation, origin and the techniques and sequencing used by the artist to create it.  Several of these techniques have taken place on NPG 668 and a large amount of information has already been documented regarding the gallery’s findings. Due to the fact that of all the paintings associated with the B-Pattern, NPG 668 is the portrait that has undergone the most scientific investigations I have opted to take a fresh look at what we know about this portrait, so far.  

As highlighted above, the portrait was examined in 1967, where it was noted to be in a rather bad state of preservation.  An early photographic image taken of the portrait during this period identifies that the panel surface contained a large vertical crack down the right-hand side. [3]

NPG 668 Prior to 1967
© National Portrait Gallery

This is not uncommon in portraits that have a history of approximately four hundred and fifty years behind them.  The damp climate of the British Isles has taken its toll on many of our historical images painted on wood.  Most have succumbed to clumsy restoration techniques of past generations; structural renovations, overpainting, excessive cleaning and often the panel surface itself has expanded and contracted during time which results in the paint layers becoming weakened. Today, very few portraits painted on a wooden support cannot be described as being in an immaculate state of preservation. 

In an attempt to strengthen the fragile panel of NPG 668, a cradle support was added to the back of the panel surface in 1967.  During a recent examination of the panel as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Making Art in Tudor Britain’ project, it was established that the cradle added was now having a dramatic impact on the portraits condition.  

A fundraising campaign was established by the gallery to help raise the money to stabilise the historic portrait and due to the generosity of public donor’s, conservation work began in the autumn of 2011.[4]  The cradle was removed from the back of the panel allowing the portrait to sit in its natural warped position.  Splits in the panel surface were secured and filled with a conservation adhesive and filler.  A specially designed frame was also constructed to allow the portrait to sit in its natural position when exhibited to enable the public to view the portrait without causing further damage to its support.

Due to the removal of the wooden cradle, dendrochronological testing took place on the portrait in 2012. A previous attempt had been made in 2010, however, the thick wooden cradle attached to the back of the panel made this awkward to complete and an accurate date was unable to be obtained.  On completion of the 2012 tests, it was established that NPG 668 was painted no earlier than 1584, confirming the theory that this copy was indeed a later copy and was probably produced as part of a larger set of paintings.[5]  

NPG 668 has also undergone x-radiography and infrared reflectography.  Both these techniques are used by The National Portrait Gallery to see under the painted surface, identify possible changes in composition and reveal underdrawings produced by the artist prior to the painting process.  Images taken during the infrared reflectography show the B Pattern in all its glory. It was established that the artist who created NPG 668 used a pattern to transferer a pre-existing image of Anne onto the panel prior to painting the portrait.  The graphite under drawing can clearly be seen in the image below and this closely follows the painted outline of the subsequent layers.   Some minor adjustments to the outline of the sitter’s face and shoulders have been made during the painting process however the physical features of the sitter’s face have been followed exactly.

Infrared Reflectography Image of NPG 668
©National Portrait Gallery

To truly understand the demand for Anne’s image and the evolution and use of the B Pattern we first need to understand the complex matter of portrait sets within Tudor England. 

A large amount of information has been written over the course of time regarding sixteenth century art and the production of portraits by some of the more famous artists working within the Royal court and across Tudor England. However, very little information has been documented regarding some of the lesser-known artists who produced portraits sets on a large scale to meet the public demand for imagery.

One main reason for this lack of information is that very little is known and therefore not documented about some of the lesser-known artists and the work produced by them. In the past, most portrait sets produced by some of these lesser-known artists have unfortunately been branded as poor quality with little historical significance.  Museums and galleries around the world have only recently started to take these portraits seriously and use modern technology to truly understand some of the works of art created on a mass scale to fulfil a high demand from Tudor society.

The wooden panel portraiture created in Tudor England that we view today in galleries and country houses across the globe formed a small part of the visual artifacts viewed by the men and women who lived in sixteenth century England.  Houses of the rich and elite members of society were filled with tapestries, painted cloths, and furnishings depicting imagery of some kind.  Clothes, books, and jewellery also became more prominent during the sixteenth century and were also filled with images of significance to the individual who may have commissioned them.  The use and demand for visual imagery did not only exist within domestic settings but town halls, schools and colleges across England were filled with portrait images of political and state figures from history and reformers of the protestant faith.  Art was not only used for decoration purposes but could also be used to demonstrate an individual’s commitment to a specific cause.

From the beginning of the sixteenth century there appears to have been a keen interest for information concerning historical events from the past.  Several plays, ballads, pamphlets, and published works were created throughout this century documenting the stories of either historical royal figures or famous contemporary individuals who had made their mark on history.  With this also came the demand for images of some of the figures promoted.[6]

One of the earliest examples of historical printed text from the sixteenth century is Robert Fabyan’s The New Chronicles of England and France. This book details events from the legendary arrival of Brutus of Troy to the death of King Henry VII and was first published in 1516. The book was subsequently republished in 1533, 1542 and 1559 demonstrating the high demand for the subject. In 1563, John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments was first published in England detailing the stories of men and women from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century who were martyred for their faith. [7]

By the end of the sixteenth century and beginning of the seventeenth century plays about historical figures such as those written by William Shakespeare, were being staged in both the Royal Court and playhouses.   Books containing engraved portraits of historical figures started to appear and in 1597 Thomas Tablot’s “Booke Containing the True Portraiture of the Kings of England” was printed followed by Henry Holland’s “Baziliologia” in 1618 and his “Herowlogia Anglica” two years later.  All three books contained many engraved images of Kings, Queens, and prominent figures from the sixteenth century which had been claimed by the authors to be based on authentic likenesses.[8]

Holland’s “Baziliologia” did contain an engraved portrait depicting Anne Boleyn, however this was not based on the B-Pattern which would have been a relatively common image by 1618 and much debate has taken place over the authenticity of this image.  The “Baziliologia” engraving of Anne does look remarkably similar to a depiction of Jane Seymore from the Whitehall mural, by Hans Holbein.  Several other engravings produced in Holland’s book’s such as the well-known Van da Passe engraving of Lady Jane Grey have also now been proven to be based on portraits of other sitters, so we do need to air on the side of caution when it comes to this particular engraving of Anne.

Portrait sets depicting Kings and Queens of England survive today, however the majority have been broken up and only a small amount survive in some sort of entirety.  Anne Boleyn was generally one of three of King Henry VIII’s queens depicted within sets of English monarchs and their consorts along with Katherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour. These three wives were included in the sets because they all produced a child during their marriage and therefore a future monarch.  Anne herself was Queen Mother to the reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth I and although Anne’s marriage was never officially legitimised during the reign of her daughter her image was often included within portrait sets and Elizabeth herself, does appear to have acknowledged both her parents within her own iconography during her long reign.

Many portraits depicting Anne which where once part of a larger set and derive from what I refer to as the B Pattern, survive in public and private collections around the world.  Today, those that have been published and are well known to us have often been grouped together and referred to as “posthumous” dating to “the later period of the sixteenth century”[9]  

When creating portrait sets, artists appear to have gone to every effort in attempts to locate written descriptions, previous portraits, illustrations, and effigies to support them to create panel portraits of individuals both past and present.  We know for example that the many later portrait patterns depicting Elizabeth of York was based on another painting which was probably painted from life currently held in the Royal Collection.

Elizabeth of York
RCIN 403447
Oil on Panel
© Royal Collection Trust

Initially, the Royal Collection portrait was thought to date to the late sixteenth century, however current research has identified that this portrait may have been painted in the late fifteenth century.[10] Subsequent copies of this portrait indicate that a pattern was created and used by workshops when producing further copies.  A large majority of the surviving copies all show the same characteristics, brown eyes, light red hair, pale complexion, and a red gown with ermine trim. This suggest that the patterns created also contained notes or visual reminders for the artists of how the final portrait should be finished, much like the provisional drawings produced by Hans Holbein for some of his major works.

One perfect example of an early portraits set is a small group of portraits again held within the royal collection.  These painting’s depict King Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III and all are of similar format and size and include the characteristic red demask background.

Initially, as seen with the portrait of Elizabeth of York these painting’s where again thought to date to the latter half of the sixteenth century.  Recent dendrochronology testing has identified that all three paintings were actually constructed from the same tree which was cut down no earlier than 1504.  This once again demonstrates the importance of modern technology within the world of art history and the possibility that some of the portraits created for the use of sets could date to an earlier period than initially thought.[11]

When looking at the surviving portraits depicting Anne Boleyn, two specific portrait patterns begin to emerge. The first is the bust length pattern seen in NPG 668, NGI.549 and the Rosse Portrait.

The second is a pattern that has been slightly extended to incorporate Anne’s hands and a rose which can be seen in the alternative version on display at Hever Castle, the Radclyffe portrait and the Shindler portrait.  Multiple copies of both patterns survive today, however paintings derived from the second pattern appears to be scarcer than that of the first.

Only a small amount of the portraits depicting Anne have undergone dendrochnology testing to establish an accurate date of creation.  Some can easily be dismissed as later copies, produced during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  A large proportion of the portraits depicting Anne remain untested which makes it difficult to determine what order of dates each portrait was produced and the possibility that one of the portraits may be an earlier copy possibly painted from life.

Unfortunately, to date, I have been unable to locate any written documentation relating to the production of a portrait of Anne Boleyn during her actual lifetime. There does appear to be a number of sixteenth century references regarding the use and collection of her image after her death.  Unfortunately, these references are vague, and it is hard to distinguish if any of these portraits were in fact an authentic image or one of the many portraits based on the B pattern that where apparently created at a later period.

The first reference to an image of Anne dates from 1559, and is taken from several written descriptions regarding the events that took place during the coronation of Anne’s daughter Queen Elizabeth I.  All descriptions refer to a large stage being built and used as part of the pageant at the upper end of Gracechurch Street.  It appears that this stage was designed to represent Queen Elizabeth I’s lineage and not only included an image of her royal grandparents King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York but also an image representing her father and mother King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  Unfortunately, these descriptions provide little detail as to what the images of the figures looked like, however, they do provide evidence that there was, at least, a recognisable image of Anne in 1559.[12]

The second reference is taken from 1577 and is listed within an inventory of the possessions of Archbishop Matthew Parker at the time of his death at Lambeth Palace.  The inventory lists thousands of items within the palace including a portrait of “Quene Anne Bolleyn” displayed in the gallery. Matthew Parker was in fact Anne’s personal Chaplain and it would be difficult to believe that an individual who was such a close associate of Anne would have owned a portrait that was not a reasonable likeness of her.[13] 

The third and probably most famous reference comes from a collection of inventories documenting the extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and books collected by the 1st Baron of Lumley (John Lumley 1533-1609).  Lumley’s collection consisted of over one hundred and ninety portraits scattered across his residences of Lumley Castle, Nonsuch Palace and Harts Street. His walls were not only hung with paintings of family members, but portraits of royals and nobilities demonstrating a list of who’s who, in England.  In an inventory made in 1590 there is a reference to a portrait of “Queen Anne Bulleyne.” As the portrait is listed among other portraits described as “Statuary” we may then presume that the painting was in fact full-length as portraits of half-length or small in size are referred to as “scantling.”[14]  Upon John Lumley’s death some of his collection passed to his nephew Thomas Howard Earl of Arundel though the vast amount remained at Lumley Castle were the collection eventually passed to the Earls of Scarborough.  Some of the collection was subsequently sold through auction in 1785 and 1807, however no portrait of Anne Boleyn is listed among the entries for either auction, and this particular portrait remains lost today.[15]

As this article demonstrates the use of modern technology is now answering some of the unanswered questions regarding the production and use of portrait sets from Tudor England.  We are now finally starting to get a good understanding of the techniques and processes used to create these images. From the references discussed above regarding the use of Anne’s image we can see that there was at least some sort of recognisable image of Anne Boleyn used from 1557 onwards.   It would certainly be of high interest to locate all surviving examples of the B Pattern and have them undergo some of the testing which has taken place on NPG 668.  Modern science will enable us to identify once and for all what order these images came in and if there is any possibility that one may be a life portrait.   


[1] The National Portrait Gallery, https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw00142/Anne-Boleyn?LinkID=mp00109&search=sas&sText=anne+boleyn&role=sit&rNo=0 accessed September 2020

[2] Heinz Archive, London, Object File NPG668. Further information on conservation assessment and treatment which has taken place on this portrait can be located in this file.

[3] My sincere thanks to Roland Hui for providing me with a copy of this image.

[4] https://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/making-art-in-tudor-britain/case-studies/conservation-treatment-of-a-portrait-of-anne-boleyn accessed September 2020

[5] Heinz Archive, London, Object File NPG668

[6] For further information see: Woolf. Daniel, R, The circulation of the Past: England’s Historical Culture 1500-1730, Oxford University Press, 2003

[7] Ellis. Henry, The New Chronicles of England and France in Two Parts by Robert Fabyan, London, 1811 page: xiii–xviii

[8]Hind M Arthur, Engravings in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 1955

[9] Mould. Philip LTD, Lost Faces Identity and Discovery in Tudor Royal Portraiture,2007, Page. 59

[10] Tyers. Ian, Tree-ring Analysis of Panel Painting from the Ryal Collection, Dendrochronology Consultancy Ltd, January 2013

[11] Tyers. Ian, Tree-ring Analysis of Panel Painting from the Ryal Collection, Dendrochronology Consultancy Ltd, January 2013

[12] I am grateful for the fantastic research into these descriptions produced and published by Natalie Grueninger at Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I’s Coronation (onthetudortrail.com), accessed January 2021

[13] Archaeologia of Miscellaneous Tracts, Society of Antiquaries of London, 1844, Vol XXX, Page. 11

[14] Walpole Society, Vol I, 1918, Page.21

[15]The Getty provenance database,  http://piprod.getty.edu/starweb/pi/servlet.starweb

The Twitter Portrait – Is It Lady Jane Grey?

In the autumn of 2020, a rather interesting photographic image of a portrait appeared on social media.  The photograph was originally posted as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey on the website of the restoration company Fine Art Conservation, Columbia.  Sadly, the actual image did not show the portrait in its entirety but was a detailed shot showing the neck and chin area of the sitter before and after restoration work had taken place.[1]

Detail Image
Before and After Restoration
©Fine Arts Conservation, Columbia

On seeing this image, I instantly became intrigued:  firstly, because this was a portrait that had gone unnoticed by myself and others who have studied the iconography of Lady Jane Grey. Secondly, because the brief glimpse that we had been given initially filled me with a little hope that this painting may indeed be an authentic likeness or one of the many lost portrait that have been associated with Jane in the past.  

I immediately contacted the restoration company and requested further information and a photographic image of the full portrait.  The company responded quickly and informed me that due to client confidentiality they were unfortunately unable to fulfil my request.

Thankfully, I did not have to wait long before an image of the full portrait appeared on the social networking site Twitter.  The tweet displayed an image of the painting in its unrestored state and reported that the portrait had been associated with the sixteenth century artist William Scrots. The writer also raised questions as to who the sitter in this painting could possibly be.  It was very quickly identified that the portrait posted on Twitter matched the portrait displayed on the Restoration company’s website claiming to depict Lady Jane Grey.

Unknown Lady
Oil on Oval Panel
22 1/6 x 17 1/8 inches
©Private Collection

As seen from the image of the portrait it depicts a female, painted above the waist, before a plain dark background.  The sitter is facing the viewer’s left and has brown eyes and a rather large flat nose.  Her hair is brown in colour and is parted in the centre.  On her head she wears a French hood of white fabric over a coif cap.  The hood is constructed with both upper and lower billiaments of goldsmith work and a black veil is also seen hanging down behind the sitter.  Her costume is constructed of a plain black fabric and the bodice of her dress is cut square at the neckline.  Under this, the sitter wears a high-necked chemise of a white fine fabric, with a small frill at the collar.  The chemise has been embroidered with the use of gold and black thread.  Around her neck, she wears a long gold chain that hangs down the front of her bodice and an open partlet with a convex edge is worn over the shoulders.    

So, the question is, could this portrait possibly depict Lady Jane Grey? My initial thought was that the Twitter portrait could possibly be one of the lost portraits supposed to depict Lady Jane Grey.  One particular portrait that has not yet, been located is known as the Handford Portrait.  This was exhibited in the Old Masters Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1880.  A detailed description of the Handford portrait is provided in the catalogue for the exhibition and identifies that the sitter does indeed wears a ‘black dress trimmed with gold and a gold chain around her neck’.  The description of the Handford portrait also refers to ‘a gold chain at the waist and the hands clasped in front’.  Since the girdle chain and sitter’s hands are mentioned in this description and do not appear in the Twitter portrait, we must then presume that the Twitter portrait is a separate painting altogether.[2]

When it comes to the iconography of Lady Jane Grey I am always a little sceptical with just accepting an individual’s word that a portrait does in fact depict her. We have seen with many other portrait’s associated as depicting her that the majority have turned out to be doubtful and have only been associated with Jane Grey due to the high public demand for her image and a possible connection in the symbolism or the plain costume depicted.

To attempt to establish if there is any possible connection to Jane Grey, I feel we need to look at the provenance connected to the Twitter portrait. Due to the events of 2020, I have had limited access to the archives, galleries and museums that may hold some of this information.  The first written documentation I have located for this painting is an auction catalogue from 1989.  The portrait was sold on 14th April at Christie’s Auction House London and appeared as lot number 98 in the sale.  The catalogue lists the portrait as an ‘unknown lady’ and associates its creator to William Scrots.  There is no record of the portrait’s provenance or any previous association with Lady Jane Grey discussed as part of the description for this lot.

The catalogue description does mention that ‘Sir Roy Strong attributes this portrait to the same hand as that of the portraits of King Edward VI and Princess Elizabeth in the Royal Collection’. Christie’s reference Roy Strong’s book The English Icon Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, published in 1969 as the source of their information.[3]

Edward VI
Associated with William Scrots
©Royal Collection
Elizabeth When Princess
Associated with William Scrots
©Royal Collection

William Scrots did indeed work at the English Royal court and records detailing payments for his service can be traced up until the death of King Edward VI. It is not exactly known what happened to him after 1553, however, it is traditionally thought that he left England or died. [4]

As stated in the auction catalogue, the two portraits held in the Royal Collection are associated with the hand of William Scrots.  Both portraits, appear to be of a finer quality and contain remarkable detail in the facial features and costumes than that seen in the Twitter portrait. If Sir Roy Strong did indeed come to the conclusion that the Twitter portrait was also by the same hand, then it is hard to see how. It also appears that the auction house may have their sources muddled slightly, as there is no mention of the Twitter portrait or its association with William Scrots in Roy Strong’s book The English Icon.   From the Price list detailing the items sold at the Christie’s sale, the Twitter portrait appears to have been unsold and it was highly likely returned to its anonymous owner.

On seeing the photographic image of the full portrait, I instantly doubted the association with William Scrots as the portrait reminded me of the work of Pieter Pourbus, an artist working in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century. The over partlet, worn around the sitter’s shoulders has the distinctive convex shape to the bottom edge and is worn open at the front and pinned to the bodice.  This is not consistent with the square, box shaped partlet’s worn closed at the front to create a fashionable V-shaped collar worn by English ladies of the 1550’s.  This style of the partlet seen in the Twitter portrait is more consistent with the style of partlets worn in the Netherlands and is depicted in many of the portraits or female sitters painted by Pieter Pourbus.

Pieter Pourbus
Portrait of a Young Women
Oil on Panel
©Public Domain
Pieter Pourbus
Portrait of Jacquemyne Buuck
©Public Domain

The Twitter portrait appears again in 2010, when it was sold as part of a sale on 7th July at Bonhams Auction House London.  The catalogue for this sale refers to the sitter once again as ‘a portrait of a Lady’, however, by 2010 the artist association had been changed from William Scrots to Netherlandish School.  Once again, this sale does not mention any previous association with Lady Jane Grey in the catalogue listing and the portrait eventually sold for £18.000.[5]

In conclusion I am unable to find any connection to Lady Jane Grey recorded in any of the documentation related to this portrait. I find it hard to believe that if the portrait had been auctioned along with documentation connecting Jane as a possible sitter then why did the auction houses not mention this in the auction details provided and merely referred to the sitter as  ‘An Unknown Lady’.

As discussed above and in my opinion, I am inclined to agree with Bonham’s Auctions that the portrait was possibly created in the Netherlands and not England. The modern provenance related to this painting suggests that the portrait was identified as Jane Grey after it was last sold in 2010 and may just be an association made by the current owner themselves.  I would be very interested to here from the current owner of this portrait in the hope that further information that may have come along with the portrait may solve this riddle once and for all. 


[1] Painting Conservation and Art Collections Management (fineartconservationsunshinecoast.ca) accessed 20.11.2020

[2] Royal Academy of Arts, Old Masters Exhibition, 1880, page 32

[3] Christie’s Auction House, Important British Pictures, Friday 14th April 1987, Page 152-153

[4] Gaunt, William. Court Painting in England. London: Constable, 1980

[5] Bonhams Auctions, Old Master Paintings, 7th July 2010, Lot 3




The Lyndhurst Portrait

Anne Boleyn
Oil on Panel
22 ½ x 17 inches
©National Trust for Historic Preservation

Object Description:

This painting is executed in oil on a wooden panel and measures in whole 22 ½ x 17 inches.   The painting depicts the head and upper torso of an adult female who appears before a plain brown background.  The sitter is placed behind a red cushion or cloth that has been embroidered with the use of gold thread.  She is turned slightly to the viewers left. 

Her face is oval, with a high forehead.  Her hair is brown in colour, appears straight, and is worn parted in the centre of the crown and pulled back over her ears and under her coif.  Her eyes are brown in colour and her eyebrows are thin and arched.  The nose is slightly arched with a high bridge and her lips are small and thin.  The use of a pink tone has been added to the sitter’s cheekbones and bridge of her nose. 

The sitter’s costume includes a French hood, ending just below the jawline.  This is constructed of black fabric that includes the use of an upper and lower billiment of pearls; thirty-four pearls can be seen in the lower billiament and forty-three pearls have been depicted on the upper billiment.  A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back of the hood and under this the sitter wears a gold coif.  At her neck she wears two strings of pearls with a large letter B pendant of goldsmith work with three hanging pearls suspended from the upper necklace.  A gold chain constructed of circular loops is also seen at the neck, which falls and disappears into the front of the sitter’s bodice.  The gown itself is constructed of a black fabric, cut square at the neck and a chemise, embroidered with blackwork protrudes along the entire bodice margin. The hint of a kirtle made of brown fabric and embellished with forty-six pearls and twenty-two buttons of goldsmith work is also seen around the neckline of the bodice.  Large brown fur sleeves can be seen at the bottom edge of the panel. 

Inscription:

An inscription applied across the top of the panel in a bright yellow pigment identifies the sitter as ANNA REGINA VXOR 2A H 8 or Anna Queen, 2nd wife of Henry 8.

Detail Showing Inscription

Labels and other inscriptions:

A typed label has been applied to the reverse of the panel which reads

 ‘1236 Portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn/ by a Netherlands Master/ of the 16th century/ Stamped seal on back reads/ [  ] chutz. [ ] Zentrelstello [ ]/ Label on back reads/ Invent No. 1236 Preis 712007/ Anne Boleyn/ Von Johennes Corvus, Eng. ad. 1520/ Gutachten Von.’

Artist Association:

The label attached to the reverse of the panel associates the Flemish born painter Johannes Corvus as the artist who created the Lyndhurst portrait.  Born in 1490, Corvus is documented as working in England in the 1520’s and in France. He died in 1545 and a small number of works associated with him are still in collections today.[1]

Condition:

From the high-resolution photograph provided, the panel support appears to be in rather good condition.  The painted surface of the portrait does have some minor paint loss to the face, costume and background and the layer of varnish has discoloured over time.  The painting sits within a frame of moulded gilt with painted geometric designs, this in turn sits within a larger frame of painted wood and red velvet.   

Provenance Information:

The Lyndhurst portrait was purchased on June 7th, 1940 by Anna Gould, Duchess of Talleyrand-Perigord from the Meredith Galleries.  A copy of the bill of sale, recording the purchase of this painting and detailing the amount paid is currently held among the documents in the Lyndhurst archive.[2] 

Anna inherited the Lyndhurst estate on the death of her sister in 1938, however only maintained the estate as a country home and opted to live primarily at a hotel in New York.  Anna died in 1961 and bequeathed the Lyndhurst estate and the portrait to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The Lyndhurst portrait of Anne Boleyn can now be seen today in the Star Bedroom on the second floor of the house. 

Discussion:

Two potential portraits of significance to the Lyndhurst portrait of Anne Boleyn are a portrait of Catherine of Aragon recently sold by the Philip Mould Gallery and another of Jane Seymour currently held in the collection of Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco. 

Catherine of Aragon
Oil on Panel
© Private Collection
Jane Seymour
Oil on Panel
© Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco

Both these portraits appear to have once belonged to part of a larger set of paintings and stylistically both show the naive painting style seen in the Lyndhurst portrait.  All three sitters are seen in an identical composition and are placed behind the embroidered cloth and depicted in front of a plain background.  The portrait of Jane Seymour appears to have been overpainted at some point during its history, however, both paintings have been associated with the artists Johannes Corvus in the past.

All three paintings would benefit from some scientific investigation to a establish a date of creation, origin, and the possible connection that they were all created by the same artist as part of a larger set of portraits depicting King Henry VIII queens. 

A further interesting aspect of the Lyndhurst portrait is the pattern used to create it.  This appears to be almost identical to another portrait of Anne Boleyn sold by the Howard Young Galleries.  The Howard portrait is also painted on panel and is of identical measurements to the Lyndhurst portrait. Unfortunately, this copy has vanished from public record and has not been seen since it was last photographed in 1926.  

Anne Boleyn
Oil on Panel
22 ½ x 17 inches
©National Trust for Historic Preservation
Anne Boleyn
Oil on Panel
22 ½ x 17 inches
© Frick Art Reference Library, New York
Howard Young Inscription Detail
Enhanced Image of Howard Portrait Inscription showing faint letter ‘A’ above the number 2

A detailed photographic image of the Howard portrait is now held in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York.  From this image, we can see that both paintings contain an identical inscription and the composition of the sitter is also identical.  The Howard portrait does appear to have been painted by a more skilled artist than the artist who produced the Lyndhurst portrait, however, this cannot be known for certain until the Howard portrait is located. [3]

There are two possible theories to explain the similarities between both of these portraits.  The first is, that both are separate paintings, painted with the use of an identical pattern that was applied to the panel surface, by the artist, prior to painting.

The second theory is that the Lyndhurst portrait is, in fact, the Howard Portrait which had been heavily overpainted before 1926, when photographed by the Howard Young Galleries.  The photograph itself does suggest that an element of overpainting work has been completed, specifically, on the background.  As seen in the magnified image below, a thick black line can be seen between the edge of Anne’s French hood and the lighter background colour. This suggests that the original background colour of this portrait may possibly have been darker in colour and closer to that seen the Lyndhurst version.

Howard Young-Detail

It is possible that the Lyndhurst portrait may have undergone some restoration and cleaning work in an effort to return it back to its original painted surface prior to the portrait being purchased by the Meredith Gallery and subsequently selling it to Anna Gould. 

Email communication with Lyndhurst has confirmed that their portrait has not undergone any conservation work since it was bequeathed to the Trust in 1961.[4]  As discussed above, the Howard Young Portrait has vanished from public record. I have conducted a thorough search, in an attempt to locate the current whereabouts of this version, however, I have been unable to uncover any documentation concerning this portrait after 1926, when it was photographed by the gallery.

Until the lost Howard Young portrait reappears, I am currently in favour of the second theory being the most plausible one.


[1] Campbell. Gordon, The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance, Oxford University Press, 2003

[2] Email communication between the author and Specialist Project Assistant, dated 18th May 2020

[3] Frick Art Reference Library, Holbein the Younger, Hans 622-12h, accessed May 2020

[4] Email communication between the author and Specialist Project Assistant, dated 17th September 2020

The B Pattern: The Belmont Portrait

The Belmont Portrait
Anne Boleyn
Oil on Wooden Panel
20 x 14 ½ inches
©The Frick Art Reference Library, New York

The Belmont Portrait is one of the more vague and seldom seen images of Anne Boleyn based on the B Pattern.  This specific portrait is named in this study after one of its documented owners and as far as I am aware, it has never before been published, nor has it ever been exhibited in any gallery or museum. 

The portraits existence is purely known through a selection of old black and white images held in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York.  This is probably the first ever effort to study this painting and its connection to other portraits utilising the B Pattern in a scholarly manner.

Object Description:

The painting is executed in oil on a wooden panel and measures 20 x 14 ½ inches.   The portrait depicts the head and upper torso of an adult female who appears before a plain dark background.  She is turned slightly to the viewers left, though her eyes engage the viewer directly.  Her face is oval in shape, with a high forehead.  Her hair is dark in colour, appears straight, and is worn parted in the centre of the crown and pulled back over her ears and under her headwear.  Her eyes appear dark in colour and her eyebrows are thin and arched.  The nose is straight with a high bridge and her lips are small and thin. 

The sitter’s costume includes a French hood, ending just below the jawline.  This is constructed with the use of black fabric that includes the use of an upper and lower billiment of pearls.  A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back.  At her neck she wears two strings of pearls with a large letter B pendant of goldsmith work and three hanging pearls suspended from the upper necklace.  A gold chain is also seen at the neck, that falls and disappears into the front of the sitter’s bodice.  The gown itself is constructed of a dark fabric with what appears to be the hint of large fur sleeves, seen at the bottom edges of the portrait.  The upper edge of the bodice is cut squared and a chemise, embroidered with blackwork protrudes along the entire bodice margin.  

There are no identifying inscriptions readily visible on the painted surface and no photograph of the reverse of the painting is available.

Artist Attribution:

Documented as Flemish School

Provenance:

As highlighted above, very little is known regarding the early provenance for this particular portrait.  An information sheet, stored along with the old photographic images in the Frick Library does inform us that the portrait was once in the collection of a Mrs Belmont and that it was purchased form her by a Malcom Sands Wilson of New York.  It is also recorded that the old black and white photographic images of this portrait were acquired for the Frick Collection in the April of 1936 form Mrs Belmont.

Discussion:

This portrait’s current location remains unknown, at this point in time.  As far as I am aware the painting has not undergone any scientific investigation to establish a date of production or place of origin, so no precise date can be documented.  From the records held in the Frick Collection it does appear that the painting was deemed significant enough to undergo some restoration techniques.[1]  The restoration work was completed by William Hisgrove of New York in 1936 and a photographic image which was taken of the portrait before this took place clearly shows the that later overpaint, and old varnish was removed were removed during this process.  This suggests that the portrait was possibly of a significant age when the restoration work was completed.

The Belmont Portrait
Prior to Restoration Work
©The Frick Art Reference Library, New York

In my opinion, what is significant about the Belmont Portrait it that, of the many copies related to the B pattern, this, is probably the closest in comparison to the portrait in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London. 

This copy, Known as NPG668, was purchased by the Gallery in 1882 and will be discussed in later part of this study.[2]  All portrait relating to the B pattern have significant differences in the finer details which are applied by the artist. Though slightly bigger in size, the facial feature seen in NPG668 are noticeably similar to those depicted in the Belmont Copy.  The blackwork design depicted on the chemise, worn under the sitter’s bodice is also depicted in an identical manner.

It is my opinion that, the Belmont portrait is of significant interest, due to it similarities to NPG668.  It would certainly be interesting if The National Portrait Gallery where able to locate the Belmont paintings current whereabouts and attempt to clarify if indeed there is any possible connection between the two portraits.      


[1]Frick Art Reference Library, New York, https://arcade.nyarc.org/record=b1512889~S1, accessed August 2020

[2] See NPG668 Object File for More information.

New Project Announcement!

Anne Boleyn: The B Pattern

Introduction:

Anne Boleyn was the second Queen of Henry VIII, she was executed in 1536, and she is arguably one of the more popular figures in Tudor history today.  Similar to Lady Jane Grey, many portraits have been associated with Anne’s name over the course of time.  None have produced the documentation to conclusively prove an identification and Anne continues to go without a portrait painted from life to this day.

One of the most famous depictions of Anne is what I refer to as the B pattern. This image has been extensively reproduced in history books when discussing Anne’s story.   The B pattern depicts a lady wearing a black French Hood and a pearl necklace with a gold letter ‘B’ hanging from it.  All surviving portraits were probably produced as part of portrait sets illustrating Kings and Queens of England, but what I find interesting about these portrait’s, is, we know so little about them.

During the latter half of the sixteenth century it had become popular for ‘portrait sets’ to be produced.  These sets were often displayed in public places, in galleries, in homes across Tudor England and in some of the royal palaces occupied by the Monarch.  Portrait sets were not only produced to document historic figures, but also demonstrated loyalty to a specific cause.  As the mother of the Reigning Monarch, Elizabeth I, Anne was often depicted within the sets as the wife of Henry VIII. 

Portrait sets were created in workshops and required a lesser skilled artist than the Great Masters who were probably commissioned to paint the original, thus making them cheaper and more accessible to the individual living in Tudor England.  An image was often derived from a standard pattern of an individual, based on an existing image, description, engraving or in some circumstances a tomb effigy.  These could be used by the workshops to quickly trace the desired image on to a wooden panel so that the portrait could be produced as quickly and effectively as possible.[1]

A small number of portraits based on the B pattern and dated to the end of sixteenth century still exist today.  Some are in public galleries whilst others remain in private collections across the world.  Most of the individual portraits depicting Anne, first appear in documentation during the turn of the twentieth century, with little known regarding there provenance prior to this.   

The B pattern was most certainly accepted as an image of Anne Boleyn during the latter half of the sixteenth century.  As for what source it was based on, in truth, we do not really know today. The purpose of this study is to look at the surviving collection of portraits depicting Anne that derive from the B pattern.  In compiling this study, I hope to establish a better understanding about the production of ‘portrait sets’, and the use of Anne’s image. I hope to Look at each portrait as an individual, in the hope of establishing some sort of database of information concerning each portrait.  Where possible I will attempt to document information relating specifically to the date and provenance of each image in the hope of ascertaining more information and identifying a possible sequence in which the portraits were painted.      


[1] For more information on the production and use of portrait sets see: Daunt. Catherine, Portraits Sets in Tudor and Jacobean England, May 2015