a portrait of Mary Tudor when Princess on behalf of Queen Victoria during the
Christies sale on 24th May 1881, RCIN20944 has caused much debate
among art historians over the years. The
sitter has been identified as at least three different members of the royal
family from the Tudor period, and for around twenty-six years the sitter was
thought to be Lady Jane Grey. Two
artists have been associated with its creation, though no proof has surfaced to
establish a known creator. Due the
sitter once being identified as Lady Jane Grey, I have decided to discuss this
painting on this website.
RCIN420944 depicts a young lady facing full frontal, with grey eyes and light red hair. She wears a bodice of gold damask fabric cut square at the neck and a partlet of contrasting fabric with small figure-of-eight ruff that surrounds her face. A black loose gown with small puff sleeves and false hanging sleeves is also seen worn by the sitter and is fastened at the front with the use of gold aglets. The sitter wears two chains around her neck of goldsmith work and pearls, and suspended from one is a large jewel containing five square cut diamonds and a large hanging pearl. On her head she wears a hair net which again consists of goldsmith work, and a pink and white flower is also arranged within the sitter’s hair. She is depicted on a blue background within a gold boarder. The beginning of an inscription stating “AÑO” is also seen on the left-hand side.
known regarding the early provenance for this painting or how the image became
identified as a portrait of Mary Tudor when Princess. The first documented record concerning the
provenance of this portrait located to date is the sales catalogue for the
collector and poet Samuel Rogers.
Following his death in 1855, his vast collection of art and antiques were
sold as part of an eighteen-day sale commencing on 28th April 1856
at Messrs. Christie and Manson, St James Square. RCIN420944 was sold on the eighth day of sale
and is officially recorded in the catalogue as “lot 960. Princess Mary,
daughter of Henry VIII, after Holbein.”
was purchased by collector Charles Sackville Bale, who appears not to have
questioned the identity of the sitter or artist associated with it. An early photographic image of the portrait
appears in a book published in 1864 by Amelia B Edwards, and the portrait was
also submitted to The Miniature Portrait Exhibition of 1865 at the South Kensington
Museum. Both the book and exhibition
catalogue again refer to the portrait as “Queen Mary I of England, by Holbein,”
with the exhibition catalogue also noting that the portrait was purchased from
the collection of Samuel Rogers.
death of Charles Sackville Bale in 1880, the miniature sold from his collection
and entered the Royal Collection. The
auction took place on 24th May 1881 and again the miniature was
noted as “lot 1420 Mary Tudor, Queen of England, by H. Holbein”
within the catalogue for the sale.
of entering the Royal collection, the sitter’s identity and the artist
associated with its creation was challenged. Lady Jane
Grey was put forward as a possible candidate and the miniature would continue
to be described as a portrait of Jane for the next two decades.
written by Richard Holmes, librarian to Queen Victoria, and published in 1884
in the English Illustrated Magazine does give us some clues as to the reason
for the change of identification. This
article appears to be the first time the portrait was publicly published as an
image of Lady Jane Grey, and the article also included an engraving of the
painting noting Jane as the sitter in its title. Holmes reports the reasons for the change in
identity as follows
“of the painters who must have worked in England between the
time of Holbein and Hillard, a capital specimen has within the last few years
been added to the number of royal portraits.
It is that of Lady Jane Grey, of which we give an engraving. It had passed for many years as a portrait of
princess, afterwards Queen Mary, but it is unlike her in every feature. That it represents a Tudor Princess is
undoubted, as in her hair are the red and white roses. It corresponds with all
that is known of the characteristics of the unfortunate Lady Jane, and fills an
important gap in the series of portraits of the Tudor Line”
What is interesting about the above statement is that Holmes
reports that the sitter depicted in the miniature was thought at that time to
correspond with all that was known of the characteristics of Lady Jane Grey. This then brings about the question as to
what was actually known about Jane’s characteristics at that time. This article
was written prior to the publication of Richard Davey’s biography on Jane in
1909, which contained the only detailed description of a small, freckled and
red haired, Jane Grey entering the Tower of London as Queen on 10th
July 1553, known to date. Today, this
description has been discovered to be a mere forgery. No other description documenting the details
of Jane’s features has surfaced, which suggest that almost nothing was known
regarding what Jane looked like, other than vague references referring to her
as pretty which were made at a later date.
The miniature portrait was
publicly exhibited in 1890 at the Royal House of Tudor Exhibition held
at the New Gallery, London. Within the
exhibition catalogue, the portrait is recorded as coming from the collection of
Her Majesty the Queen and referring to as “1068. Lady Jane Grey. By N.
Hilliard, formerly in the collection of Charles Sackville Bale.” It was probably around this point in time that a red leather label was attached to
the back of the frame noting that the sitter depicted was “Lady Jane Grey/Born
The portrait continued to be displayed as an image of Lady Jane
Grey and was Exhibited in the New Gallery exhibition of 1901 as a portrait of her. In 1906, Richard Holmes again discussed the
miniature in an article written for the Burlington Art Magazine on Nicholas
Lionel Cust, director of the National Portrait gallery,
London, appears to be the first to question the identification of Lady Jane
Grey as the sitter in RCIN420944. In
1910, he produced a privately printed catalogue for the Royal Collection
regarding the miniature portraits held within the Royal Palaces at that
time. In this, Cust dismisses the
identification of Jane Grey and suggests Elizabeth I as an alternative sitter,
noting that the miniature may have been produced by Levina Teerlinc and not
Nicholas Hilliard. Nothing is documented
in the book to inform us as to why Cust came to this conclusion, though it
would be tempting to speculate that he noted the costume worn by the sitter was
a little too late in period to be an authentic portrait of Lady Jane Grey.
The Identification of the sitter as Elizabeth was further strengthened
in 1962 when the Royal Collection purchased another miniature portrait similar
in composition and style to RCIN420944 at Christie’s auction. This miniature is recorded in the catalogue
for sale, taking place on April 10th at Christie’s auction house,
London, as “A Lady, probably Princess Elizabeth, Later Queen Elizabeth I.” A
description also noted that the miniature was painted on a playing card, and seen
on the reverse of is blind stamp consisting of the letter C and a Crown. 
This was immediately associated with a
description made in 1637 of a miniature portrait seen by Abraham Van der Doort,
Surveyor of the Kings Pictures and described in an inventory made of the
collection of King Charles I.
“Item don upon the right lighte in a white ivory box/ wthout
a Christall a Certaine Ladies Picture in her haire/ in a gold bone lace little ruff,
and black habbitt/ lined wth furr with goulden tissue sleeves/ with one hand
over another supposed to have bin/ Queen Elizabeth before shee came to the Crowne.
By an unknown hand”
Upon the purchase of the second miniature by the Royal
Collection, both were thought to depict the same individual. Due to the early Van der Doort description it
was therefore thought that both miniatures represented the young Queen
Elizabeth in the early years of her reign. Both images continue to be
catalogued as Elizabeth I today.
Author Roy Strong was noted not to include either miniature
in his 1963 book entitled Portrait of Queen Elizabeth. He was observed to briefly discuss them in the
1987 revised version Gloriana The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. When discussing both miniatures, he
interestingly notes that “of the two miniatures, one is more certainly of her
than the other.” It could be argued that both images depict
separate individuals rather than a portrait of the same person. There does appear to be significant
differences in the composition and costume worn by both individuals to identify
that one is not a direct copy of the other.
Whoever RCIN420944 depicts will continue to be debated among
art historians, but Lionel Cust was right back in 1910 to question the identity
of the sitter being Lady Jane Grey. There appears to be nothing within the
image to suggest that the portrait was painted of her, and no detailed
description survives today that tells us anything about what she looked
like. This image can now be removed from
any list of potential likenesses thought to depict her.
Messrs. Christies and Manson, Sales Catalogue, April 28th, 1856,
Page 90, lot 960
Christie’s, Sales Catalogue, 24th May 1881, Page 109, lot 1420
Holmes. Richard, The Royal Collection of Miniatures at Windsor Castle, English
Illustrated Magazine, July 1184
For more details on the new finding regarding Davey’s description of Jane see:
Edwards John, Queen of a New Invention, Old John Publishing, 2015, page 177 and
DeLisle. Leanda, Sisters Who Would Be Queen, Harper Press, 2008
Christie’s Sale Catalogue, 10th April 1962, Page 20
O’Donoghue,F.M, A Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of Portraits of Queen
Elizabeth , 1894, page 27, no 7
Strong. Roy, Gloriana The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, 1987, Page 55
Sold at Sotheby’s auction house, London, on 13th
September 1983 as lot 90, The Beaufort Miniature is one of the more recent
paintings to be sold with the sitter tentatively suggested to be Lady Jane
Grey. The painting is associated with
the artist Levina Teerlinc and is painted on vellum. The Sotheby’s sale
included a second miniature attributed to the same artist, and both were
formerly held in the collection of Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of
Before we study this miniature portrait in detail, we must
first examine the artist associated with it and determine whether Levina
Teerlinc would have had access to paint Lady Jane Grey. Born around 1510, Teerlinc was the daughter
of the famous Flemish illustrator Simon Benninck, and it is highly likely that
she was taught to paint by her father. By
1546, she was married, working, and living in England. Teerlinc was granted a salary of forty pounds
a year by Henry VIII, and she is documented as having worked for the English
crown until her death in 1576.
Teerlinc is a bit of an enigma. Artists of the sixteenth century, even those
with a large surviving output, are ordinarily not well documented today. But
the reverse is true of Teerlinc. The State Papers of four separate Tudor
monarchs include specific mention of her, yet no portrait reliably attributable
to her is known to have survived today.
In July 1983, a small number of miniature portraits were grouped together for the first time and exhibited as part of the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. All were painted between 1546-1576, or during the period between the deaths of both Hans Holbein and Lucas Hornebolte in the 1540’s and the rise of Nicolas Hillard in the 1570’s. All of the images were thought in 1983 to have been produced by Levina Teerlinc, though there is no surviving evidence to prove that assertion conclusively.  All of the miniatures do show some similarities in draughtsmanship. The sitters do all have rather large heads and stick-like arms, and some similarities in the brushwork were also noted, including the use of loose wash work to create the features. Since the completion of the exhibition, a number of other miniature portraits showing the same compositional mannerisms, including the Beaufort Miniature, have been sold at auction and have also been associated with Teerlinc.
Among the group of miniatures exhibited in the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered Exhibition and associated with Teerlinc is a portrait now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Purchased by the museum in June 1979, it is called Lady Katherine Grey due to an early inscription on the back that reads “The La Kathn Graye/wyfe of th’ Erle of/ Hertford”. If the identity of the sitter and artist associated with this painting is correct, then Teerlinc most certainly had access to Jane’s sister. Teerlinc is also documented as producing several images of Elizabeth, including receiving payment in 1551 for a portrait of her as princess. Susan James has also suggested that Teerlinc painted Catherine Parr, which suggests that Teerlinc came into contact with people that Jane would have known personally. There is the slight possibility that she might have come into contact with Jane herself.
The Beaufort Miniature depicts a young lady, seen to below the waist and facing the viewer’s left. Both hands are depicted in front, and she is holding a pair of gloves in her right hand, which has a ring on the fourth finger. On her head, she wears a French hood with both upper and lower billaments made up of goldsmith work and pearls. A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back. A black loose gown with a fur collar and fitted mutton leg sleeves is worn by the sitter. At her neck she wears a small ruff edged with gold thread. The sitter is depicted on a blue background with a gold border.
As discussed above, the miniature had previously been in the
collection of Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort.
In the auction catalogue at the time of
the sale, the lot was officially titled “An Important Married Lady at The Tudor
Court.” The suggestion that the sitter could possibly be Lady Jane Grey was
made within the description that accompanied the lot. The catalogue reported similarities in the
facial features of the sitter depicted in the Beaufort Miniature and the
miniature portrait of Lady Katherine Grey at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It
then went on to suggest Lady Jane Grey is the sitter and that the image was
“taken shortly before her death in 1554”. The catalogue did rightfully record that there
is no proof to back up this theory. A
second miniature also associated with Teerlinc and sold during the same auction
was similarly suggested to depict Jane Grey’s mother, Lady Frances Brandon.  When looking at the Beaufort miniature and
the other thought to depict Lady Katherine Grey side by side, there does appear
to be some similarities in the faces, but this cannot be used today as the sole
reason to identify a sitter within a painting.
There are other clues in the painting that give us some indication that
the sitter is not, in fact, Lady Jane Grey.
The ruff seen in the painting appears to be the only major datable aspect. The ruff was an essential part of the Tudor wardrobe by the mid sixteenth and early seventeenth century and was worn across Europe in a variety of styles. In the case of the Beaufort Miniature, we see an example from the early stages of the evolution of the ruffs. It appears to be attached to the sitter’s partlet rather than worn as a separate item that was starched and fixed in place, as was seen in later periods.
To trace the evolution of the ruff worn in Britain, we must first look at the fashion worn by ladies during the 1540’s. It was during this period that it became more favourable for ladies to cover the chest rather than the previous fashion of the chest being revealed by the low-cut French gowns. As seen in a portrait thought to depict Katherine Howard and now in the Royal Collection. This was achieved with the use of a partlet. Worn beneath the bodice and tied under the arms this would have been made from a fine fabric.
By the end of the 1540’s and early 1550’s, ladies continued to wear the partlet, however, this had developed slightly. Surviving portraits from this period show that the partlet continued to be constructed from a fine fabric similar to what would have been used to create the chemise, though this had been fitted with a neck band to create a small frill or collar. The addition of a second partlet known as an outer partlet made with a v-shaped collar of a contrasting fabric to the outer gown could also be worn over this.
By the mid 1550’s, the small frill seen at the neck had
again grown in size and had begun to surround the face, similar in style to
what is seen in the Beaufort Miniature. This
ruffle would eventually develop into the ruff seen in the later periods after
the 1560’s and would eventually become a separated from the partlet altogether. 
When compared to portraits painted during the later half of
the 1550’s, including one of an unknown lady in the collection of the
Fitzwilliam Museum dating to 1555 and another of Mary Neville in the National
Portrait Gallery dating to 1559 the Beaufort Miniature appears to sit in the
middle with the ruffle looking as though it is still attached to a partlet as
seen in the Fitzwilliam portrait and without the use of wire or starch to
create the defined figure of eight shape seen in the portrait of Mary Neville.
Though arguably there are some similarities in the facial
features of the Beaufort Miniature and the V&A miniature of Lady Katherine
Grey, this could be attributed to the artist’s style rather than to family resemblance.
It is my opinion that the sitter depicted in the Beaufort Miniature is wearing
a ruffle that is slightly too late in period to have been worn by Lady Jane
Grey. The miniature is unlikely to have been painted prior to 1554 as the
catalogue suggests. Though a beautiful
little picture, there is no evidence to suggest that it was thought prior to
the 1983 auction to be an image of Jane Grey. This can now be removed from the
list of any likenesses thought to depict Lady Jane Grey.
Strong. Roy, The English Renaissance Miniature, Thames and Hudson, 1983, page
 James. Susan, The Feminine Dynamic in English
Art, 1485-1603, Women as Consumers, Patrons and Painter, Ashgate Publishing,
Strong. Roy, Artists of the Tudor Court, The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered
1520-1620, Thames and Hudson, 1983, page 52
James. Susan, The Feminine Dynamic in English Art, 1485-1603, Women as
Consumers, Patrons and Painter, Ashgate Publishing, 2009, page 27
 Artist file for Levina Teerlinc, Heinz
Archive, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG50/21/250, accessed 2018. It is not known exactly when the Duke acquired the miniature,
but a photograph taken in 1983 lists the sitter as “Unknown Lady.” This
suggests that the sitter was not thought to depict Jane Grey prior to the sale
of that same year.
Sotheby’s Auction Catalogue, 13th September 1983, page 31. Purchased
by the Victorian and Albert Museum in 1983 this miniature is catalogued today
as “unknown lady”
For further information on the evolution of the ruff see Arnold. Janet, Pattern
of Fashion 4, The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear,
headwear and accessories for men and women c.1540-1660, Macmillan, 2008.
The information associated with many portraits thought to
depict Lady Jane Grey is often fragmented. In the case of the Gibson portrait,
only a letter and a photographic image submitted to The Connoisseur Magazine in
1911 exist to inform us that the sitter depicted was thought to be that of Lady
Jane Grey. This portrait has not yet been
located and studied and I have been unable to locate any other information
regarding the provenance of this painting. Neither has any information surfaced
to show that this portrait was ever included in any public exhibition as a depiction
of Lady Jane Grey.
Jane G. Gibson, the then owner of the portrait, submitted a
request to the magazine’s readers for further information regarding the
identity of the sitter and artist associated with this painting. No published replies to her request have been
located, which suggests that unfortunately Gibson did not get the information
she was looking for.
Within her letter, Gibson reported that a scrap of paper was
attached to the back of the painting identifying the sitter as “Jana Graia
Holbein pinxit”. She also noted that the painting was examined
by Sir George Scharf, Director of The National Portrait Gallery, London, who,
she explains “thought it to be a genuine portrait, by the School of Clouet.” Gibson does not, however, recall any thoughts
Scharf had regarding the identity of the sitter. She appears to dismiss the identification of
the sitter as Lady Jane Grey, reporting that the scrap of paper is a “manifest
forgery” and noting that “Jane Grey was a mere child at the time of Holbein’s
death”. Gibson also dismisses Scharf’s
opinion that the painting is associated with the school of Clouet noting that
the work “resembles other painting’s produced by Holbein”. She is correct when expressing doubt over the
identification of the sitter, though the portrait’s association with Hans
Holbein is also dubious.
A large number of portraits held in private collections or
sold at auction were associated with Hans Holbein during the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. That included
a small number of portraits thought at the time to depict Lady Jane Grey. Paintings sold between the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries where simply grouped and associated with the most
famous artists working within the sixteenth century. Little evidence to support the associations
were given by the auction houses, and access to information and research into
lesser known artists was limited. A
search of the Getty Provenance Database shows that a total of 1563 paintings
associated with Holbein and sold at auction between the years of 1800- 1900. It
is highly unlikely that Holbein would have had the time to paint 1563 portraits
during his lifetime, and therefore not all could have been painted by his hand
alone. It is more probable that a number
of the images sold between 1800-1900 were associated with him due to the fame attached
to his name, some similarities in style or as a way of adding value to the
As stated above, Gibson is right when noting that the sitter
seen in the portrait is too old to be a depiction of Lady Jane Grey, though this
does not dismiss the fact that Holbein could have possibly painted a portrait
of her. Holbein did have access to and created
a number of images of Jane’s family members including Margaret Wotton,
Elizabeth Grey, Eleanor Brandon, and Charles and Henry Brandon. This does suggest that he could have possibly
had access to Jane Grey as well, though the likelihood of a portrait surfacing of
Jane by Holbein today very slim. Holbein
died in 1543, and if a portrait was ever to surface painted by him then it most
definitely would have to depict a small child rather than the fully developed
lady seen in the Gibson portrait.
Though the quality of the early photographic image submitted
is poor and some of the finer details are lost, the costume worn by the sitter
does give us some clues as to the period in which the portrait was created. We can see from the image is that the portrait
depicts a young female, painted to below the waist and facing the viewer’s left. Both hands are depicted in front, and four
rings can be seen on her fingers. The
sitter also holds what appears to be a flower in her right hand. On her head she wears an early example of the
French Hood, and her gown has a square cut neckline with large bell-shaped
sleeves and fitted false undersleeves. Two
necklaces of goldsmith work are worn around the neck, and a circular brooch is
pinned to the front of the kirtle and tucked into the bodice of the outer gown.
The exact date on which the French Hood was first worn in
England is unknown, however, it is traditionally thought that this originates
with Mary Rose Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, returning from France after the
death of her husband in 1515. The hood originated in France and was worn
towards the end of the fifteenth century. Prior to its arrival in England, ladies wore
the traditional Gable Hood seen in the many paintings of Elizabeth of York and
Katherine of Aragon. The French Hood
became more popular in England when King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, who
was also noted to have spent a period of time in France.
It would eventually overtake the Gable
Hood in popularity and was worn as a popular item until the end of the
sixteenth century. Slight changes in its
appearance and construction occurred during its popularity that can help us to
identify a possible narrow period in which a portrait was painted.
The hood worn by the sitter in the Gibson portrait has
elongated side panels stretching to just beyond the jaw-line and is similar in
style to the image seen above left. This
portrait of Isabella of Austria painted around 1515 shows the French hood in
its early stages of development and around the time the hood is thought to have
been introduced to England. By the
1530’s, the front shape of the hood changed slightly, and the side panels
became shorter in appearance, ending just below the ear. Upper and lower billaments were also used to
add decoration. This can be seen in the famous
image of Anne Boleyn above middle. By the 1540’s, the side panels of the hood
were more concaved in appearance rather than the longer version seen in the
Gibson Portrait which shows us that the sitter in the Gibson Portrait is
wearing a hood that was still in its early stages of development when the
portrait was painted.
Though it cannot be known for certain until the portrait is
located and studied further, the style of costume worn by the sitter is more
consistent with that worn during the early part of the sixteenth century, prior
to the 1530’s. If the portrait is English,
then it most certainly cannot be a depiction of Lady Jane Grey, as the costume
seen is not something that would have been worn by her during her lifetime. The
Gibson portrait can now be removed from any list of potential likenesses
thought to depict Lady Jane Grey.
The Connoisseur Magazine, vol XXXI, September-December 1911, page 250
Sold at Christie’s auction, London, on 9th December 2016, lot 151 was rightfully described as a portrait of Katherine de Vere, Lady Windsor (1540-1600) and associated to the artist known today as Master of The Countess of Warwick. What is not commonly known about this painting is that prior to the 1960’s, it was thought to depict Lady Jane Grey. Due to this painting once being associated with Jane Grey, I have decided to discuss it on this website. This portrait is a good example of how Jane Grey’s name was applied to a sixteenth century portrait, depicting a female sitter, even if the inscription detailing facts about the sitter did not match with what was known about Jane.
The Arkwright portrait shows a lady, painted to just above
the waist and facing the viewer’s left. She has auburn hair that is pulled away
from the face, and her eyes are blue. The
sitter wears a black loose gown/night gown, with large puffed short sleeves and
a high collar. This style of gown was
popular in England from the 1530’s onwards. It was worn as an alternative to
the tight-fitted French Gowns with the low square necklines and large sleeves. Generally worn over a kirtle by both the
middle and upper class lady, this gown was easier to put on independently due
to its front fastening and was a comfortable gown to wear during the day or when
in the bedchamber as informal wear. During the 1560’s the loose gown became
tighter and more fitted around the bodice, much like that seen in the Arkwright
portrait. An embroidered chemise is also
seen worn under the gown. This is embroidered using black and gold thread and
incorporates the use of an acorn within the design. A small figure-of-eight ruff is worn
surrounding the face. This is also
embroidered with black work and gold thread.
On her head, she wears a French hood with an upper and lower billament
of goldsmith work containing gemstones and pearls. The traditional black veil
is also visible falling from the back of the hood. A small cross suspended from a pearl necklace
is seen at the neck, and she holds with her left hand a large pendant suspended
from a larger necklace of goldwork. The
sitter is depicted in front of a brown background, and a contemporary inscription
in the top left-hand corner has been added identifying the sitter’s age as
twenty-four and the year as 1567.
The artist associated with the Arkwright portrait is an anonymous
painter who is known to have produced several portraits of female sitters
during the second half of the sixteenth century. We do know that he worked in England between
the years of 1567-1569 and that he also painted a portrait of Anne Russell,
Countess of Warwick, now at Woburn Abbey.
As a result, other works thought to have been produced by this artist
are simply grouped under the attribution of “Master of The Countess of Warwick.”
The only evidence I have been able to locate to date which shows
us that this painting was indeed thought in the past to depict Jane Grey is an
early photographic image stored in the Heinz Archives, London.
This photograph shows the Arkwright painting prior to modern cleaning and
restoration. What is seen from the above
image is that an inscription was added to the panel surface on the left-hand side
at some point to inform the viewer that this portrait was supposed to be of Lady Jane Grey.
This inscription no longer survives on the panel surface today. This suggests that during the recent cleaning
process it was identified to be a much later addition, and it was removed from
As with many of the other portraits thought to represent Jane
Grey, no information has been located about the Arkwright portrait to inform us,
the modern-day viewer, when and why this painting was thought to depict her. It is possible that her name was simply
attached to the Arkwright portrait in the nineteenth or early twentieth century
due to a high demand and need for a physical image of Jane Grey. During the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Jane’s popularity was at its height. Many
published biographies, plays, and paintings depicting various scenes from her
life were created during this period. This in turn made Jane’s story more accessible
to the viewing public and in some cases captured people’s interest in her as a
historical figure. Her popularity then created a demand for her image and
allowed owners of various portraits that fitted with what was being recorded at
that time to attach her name to their painting with no evidence to support this. Today, some of these portraits are now being
re-evaluated due to easier access to documentation, a better understanding of
the progression of fashion during the sixteenth century, and new scientific
techniques which were not available during the earlier periods.
What is clear from the early photograph of the Arkwright
portrait is that the identification as an image of Jane Grey was made with very
little thought. The inscription clearly
indicates the sitter’s age as twenty-four and the year as 1567. Both the age and the date are inconsistent
with Jane Grey. It may have been possible that the owner who had the Jane Grey
inscription applied to the panel surface may have thought the earlier
inscription to be false and a later addition.
This cannot be known for certain due to missing documentation. Jane Grey’s birth has over the centuries been
debated by various writers due to lack of documentation, and no exact date is
known. It was commonly known and recorded, however, that she died in 1554 and
was sixteen/seventeen years old at the time of her death. This does bring about the question as to why
her name was attached to a portrait with incorrect information.
In a book published by Roy Strong in 1969 entitled The English Icon the provenance for the
Arkwright portrait was briefly discussed. Strong records that the portrait was once in
the collection at Hampton Court, Herefordshire and that by 1969 the portrait
was in the collection of David Arkwright Esq, who was noted to live at Kinsham
Hampton Court Castle, as it is known today, dates to the
fifteenth century and was home to the Coningsby family from 1510 until 1810. The
castle and estate were then purchased by John Arkwright (1785-1858), the great
grandson of the cotton-spinning industrialist Sir Richard Arkwright. The estate remained in the family until it was
sold by Sir John Stanhope Arkwright (1872-1954) in 1910. John Stanhope Arkwright then purchased
Kinsham Court, Herefordshire, and it appears he had taken the portrait with him.
David Lyndon Arkwright (1911-1983) inherited Kinsham Court from his father in
1954. He died without ever marrying or producing issue in 1983, leaving Kinsham
Court and its contents to his mother’s great niece Mrs. Susan Wood.
Two years after Susan Wood inherited Kinsham Court, the
portrait appears for the first time at auction on 19th July 1985, when
it was sold by Christie’s Auction House, London as a portrait of Katherine de
Vere. By 2016, the portrait was once again up for public auction, and it was
again described as a portrait of Katherine de Vere, Lady Windsor
It appears that prior to 1969 the Arkwright portrait was compared
to an almost identical image thought to be by the same artist and now in the collection
of the Marquess of Bute. That painting uses the identical individual portrait
image seen in the Arkwright portrait, though the sitter is painted three
quarter length and is incorporated into a family group. The Bute Family Portrait includes a contemporary
inscription made by the artist identifying the year in which the portrait was
painted and the sitter’s ages. A later
inscription has also been added to the panel surface that identifies the sitter’s
as Edward Lord Windsor, and his lady,
daughter to the Earl of Oxford. Their children, Lord Frederick Windsor, Lord
Thomas Windsor, and two younger brothers.
Though this inscription is a later addition, it does appear to be an
early one. In some cases, inscriptions
that included the names of the sitters where applied to a portrait at some
later period in time by other family members in hopes of fixing the identities
of the sitters depicted before they passed from living memory. This is very similar to what we do today with
photographs of loved ones. Though Edward
Windsor’s lady is not named within this description, he did marry Katherine de
Vere in 1555. Katherine de Vere was the
daughter of John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford, who is also noted in the
inscription, it was then decided that the Arkwright portrait was mostly likely
to depict Katherine de Vere and not Lady Jane Grey.
NPG018643, Artist Box, Master of The Countess of Warwick
Roy, The English Icon, Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, 1969, page 108
During the early nineteenth century, a small number of portraits
at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire were described as representing Lady Jane Grey.
Today, Stowe House is a Grade I listed building that is open
to the public for tours and that also incorporates a private school. It was the former home of the
Temple-Grenville family and George Nugent Temple-Grenville, who was created the
1st Marquis of Buckingham in December of 1784. The house passed through descent down the
family line. Various auctions of some of
its contents took place due to financial issues, and the family eventually sold
the property in 1921.
The Manuscript Room
Early in the nineteenth century houses across the country
began to open their doors to visitors who were able to take a tour of the
buildings for a small fee. A descriptive catalogue of Stowe House and Gardens
was printed in 1817 and sold for the use of tourists.
Described in this catalogue and referred to as being displayed
over the chimney in the Manuscript Room is a miniature portrait thought at that
time to be a representation of Lady Jane Grey.
The Catalogue reports that the miniature, along with several other
miniature portraits, including one thought to depict Jane Seymour and another of
Came into the
possession of Mrs. Grenville from the collection of her grandfather Charles,
Duke of Somerset.
The Mrs Grenville mentioned is Elizabeth Grenville (1717-1769), daughter of Sir William Wyndham and his first wife Lady Catherine Seymour. Elizabeth married George Grenville (1712-1770) in 1749 and was mother to George Nugent-Temple Grenville 1st Marques of Buckingham. She had inherited a small amount of money from her grandfather Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and it is possible that she had also inherited the miniature portraits as well.
No description of the miniature thought to depict Lady Jane
Grey is given in the 1817 catalogue, but it was engraved by Robert Cooper (died
1828) in the early nineteenth century, along with the other two portraits thought
to depict Jane and Thomas Seymour. These
engravings survive today, and inscribed on each engraving beneath the image is
a statement that the originals are in the possession of the Marquis of
Buckingham at Stowe.
What is clearly seen from this engraving is that the
miniature portrait thought in 1817 to depict Jane Grey is based on the pattern
used to create NPG4451, the Hastings portrait and the Jersey Portrait. The distinctive
crown headed brooch is seen in the engraving of the Manuscript Room Miniature worn
pinned to the front of the sitter’s bodice, and this brooch also appears in NPG4451,
the Hastings portrait, the Jersey portrait and the Van de Passe Engraving. The brooch was used in 1997 as the focus for
the reidentification of NPG4451 as a portrait of Katherine Parr. Today, all portraits relating to this pattern
are now thought to be a depiction of Katherine Parr rather than Jane Grey, and
therefore this rules out Jane Grey as the possible sitter in the Stowe House
It does appear that this miniature was sold on March 15th,
1849 as part of the large thirty-seven day auction of the contents of Stowe
House facilitated by Messrs. Christies and Manson. It appears in the original catalogue for this
sale, under the miniatures section referring to Royal Personages.
Item 3. The Lady Jane
Grey, in a crimson dress.
An annotated copy of this catalogue in the collection of the
Heinz Archive, London, records the buyer of the miniature as “Lagrange or La
Grange.” I have been unable to locate any other
information regarding the current whereabouts of this image.
The West Stairs
The second portrait to be discussed appears in the 1849
sales catalogue for the contents of Stowe House and is described as:
This portrait was displayed on the west staircase and was
documented in the sales catalogue as being purchased by a R. Berkeley, Esq, who
also purchased several other paintings at this sale. As the portrait is
documented as “called” Lady Jane Grey in the catalogue description, this
suggests that some doubt was expressed in 1848 about the identity of the sitter.
Robert Berkeley Esq (1794-1874) of Spetchley Park, near Worcester, was a descendant of an aristocratic family dating back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Berkeley family owned a large amount of land including Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, which still belongs to living descendants today.
An engraving dating to the nineteenth century that is now in the collection of the British Museum depicts a portrait of a lady wearing clothing that dates to a period much later than that of Jane Grey’s lifetime. This engraving is inscribed at the bottom in pencil. The inscription identifies the sitter as “Lady Jane Grey/ The Marquis of Buckingham/ Private plate”. The Engraving was bequeathed to the British Museum in 1868 from the collection of a Felix Slade (1788-1868), who is known to have been a keen collector, acquiring a large collection of books and prints during his lifetime.
Email communication with the Berkeley estate has confirmed that a portrait matching this engraving and thought to represent Lady Jane Grey is still in their collection today and appears for the first time in an inventory taken in 1893.
What can be seen from the photographic image of this
painting is that the lady depicted most definitely dates to a later period than
that of Lady Jane Grey’s lifetime. The
costume the sitter is wearing is not consistent with the style worn in England
during the period in which Jane Grey was alive.
The portrait dates to the 1650’s when the large ruffs worn across Europe
during the earlier periods were being replaced with the plainer broad lace or
linen collar. The elaborate French fashions worn previously during the reigns
of James I and Charles I were by this later period becoming more sombre in
style and colour.
This portrait also appears continental in style and is probably Dutch in origin. The west stair portrait is close in comparison to a number of portraits by Netherlandish artists such as Rembrandt van Rijh (1606-1669) depicting female sitters in the same manner and a similar style of costume. Though difficult to see in the photographic image, the hood worn by the sitter is similar in style to that seen in several portraits of Dutch origin dating to the middle of the seventeenth century. Catrina Hooghsaet wears a similar hood without the attached vail in her portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1657. During the 1660’s, in England, Ladies began to embrace the fashion of wearing their hair curled and pinned up with the use of jewels as embellishment rather than wearing a hood that had been popular in the past.
How the West Stairs portrait became known as a portrait of
Lady Jane Grey is unknown, and it is highly unlikely that this portrait was painted
to represent Jane Grey in the first place. It is possible that her name was
simply attached to the portrait due to the plainness of dress depicted or that
the frame used for this portrait, which also includes the inscription
identifying the sitter as Jane Grey, was simply reused from another portrait
thought to represent her. It can now be removed from the list of potential
likenesses as it dates to a period of some ninety years after her death and
therefore cannot be an authentic likeness.
The East Hall
The third and final portrait to be discussed appears in the
1817 descriptive catalogue from Stowe House. This book records another portrait
thought to be Jane Grey in the “passage
of the east hall” at Stowe. The
portrait is simply referred to as:
No further description is given of the painting. Since some
of the other portraits are explicitly described in the catalogue as “full
length,” and this one is not, it does suggest the possibility that this
painting was less than full length, perhaps three quarter, half, or bust
length. The use of the term “original” also indicates that in 1817 this
portrait was deemed to be old.
As yet, I have been unable to track the current whereabouts
of this portrait. I have been able to
locate a further two references to a portrait of Lady Jane Grey in the
collection of The Marquis of Buckingham that could possibly be this particular
painting, however. These do give us more
details as to what the portrait actually looked like, and when investigated
further, these also give us some indication as to whether or not this portrait
was a painting of Lady Jane Grey.
The first reference appears in the appendix of Richard
Davey’s 1909 biography on Jane Grey.
Davey describes an engraving of the portrait as:
Lady Jane Grey. From a
portrait in the possession of the Marquis of Buckingham. She wears a velvet
gown open at the throat to display a double chain with a pendant cross. On
table, large gold chalice.
Since this description is inconsistent with the West Stair
portrait and Manuscript Room Miniature, also thought to be Jane Grey, it is
possible that the source used by the unidentified engraver was the “original
portrait in the passage of the east hall.”
The description given by Davey of the East Hall Portrait is of interest
as he does give us a little more information as to what this image looked like.
Another clue appears in 1917, in a magazine article
published in the Musical Courier, which discusses the discovery of the then
lost Pryor’s Bank portrait thought to represent Lady Jane Grey. The article reports:
A portrait somewhat similar,
in which this same chalice figures, is in the collection of the Marques of
From the above descriptions, we see that the East Hall
Portrait was probably similar in look to the Pryor’s Bank portrait. Since no image has as yet been located, I am
unable to discuss the similarities in-depth. However, what is seen from the descriptions is
that both the Pryor’s Bank Portrait and the East Hall portrait included a
depiction of a chalice within the composition.
It is possible that an authentic portrait of Jane Grey could
have been painted that included the use of a chalice within the composition. This does not, however, fit with the general style
of other portraits produced of female figures painted during her lifetime. A number of portraits from this period show that
females where generally depicted by artists in front of a plain background or cloth. This was done to enable the depiction of the
sitter to be the most prominent part of the painting. Latin inscriptions that identified the sitter
age and date in which the portrait was painted were generally added by the
artist, and in some cases a motto or coat of arms as well. Some paintings do survive which also
demonstrate that female sitters were also depicted within a domestic
surrounding that included objects within the composition. These paintings
including one of Princess Elizabeth, now in the Royal Collection, and another
of Lady Mary Dacre. They are rare and are
not as common as those depicting a sitter in front of a plain background.
Since the description of the East Hall portrait mentions the
use of the chalice, I personally err on the side of caution when looking at
this information. As discussed in
previous articles, the iconography of Jane Grey is a difficult and complex
subject due to the large number of portraits and the little information
surviving about them.
It does appear that over the years several paintings once
identified as being of Jane Grey have turned out to be representations of Mary
Magdalene when studied further. As
discussed in my article on the Pryor’s Bank portrait, the use of the golden
chalice in the iconography of Mary Magdalene was popular and was used along with
other artefacts depicted in the paintings as a form of symbolism. Mary Magdalene was commonly portrayed alone,
in isolation reading, writing or playing the lute. The chalice was commonly used to symbolise
the jar of oil used to wash the feet of Jesus. The Symbolism used within
depictions of the Magdalene is similar to the description given by Roger Ascham
in his book The Schoolmaster of Jane
sat alone at Bradgate reading Plato.
This description was commonly used during the nineteenth and twentieth
century by authors and artists when discussing and depicting Jane to
demonstrate that her love of learning had isolated her from her family, who
Ascham notes were out hunting at the time of his visit.
One possible reason for the number of portraits depicting
the Magdalene being confused for that of Jane Grey is the publication in 1817 of
the engraved image of a painting that is known today as the Althorp Portrait.
That image appeared in a book entitled Bibliographical
Decameron by Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847). That engraving was based
on a portrait in the collection of Spencer family at Althorp house which at that
time was thought to be of Lady Jane Grey. That portrait also incorporated the
use of a golden chalice within the composition. Today, it is now thought that
this painting is a depiction of Mary Magdalene. In 1817, Dibdin stated in the
footnote of his book that,
This is the only legitimate portrait of Lady Jane Grey that has yet been made public
This then allowed others who may have owned a similar
portrait depicting a sixteenth century lady close to Jane’s age, reading and
with a chalice, to then attach her name to their painting.
Until the East Hall portrait is located, it cannot be known
for certain whether It is a possible image of Lady Jane Grey or another
portrait of Mary Magdalene that Jane’s name had been associated with.
The Jersey Portrait
Stowe house had a fourth portrait in its collection that in time was to become associated with Lady Jane Grey. It is known today as the Jersey portrait.
This portrait was purchased from the Pryor’s Bank sale on
May 3rd 1841, where it was described in the catalogue as:
Item 509. A panel painting, Queen Mary I., in carved guilt
The painting remained in the Stowe collection, where it was
hung in the Private Dining Room. It is described in the Stowe auction catalogue
290 Queen Mary, in a black dress, with richly ornamented sleeves-(Holbein)
The annotated catalogue records the buyer of this portrait
as a Mr J. Oxford Ryman, and within the same year of the sale this painting
ended up in the collection of the Countess of Jersey. Initially it was thought to have been
destroyed by fire in 1949, but recent research completed by John Stephan
Edwards has confirmed that this portrait did indeed survive the fire.
The Jersey Portraits identity as an image of Lady Jane Grey originates with the purchase of NPG4451 by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1965. Newspaper clippings from the late 1960’s show that almost immediately Roy Strong, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, compared NPG4451 to the Van de Passe engraving, thought at that time to be the only authentic image of Jane Grey, and a portrait in the collection of Lord Hastings, which had been associated with Jane’s name for many years. By 1969, Roy Strong published his book Tudor andJacobean Portraits, in which he also discussed the Jersey portrait under the heading Authentic and Possibly Authentic Portraits. Strong noted similarities between the Jersey portrait and the other images connected to NPG4451 and tentatively suggested that the Jersey portrait was also related to this set and must therefore also be another image of Jane Grey. At that time, Strong also reported that the “face is that of a much older woman.” He dismissed the identity of it being a portrait of Queen Mary I, however, and tentatively put this down to bad restoration. He also noted that the Jersey portrait had been destroyed by fire and that further research was unable to take place.
Research produced and published by Susan James in January
has now established that some of the jewels worn by the sitter in NPG4451
appear in inventories made of Katherine Parr’s jewels in 1550. By June of 1996, the National Portrait
Gallery then opted to reidentify NPG4451 as a portrait of Katherine Parr and
not Lady Jane Grey, as all evidence indicated that the sitter depicted was most
likely to be Katherine Parr. This in turn allowed the other portraits connected
with this pattern to also be reidentified as Katherine Parr.
Stowe A Description of The House and Gardens, 1817, page 52
Catalogue of The Contents of Stowe House, Messrs. Christie and Manson, 1848,
Among the index cards referring to portraits of Lady jane
Grey in the Heinz Archive, London, is a card recording a portrait of her once
in the collection of the Earl of Fife.
Until recently this portrait was thought to have been lost, and to my
knowledge it has not been studied by historians or exhibited in any public
exhibition as a representation of her.
The first record regarding this image located today was
published in a privately printed book from 1798. The book details the large collection of
paintings and portraits belonging to James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife
(1776-1854) across his various properties.
Recorded as being displayed in the large drawing room at Duff House, an eighteenth-century
estate house designed for the family by William, Adam is a portrait of Lady
Jane Grey. The entry reads
item 18. Lady Jane
Grey – half length. This unfortunate lady was forced to accept the crown, 5th
July 1553, and was beheaded 12th February, 1554. She was daughter to
Henry Grey, Duke of Dorset, by Lady Frances Brandon, by Mary queen of
France. She was remarkable for her
learning and virtue. Her husband, Lord
Guildford Dudley, was beheaded on the same day.
This description is vague and gives us very little detail
about the actual painting itself. The description does give us our first clue
that this painting was not a portrait of Lady Jane Grey, however. The artist recorded as creating the painting
is a “Zucchero,” which suggests the portrait was later in period than that of
Jane Grey’s lifetime.
Federigo Zuccaro (c.1540 – 1609), as he is better known, was
an Italian artist who first visited England in 1574. During that visit he was commissioned by
Robert Dudley (Jane’s brother in law) to paint an image of himself and Queen
Elizabeth. Compositional drawings for
both portraits survive today in the collection of the British Museum. If the Duff House portrait was painted by
this artist, then it could not have been an authentic image of Jane Grey since
she had died some twenty years earlier.
Duff House remained in the possession of the Earls of Fife until 1906. The property was then gifted to the village of Banff Burgh in which the house was built by the then Duke of Fife, Alexander William George Duff (1849-1912). Alexander Duff had inherited the property and its contents by descent, and when marrying Princess Louise in 1889, he no longer required the property as a principal residence. Though he did donate the building for the use of the people of Banff, its contents were sold off through auction. The auction was facilitated by Messrs. Christies, Mason and Woods and took place on 7th June 1907. The auction catalogue for this sale records that all “pictures are part of a very large collection which was made by James, Earl of Fife towards the end of the eighteenth century and all were displayed at Duff House.” A portrait thought by the family to depict Lady Jane Grey in 1907 was also included in this auction, and the catalogue does give us our first detailed description.
item 43 Lucas De
Heere, portrait of Lady Jane Grey, in rich flowered bodice with lace cuffs and
collar, green skirt and crimson robe, lace headdress with red bows. Holding a kerchief in her left hand and
leaning her right arm upon the back of a chair.
On panel 41 ½ x 29 ½ inches
Though the artist associated with this
work had changed since the 1798 reference, it is possible that the portrait
sold in 1907 was the same image as that described as being Jane Grey in the
I have as yet been unable to locate any
reference regarding who purchased the painting at the 1907 sale. Due to this, I am unable to track fully the
documented provenance from this portrait, though I do have a suggestion.
A portrait matching the above description does show
up in 1908, one year after the Duff House sale. This painting is described as
being in the collection of French collector and gallery owner Edward Brandus (1857-1937).
Brandus was well known for purchasing Old
Master portraits at a low price and then selling them on to other collectors
via his gallery in New York. The magazine “American Art News” dated
28th March 1908 records the painting in his collection as a portrait
of Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Mor Van Dashorst. A photograph of the portrait was also
included in the article, and though it is not clear from the poor quality image,
when magnified this image does show a female sitter with a flowered embroidered
bodice, holding a kerchief in her left hand and leaning her right arm upon the
back of a chair as described in the 1907 auction catalogue. Various bows are
also seen around the headdress and down the front of the bodice, like those
mentioned in the catalogue of 1907. This then gives us the impression that this
painting was the portrait sold from the Duke of Fife’s collection.
This painting was then sold by the Edward Brandus Gallery in April 1908. It eventually ended up in the collection of a “Mrs Flake” and was subsequently purchased as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey by John George Graves, an English collector, at Christie’s auction in July of 1930.
In 1935 Graves gifted this portrait
along with others from his collection to the Museum of Sheffield. The painting remains in the museum’s
collection today, though it is rightfully catalogued and referred to as a
portrait of an unknown lady rather than its previous title of Jane Grey.
When looking at the colour photograph of this image,
this portrait is closer in comparison to the description given in the 1907
auction catalogue that also refers to the green skirt and red robe. The
measurements of the wooden panel used as the support for the painting also
matches the measurements provided in 1907.
Due to the lack of documented provenance for this painting, it
cannot be said for certain that this is indeed the portrait described as being
that of Jane Grey at Duff House in 1798. This is the closest image related to the
description given in 1907, however, and this painting has also been identified
in the past as an image of Jane Grey.
The costume seen in this painting is again inconsistent with that worn by ladies during Jane Grey’s lifetime, and therefore this is not an authentic portrait of her taken from life or a panting which was created at later period which was meant to represent her. From the style of clothing worn by the sitter, it appears to date towards the end of the sixteenth century or early seventeenth century. There is some evidence to state that the embroidered jacket worn by the sitter was in use toward the later decades of Queen Elizabeth I reign, with several being documented in the inventory made in July of 1600 listing clothing stored within the royal wardrobe. This style of jacket does appear to have become popular between the period of 1600-1620 where it appears in many paintings of female sitters from this time.
The ruff also worn by the sitter gives us
some indication that this was painted after 1600 as it no longer folds into the
figure of eight pleats worn during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and is now seen
as a flat collar which was probably heavily starched or suspended using a wire
frame or “underpropper,” as it was referred at the time. The style of headwear seen in the painting is
also of interest and does not fit with anything worn by English sitters during
this period. This suggests that the painting may possibly be continental in
origin, though until testing is done on the pigment used and the painting is
studied further this cannot be established.
What this painting does demonstrate is
the extreme measures that people would go to when wanting to own a portrait of
Lady Jane Grey. The identification,
given to this portrait was done with little research into the period in which
she lived, and her name was simply attached to an image that did not really fit
with what was known about her at the time. It is
now clear that she can be eliminated as the possible sitter due to the costume
worn by the lady depicted. If the
portrait now in the collection of the museum of Sheffield is in fact the
painting from Duff House, it can, however, be removed from the list of
portraits that potentially depict Jane Grey.
Catalogue of The Portraits and Pictures in The Different Houses Belonging to The Earl of Fife, 1798, page 15-16
 Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters and Historical Portraits, The Property of His Grace the Duke of Fife, Messrs. Christie, Mason & Wood. 7th June 1907, page 2
 Catalouge of Pictures by Old Masters and Historical Portraits, The Property of His Grace the Duke of Fife, Messrs. Christie, Mason & Wood. 7th June 1907, page 10
 American Art News, Volume 6, No 24, March 28, 1908, page 24
Electronic communication, Museums of Sheffield, 31st May 2018
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a small
number of portraits identified as being of Lady Jane Grey and attributed to the
artist Antonis Mor Dashorst where sold through auction houses. Images of all
but one have not been located today. Vague descriptions referring to the
portraits, however, do survive in the auction catalogues.
Before looking at these, we must first examine the artist
and identify whether Antonis Mor would have had access to paint Jane Grey in the
first place. It must be remembered that little information was known regarding
the various artists working during the sixteenth century during the period of
sales for these paintings.
Paintings sold between the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries where simply grouped and attributed to the most famous names of
artists working within the sixteenth century known at that time. Little evidence to support the identifications
was given by the auction houses, and access to information and research into lesser
known artists was limited.
When looking at catalogues from this period, we see very few
paintings attributed to an unknown artist, but a large amount attributed to
Holbein, Clouet, and Mor. Today, with the use of scientific investigation
taking place, most paintings are now being correctly re-attributed to artists
that may be well known, or the artist is explicitly stated as unknown, rather
than the name assigned at some earlier period.
Antonis Mor was born between 1516-1520 in Utrecht and worked
for members of the Habsburg family in Brussels, Portugal and Spain. He died in Antwerp between 1576 and 1577. At some period between 1553-1554, he was sent
by Charles V to London to paint a portrait of Mary Tudor, his future daughter
in law, as part of the marriage negotiations taking place between her and Charles’s
only son, Philip of Spain.
The exact date on which Mor arrived in London to paint
Mary’s image is unknown. It can be established that it was between July of 1553,
the time at which Mary ascended to the throne, and July of 1554, the month
during which Mary married Philip.
During this period, Jane was locked away in the Tower of London. In the November of 1553, she had appeared at
trial and was thereafter classed as a convicted traitor. It would have been highly unlikely that any artist
would have been granted permission by the queen to paint Jane’s image. Yes, security had been reduced in December of
1553, and Jane was allowed to walk in the gardens of the Tower. During the period after her trial Mary granted
some favour to her younger cousin, though Jane was still a prisoner and was
heavily guarded. Some still viewed her
as a threat to Mary’s position due to the Device of the succession produced by
King Edward VI that had named Jane as his heir.
The first portrait to be discussed is known today only through
an image stored in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York. Notes stored along with the image inform us
that this portrait came into public knowledge when it was sold at Christie’s,
London on the 4th July 1927. It
was described in the auction catalogue as:
“Lot 141 – Mor, Head
of Lady Jane Grey, with embroidered dress. Oil on panel 10 x 7 ¾ inches”.
The notes also record the buyer as “Werthemier,” who
purchased the painting for the sum of £15.
This painting appears to
resurface again in 1953 when it was sold at Sotheby’s, but by this period the identification
as a portrait of Jane Grey appears to have been downgraded. It was then
described in 1953 as:
“A portrait of a lady said to be Lady Jane Grey, in black
and gold dress and braided headdress”.
During this sale the portrait was again attributed to Antonis
Mor. It is also recorded to have come from the collection of Emile Wertheimer,
probably the same person who had purchased the Frick portrait in the July of
This painting has not yet been examined by historians when
discussing the iconography of Lady Jane Grey, neither does it appear to have
been exhibited in any public exhibition as a representation of her. Its current
location is unknown, and access to the actual painting is therefore not
What is seen in the photograph is that the portrait depicts
a young female sitter at bust length facing the viewers left. The image shows a
lady wearing what appears to be a Spanish gown or coat (probably edged with
gold) with a high fitted collar and small ruff.
This style of coat became fashionable in England after the marriage of
Mary Tudor to Philip of Spain in 1554. After
this event English fashion was influenced more by the Spanish marriage. The entry into England of Philip and other
Spanish dignitaries allowed others of the court to view new fashions worn by
the Spanish court.
By the 1560’s, ladies had started to abandon the traditional
loose gowns or night gown worn for decades.
These fell loosely from the shoulders to the floor and were usually worn
over a fitted kirtle. English Ladies instead
embraced this new look influenced by the Spanish fashion. This newer garment was generally cut to be
fitted to the upper torso and was worn open, being fastened only at the throat,
as seen in the Frick painting, to reveal an underdress or fitted bodice of a
different colour. It could also be worn completely
fastened from the waist to the neck and slashed at the front to reveal a
The costume seen in the painting is more consistent with
this newer style of garment that became fashionable after the death of Jane
Grey. The false hanging sleeves seen in the painting attached to the gown at
the sleeve head indicate a period toward the end of the 1560’s when this style
of sleeve became favourable and was worn by both men and women. The padded rolls also seen at the sitter shoulders
were becoming more fashionable during this period as a decorative feature and
would become larger in size during the 1570’s.
The style of hair is also of interest as the sitter is
wearing her hair pulled back from her face and arranged into what appears to be
some sort of decorative hairnet. This again indicates a later style worn by
ladies during the reign of Elizabeth I rather than the style worn by ladies
during the reigns of Edward and Mary, when ladies hair was parted in the middle
and worn in an arrangement to surround the face.
It is my opinion from viewing the photograph that this Image may have been
painted over or is painted by another hand than that of Antonis Mor. The Frick
portrait does not correlate with other paintings by Mor and is missing the
finer details seen in other works produced by this artist. The painted treatment of the hair, face and
costume appears not to have been painted from life. This is missing the subtle
shading and highlights seen in other works by Mor which identifies that he was
of a higher skill when using paint to create the illusion of skin tones and
falling fabric than the artist who created the Frick portrait.
To me, it is more characteristic of a painting based on an existing portrait, pattern,
or sketch by another artist of the sixteenth century than that of Mor. This may
then have been copied on multiple occasions within a workshop to create an
image and fill the demand for portraits to be used as decoration within the
home. Workshop portraits were in high
demand towards the end of the sixteenth century, and their creation required a
lesser skilled artist than that of the great masters who may have painted the
image in the first place. This theory is
pure speculation at this time and will not be known for certain until the Frick
portrait is located and studied further, however, the survival of other images
which are close in comparison do suggest this.
The Frick portrait does show some similarities to a group of
paintings depicting unidentified female sitters wearing similar clothing,
including one once thought to depict Anne Boleyn. That painting is now
identified as a portrait of an unknown woman and is in the collection of the Musee
Conde in France.
The Musee Conde portrait is dated to the second half of the sixteenth
century, according to the museum’s website records. Like the Frick Portrait, it is painted on
wood, which does indicate that it may have been painted at a similar period. It is highly likely that the artist who created
the Frick portrait used an image or pattern similar to this painting as a
source of reference when creating the portrait and that the identity of the
original sitter and artist who painted it have been lost, allowing Jane’s name
to be associated at a later point in time.
Until the Frick portrait is located and dendrochronology
testing is done to establish a date of creation, we cannot know for certain whether
this is a genuine sixteenth century painting or is instead one of the many
produced during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when demand for
sixteenth century portraits was at its height.
Further research and testing also needs to take place to establish more
information regarding the possible artist and subsequent related images in
order to understand the Frick Portrait better. Whether or not this portrait is deemed
important enough to have this done is also debatable as all evidence supports a
conclusion that it is not an image of Jane Grey and that it was not painted by
On 14th July 1820, a portrait was sold by a Mr
Bullock of London, and that was formerly in the collection of a Mr David Holt
Esq of Manchester. The catalogue
describes the painting as being by a Sir A. Mor. The entry for the lot is as
“A portrait of lady
jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley in one frame, the latter portrait is the
only one known to exist of Lord Guildford”.
This pair of portraits has yet to be located, and little
information is known about them. The
painting does appear to have been auctioned again in 1833 by Edward Fosters of
London, when it was again referred to as:
“Portraits of Lord
Guildford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Mor”.
In an attempt to locate this image, I have managed to locate
three portraits in collections today that have in the past been associated
with Lord Guildford Dudley, in the hope of one possibly being the double
portrait indicated in the Catalogues. None
of the paintings located contain another image in the same frame and supposed
to represent Lady Jane Grey, which suggests that the portrait sold in
1820 must be treated as a separate image that is unfortunately lost today.
Until located and studied further it can not be known whether
it was indeed an authentic likeness of Jane and Guildford or another image with
those names incorrectly attached.
In an auction that took place on March 11, 1910 at
Mendelssohn Hall of the collection of the late American collector Frederick Charles
Hewitt, a portrait referred to as a depiction of Jane Grey by Mor Van Dashorst
The catalogue for this sale describes the portrait in
“No. 206 – Portrait of
Lady Jane Grey- 42 x 30 ½ inches, the figure is shown three-quarters length,
standing against a dark almost black background, very slightly inclined to the
left, while the eyes gaze full to the front.
The blond hair is softly frizzed and decorated with three jewels and a
hoop of pearls and garnets. The eyes are
hazel-brown, the lips daintily curved and the flesh tones delicately warm. The lace ruff, erect at the back, is drawn
down in front, revealing a little of the neck, on which lies a necklace,
composed of two loops of gold hung with pearls and pearl drop. A geranium-coloured rosette of four petals,
stubbed with an amethyst and pearls, is fastened at the stomacher. The latter is carried down to a point and
bordered with tabs. Its material is the
same as that of the skirt – pearly silk damask with roses and green leaves and
tendrils. Over this dress is a robe of geranium red with slashed sleeves”.
As with the double portrait discussed above, this painting
has not yet been located and only the sales catalogue exists to report that it
was ever thought to be a portrait of Jane Grey.
The detailed description does give us some clues that allow
us to rule out Lady Jane Grey as the sitter depicted in the portrait,
however. This description mentions the
ruff as being “erect at the back.” This indicates that the portrait depicts a
young female painted towards the end of the sixteenth century when ruffs worn
by both men and women where larger in size than the small ones seen in the
1560’s that surrounded only the face. As
the ruff grew and became wider during the 1580’s, support was required to keep it
upright. This consisted of a wire frame that
was attached to the back of the garment and that held the ruff high at the back,
giving the “drawn down in front” look that is described in the description. A good example of this is the many portraits
painted of Queen Elizabeth during the later period of her life. In these, she often wears a full ruff that
surrounds the whole neck and is high at the back and low at the chest. In other cases, such as the Ditchley portrait
seen at the NPG London, the ruff is supported at the back though does not
surround the entire neck and is pinned to the neckline of her dress allowing
the chest to be revealed.
Since the description mentions the use of a ruff that is
“erect at the back,” it is more likely that this portrait was painted after the
1580’s rather than as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey from life.
My name is Lee Porritt, and I have had a keen interest in Tudor
history and the story of Lady Jane Grey from as far back as I can
remember. One of my earliest memories is having her story read to me from
a book entitled “Discoverers and Adventurers” by R.J Unstead, and it gripped me.
I then started to look into her story, and I quickly realised so
little was actually known regarding this figure, and in some cases she was
deliberately deleted from history or classed as a minor figure. This
interest has never really left me. I have always taken a keen interest in any
new work published regarding Jane Grey, especially the new discoveries
surrounding her story that have taken place over the past ten years.
During my teens I became what my family would
probably describe as “obsessed” with locating any image thought to represent
her as a way of identifying what this intelligent child looked like. With the
re-identification of NPG 4451 in 1996, I was shocked that she once again
vanished from sight. I wrote several letters to the National Portrait Gallery
in the hope of understanding this properly.
One thing I have learnt over the years is that, due to a lack of documentation regarding Jane and a lack of an authentic likeness, she has never really gone without a face. From the moment the axe fell in 1554 her story and demand for an image has continued today.
Due to the uncertainty that surrounds her, this
has allowed us the public to put into place our own interpretation as to who
she was and what she looked like.
When looking at the various portraits
identified as her over the period of 460 years, we see how her story and image have
been changed and, in some cases, have been manipulated to fit society at the
I personally think this is a good thing because
if she is seen as a concrete figure with known facts then it could be argued
that her popularity may not be so high today, and with these new discoveries
she continues to be discussed and debated and so is never really at risk of
vanishing from sight.
I have noted over the years a need and demand
from us, the public, to go back to basics regarding what is known about this
individual and what is speculation in order to understand her more fully as an
individual, as well as her place history.
I eagerly followed the hard work produced by
John Stephan Edwards, initially on his website and then re-written in his book
A Queen of a New Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine
Day’s Queen’ published in 2015. Stephan
was to me the first individual to make information regarding the complex
subject of the imagery connected to Jane Grey available to the general public and
to open the whole subject up for debate.
After the publication of his book, I then
started to take afresh look at some of the information I had collected over the
years and that had not necessarily been discussed. I also looked at how this
could be used and made available to continue with the debate.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way stating that I am an expert in this matter. I do not have any training in historical research. However, I have spent a lifetime searching and reading various books, articles, and archives in hope of locating anything relating to Jane Grey and the production of her image.
This in turn lead me to open this blog as a way of presenting to you, my readers, the thoughts and the various information.
It is my hope, by making this information available to you the readers this will in turn allow you to use the comment section or contact section to express your own thoughts and feelings regarding the Iconography of Jane Grey in hope of creating some sort of archive relating to this subject which is accessible and all in one place.
I must say that by doing this I am taking
myself right out of my comfort zone since at an early age I was diagnosed with
dyslexia. At times I have allowed this to hold me back in terms of writing due
to uncertainties regarding stigma and the time it takes me to produce things.
I will apologise in advance for any spelling
or grammar mistakes in any of the articles that make this hard for the reader. But I am open to feedback and will make
changes where suggested. The use of the internet as a forum for writing
is new to me, and I would value any thoughts, tips, and opinions, the in hope
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please remember that your input and comments are welcomed on this site. If you own a portrait thought to be of Lady Jane Grey or feel an image maybe a representation of her please don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact link.
Very little is known about this portrait and that it was once thought to represent Lady Jane grey in the first place appears to have been missed by modern scholars, its current location has yet to be found.
Its existence is purely known through a short article
published in the Musical Courier magazine on 8th November 1917 where
its discovery as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey was discussed in detail and an
image was also reproduced showing the painting with its current owner.
The article reported that the painting was discovered in a
small inn by singer Marguerite Namara (1888-1974) prior to 1917 when on
vacation near Saint Margaret’s Bay. It records
that when staying at the inn Namara observed the portrait hanging in her room
however she was unable to distinguish the image due to dirt on the panel. Upon taking the painting off the wall and inspecting
under natural light Namara recalls that she found an inscription on the back of
the panel stating that it had come from the collection of Thomas Baylis at
Pryor’s bank in Fulham.
It is then noted that Namara immediately purchased the
portrait from its current owner where she then sent the painting away to be
cleaned and restored. She later
discovered that “it had sold at auction in 1842 as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey
though during cleaning and the conservation process it was then suggested that
the creator of the work was Guilliame Streets (William Scrots) and that the portrait
was probably painted towards the end of her life.
An explanation for the appearance of the golden chalice
within the painting and used to back up the identity of the sitter being that
of Jane Grey was also given within the article where it was reported that Jane
Grey once owned chalice which is recorded on an “inventory of the effects of
Jane Grey contained in the National Archives of Great Britain”.
No such inventory of the personal possessions belonging to
Jane Grey has yet surfaced during modern research and the only other mention
regarding the survival of any inventory is written by the Victorian biographer
Richard Davey in his book “The Nine days Queen”.
When discussing the Althorp Portrait (once thought to
represent Jane Grey) in the appendix of his book Davey dismisses George
Scharf’s opinion that this painting represents Mary Magdalene due to the
presence of the golden chalice, Davey states that:
number of Tudor portraits represent great ladies with a similar goblet standing
beside them. These gold and silver
chalices or cups were common gifts from royal god-fathers and mothers in Tudor
times and where frequently stolen from churches. Lady Jane, we know from inventories of her
effects, had several in her possession”. 
Davey also reports earlier in the book that:
“Lady Jane appears to
have made a will (which may still be in existence, though for the time being it
has disappeared) in which she left certain jewels, clocks, and valuables to her
sisters, her women and her servants, and strange to relate, a gold cup or
chalice to queen Mary”
As discussed above if these documents were in existence then
it’s almost certain that they would have been located and studied by modern
historians today who have searched archives across the globe in hope to locate
new information regarding Jane Grey. Since
Davey is the only author to ever have mentioned the existence of these
documents without citing the source and whereabouts, we must then presume that
this was in fact made up to pad out his biography.
Today we know that his biography on Jane should be viewed
with caution and not as historical fact as seen with his famous description of
Jane Grey’s entry into the Tower which was used for generations as the only
detailed description of what she looked like. Today this has now been found to be a forgery
based on some true facts of the event, a description of Mary Tudor and possibly
a Victorian costume illustration during the research for her biography “sisters
who would be Queen” by Leanda De Leslie and Jane Grey portrait specialist John
In 1837 Thomas Baylis who is reported by Namara as being a
previous owner of the painting and enthusiastic collector of antiques purchased
the then Vine Cottage on the banks of the river Thames and subsequently
demolished the original cottage to build in its place the pseudo-gothic house
known as Pryor’s Bank to display his vast collection of antiques. The sale of his collection took place on the 3rd
May 1841 (not 1842 as stated in the Musical Courier article) and lasted a week.
The catalouge for this sale is rare and the copy supposed to
be in the collection of the British Library was destroyed due to bombing in the
1940. There is a copy in the collection
of the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana which lists the many portraits thought to
represent the prominent figures of the Tudor period in Baylis’s collection
including “item 510, A portrait on panel
of Lady Jane Grey”.
Frustratingly as with the majority of catalogues from this
period no description of the painting is given though it is noted as being
displayed in the Library when at Pryor’s Bank. No attribution is also given to
the artist who created the picture as mentioned by Namara in the magazine
Weather this was in fact the painting in Namara’s collection is uncertain as the article does not give any indication as to how Namara came up with the identity as Jane Grey other than the reference to a portrait being sold in the Pryor’s Bank sale. It may be possible that a number was imprinted in the back of the panel which coincides with the reference in the auction catalogue and until the original is located then this remains uncertain.What is for certain is that unfortunately Namara did not own or find a previously unidentified authentic portrait of Jane grey but actually a portrait that was made to represent Mary Magdalene. This can be clearly seen from the early posed photograph of the singer and her newly acquired painting displayed alongside the article.
In the picture the portrait is seen displayed in the background at the right-hand side of the singer. Though the image is not detailed a basic understanding of the composition can be made. The portrait shows a young female standing to the waist with her head facing slightly to her left. In her right hand she is holding a book and though not visible until magnified the sitter also appears to be holding a chalice or large gold cup with her left hand.
The composition of the Pryors Bank portrait is almost identical to that seen in a small group of paintings produced during the sixteenth century by an artist or group of artists known as the Master of Female half lengths. This name of convenience was applied in the 19th century to identify the maker of makers of a small group of paintings displaying female figures in domestic environments, religious works and mythological paintings.
The works attributed to this artist have been debated and
discussed between art historians since the name was applied. It is now thought today though not proven
that the paintings where not in fact produced by one artist but by a small
group or workshop working in the Netherlands that was established between the
1520’s and 1530’s.
Various paintings produced by this group survive in collections today including a large amount that display a lone female sitter with the inclusion of a large gold cup or chalice which are thought to represent Mary Magdalene.
The use of the chalice within these images is symbolic and there to represent the jar of oil used by Mary to wash the feet of Jesus as stated in the bible, also the Magdalene is usually always portrayed wearing the colour red and is seen in these depictions in isolation often portrayed reading, writing or playing a musical instrument.
Though again debated, it is thought that the use of the colour red within religious art represented love in sense of charity, martyrdom, sacrifice on the cross and redemption through crucifixion. This is also seen with the common use of blue within representations of the Virgin Mary it’s meaning is to represent the empress and the heavenly divine. So rather than the paintings representing different individuals it is highly likely that they were produced as fictious representations of Mary Magdalen or at least a portrayal of an individua dressed as the Magdalene with the use of props within the painting as symbolism to back this up.
Another set of paintings also attributed to the same group of artists discussed above is closer in composition to that seen with the Pryor’s Bank portrait and as seen from the images displayed all show a female sitter painted to the waist, standing behind a table containing a book and chalice.
The first image on the left was sold through an art dealer in Amsterdam in 1942 where at the time it was thought to represent “Mary Magdalene” and the second appeared at Christies auction, London and was sold on the 10th July 2002 where it was again described in the catalogue for the sale as “Mary Magdalene”.
Though not identical to the Pryor’s Bank portrait as the
lady is seen turning the page of book laid flat on the table in front rather
than holding it which is seen in the Pryor’s copy the paintings are at lease
related if only in composition.
Another Painting related to this set and is almost identical
was also sold through auction at Christie’s New York on 13th April
2016 and again described as the “Saint Mary Magdalene”. What is interesting about this image is the
sitter is seen holding the book as seen in the image of the Pryors painting
rather turning the page as seen in the subsequent copies and it may just
possibly be the actual painting in the photograph.
This painting is again described as being oil on panel measuring 22 1/8 x 16 3/8 inches. The provenance of the portrait is briefly recorded as coming from a New Jersey estate where it was acquired prior to 1961 by the grandfather of the current owner from a Lady Hilda Seeley.
Whether or not this portrait is deemed important enough to be located and studied further is up to the individual reader however from this study this painting can now be removed from the list of possible portraits of Lady Jane Grey as it is neither an authentic image or an image made to represent her but Mary Magdalene.
“It’s an appallingly bad picture and there’s absolutely no
reason to suppose it’s got anything to do with Lady Jane Grey. But if the
National Portrait Gallery has public money to burn, then so be it.”
The above quote reportedly the opinion of
historian David Starkey was published in the January of 2006 when the National Portrait
Gallery, expressed the interest in using money raised through their 150th
anniversary gala to purchase this newly discovered portrait thought to
represent Lady Jane Grey. This painting
was eventually purchased by the gallery to mixed reviews and even today
uncertainty regarding the identity of the sitter is still evident and debated.
In February of 2019 author Alison Weir produced
an article for History Revealed Magazine in which she
discusses the various portraits relating to Lady Jane Grey. In this Weir states
that the Streatham inscription “LADY
JAYNE was added at a later date”and that “the inscription is almost certainly
incorrect, as the sitter wears a distinctive pearl carcanet that appear in
portraits of Parr, notably one inscribed CATHERINA REGINA UXOR HENRICI VIII”.
Through this Weir is indirectly claiming that the Streatham
portrait was in fact another depiction purchased by The National Portrait
Gallery thought to be a portrait of Jane Grey however turning out to be another
image of Henry VIII’s sixth queen Catherine Parr.
Due to the speculation surrounding this image this article
will take a fresh look at what is known regarding the portrait to date and look
at some of the facts found from scientific investigations on this portrait both
prior to and after the galleries purchase.
This in turn will attempt to resolve some of the myths which have
surrounded this painting in hope to once and for all discuss the galleries
reasoning for its purchase and the portraits importance as a historical
artefact when looking at the iconography of Lady Jane Grey.
When discussing the complex subject relating to portraits
of Lady Jane Grey one must first establish if there was a need for a painting
in the first place. For her time she was not initially seen as a public figure
of any importance with no strong claim or intention of inheriting the throne
due to the last will and testament written in 1546 by Henry VIII claiming in
what order his children should inherit.
The period in which she became a prominent figure, the time
between her marriage in May of 1553 and the end of her reign in the July of
1553 is a very short window of time for which a life portrait is most likely to
have been created with the exception of personal miniature portraits which may
possibly have been produced and held by close family members or associates. Jane was known for her education and there is
some evidence that portraits of her where being produced during the sixteenth
century which include at least three references to individual paintings.
The first reference is an inventory of the possessions of
Elizabeth Cavendish (Bess of Hardwick 1527-1608) taken in 1566 indicates that
Elizabeth held a portrait “of the Lady
Jane on a table” in her chamber at
The second reference is in a group of inventories
documenting the extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and
books collected by the 1st Baron of Lumley (John Lumley 1533-1609)
across his residences of Lumley Castle, Nonsuch Palace, and Hart Street. In these
inventories a picture referring to “The
Lady Jane Graye, executed” is described in the
section relating to paintings identified as “pictures
of a smaller scantling”.
The third and final reference is a letter written towards
the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign by Arbella Stuart when she intended to marry
Edward Seymour (Lady Jane Grey’s grandnephew).
During the investigation into this matter a letter was
discovered written in Arbella’s hand instructing Edward to visit Hardwick Hall
in disguise and stating that he was to identify himself by carrying “all the testimonies they can, as a picture
or handwriting of the Lady Jane Grey who’s hand I know, she sent her sister a
book at her death which the best they could bring, or of the Lady Katherine, or
Queen Jane Seymour or any of that family, which we know they, and none but they
The above three references do tell us that portraits of
Jane Grey where at least in production during the second half of the sixteenth
century and possibly one of these may have been a life image or based on an
existing portrait pattern when her image as a protestant martyr was being
Though none of these paintings have been reliably discovered
today the above references are discussed in detail in the 2015 book by J.
Stephan Edwards “A Queen of a New
Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley” the fact is that Lady Jane
Grey remains faceless with regards to an authentic likeness.
The portrait is documented as passing by descent through
the Codner family where it was reported that it was first purchased by William
Squires Codner, a keen collector of sixteenth and seventeenth century furniture
and antiques from an antiques shop in Ipswich between 1890 and 1904. The family held the tradition that this was
in fact a portrait of Lady Jane Grey and various members of the family appear
to have worked with specialists of there time in an attempt to prove this.
The first written documentation known to date regarding the
painting and the identity of the sitter being that of Jane Grey is a letter
written in 1922 currently stored in the sitter file associated with this
painting at the Heinz Archive and library connected to the National Portrait
Gallery. This is written by Sir Charles
Holmes onetime director of the gallery and expresses his view that the portrait
“is of period and probably represents
Lady Jane Grey but is not the work of the finest rank and condition is bad”.
It appears from various letters stored in the same sitters
file that the family contacted various members of staff at the gallery and
other institutions including Roy Strong over the years to inform them of the
portraits existence and sending various images of the panel in its current
state in hope of coming to a definite conclusion or locating documentation to
support that the painting did indeed depict Lady Jane Grey. Some of the main findings of the family which
were reported to the Gallery in these letters are as follows:
The costume and headdress dates from c.1550
The sitter seen is aged between 12 and 15 years of age
The sitter holds a book hinting to Jane’s religion and
The inscription reads Lady Jayne and seems to be of period
The sitters face has been vandalised which may possibly be
due to the unpopularity of the Grey Family during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
The discovery of an identical image within the galleries
archives which was called Lady Jane Grey in the 19th century and
exhibited as her in the 1866 South Kensington Exhibition and was also mentioned
by George Scharf as a possible genuine image
above information resolves the myth that the portrait was in fact not a new discovery
in 2006 and shows that it was actually known to the gallery as a potential
image of Jane Grey for many years prior. The fact that the family had also
managed to locate images of an alternative portrait based on the same pattern which
was submitted to public exhibition in 1866 as a portrait of her also gave good
support to this.
It must be remembered that the above information stated by
the family was pure speculation at this period and though the portrait had been
viewed by many specialists of the time in hope of assisting the family with
their findings no scientific investigations had taken place at this point in
As noted by Sir Charles Holmes in the letter of 1922 the
portrait was in rather bad condition prior to the galleries purchase with thick
blue overpaint probably applied in the eighteenth century to the background and
paint loss to the sitter’s costume, face and inscription, no other inscriptions
or labels where located on the back of the panel during this period to indicate
Investigation / Findings
By 2005 Christopher Foley the director of the Lane Fine
Arts Limited in London was invited to visit the current owner of the portrait
in hope of once and for all resolving the matter of identity and date and to
deal with the potential sale. Upon
viewing the painting Foley was noted to report that “within a moment, I knew it
was right” and rushed the painting
away to undergo various testing and further research.
It appears from the report submitted by Foley to the
gallery that conservation work immediately took place on the painting. From this the we can see that the panel was
secured and splits where filled, fire damage to the bodice of the gown was
repaired, overpaint and discoloured varnish was removed, and retouching done to
the surface of the panel.
The inscription on the top left-hand corner also underwent
paint analysis to establish that this was of period and was not applied at a
later date which is common with other images thought to represent Jane Grey.
This was facilitated by Dr Libby Sheldon of the University College London and
pigments of paint used within the inscription and other similar parts of the
painting where analysed.
Dr Sheldon’s findings where that the inscription clearly
reads “LADY IAYNE” and that the colour used is known as
lead-tin-yellow which was a pigment that became obsolete in the early
eighteenth century and was widely used before this date within paintings for
bright yellow highlights and is found on numerous original inscriptions dated
to the second half of the sixteenth century.
The same pigment was also found within the painting used to create the
yellow of the costume decoration”.
The above information tells us that the inscription is in
fact in date with the painted image and was actually added to the surface by
the artist who painted the portrait intending the image to at least represent a
“Lady Jayne” and not as it has been quoted added at a later period.
The next step for the painting was then to undergo
Dendrochronology testing to establish an exact date for its creation. This investigation was facilitated by Dr Ian
Tyers at the University of Sheffield. The three panels which made up the
surface on which the images were painted on where tested and tree rings counted
too establish at date. Dr Tyers findings
where as such:
latest growth rings datable on the panels are (A) 1584, (B) 1585 and (C) 1580.
Allowing time for the removal of the sap-wood, the earliest dating for use of
painting is 1593.”
From this we can see that unfortunately the painting does
not date to the period of Jane Grey’s lifetime though to the later period of
the sixteenth century this then brings into question as to why a portrait of a
lady was painted in the 1590’s wearing clothing from the 1550’s.
The only apparent reason for this is that the painting was
in fact meant to be a commemorative image or produced as part of a set of
paintings relating to public or religious figures from the past which was
fashionable at this time as a means of decorating homes and public spaces. The fact then arises as to which “Lady Jayne”
would have been well enough known at this point in time for people to want to
have a portrait of in their collection.
From the moment the axe fell in the February of 1554 Jane
Grey became a public figure and there is some evidence to suggest that Jane
herself wanted her death to be remembered especially in the world of religion. Some of her writings produced within the
tower in her final months including her debate with Dr Feckingham, letter to
her sister and scaffold speech where printed in pamphlet form within months of
her death. Jane was also discussed in
John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” first published in 1563 which was a popular book
for its time and various accounts relating to her life and times where produced
including an appearance in “The School Master” written by Roger Ascham and
first published in 1564 and an “Elegy on the Death of Lady Jane Grey” written
by Thomas Chaloner though not published until 1579.
The above indicates there was at least
some popularity surrounding the story of Lady Jane Grey in the second half of
the sixteenth century and that there was probably a need and demand for her
likeness rather that the other alternative candidates also referred to as “Lady
Jayne” from the 1550’s who may not have achieved as much popularity and public
Oil on panel
30 x 24 inches
Previously in the collection of the Rodes Family at
Houghton Hall where it was then moved to Fryston in 1789 when the family opted
to change residence.
When in the collection the portrait appears to have been
identified as an image of Jane Grey where as noted by the Codner family it was
exhibited in the 1866 South Kensington Exhibition as a portrait of her. By 1973 the painting eventually passed to the
collection of Sir John Colville however by this time it appears that the sitter
was then re-identified as the Princess Elizabeth due to similarities with the
portrait of her as princess in the royal collection.
This portrait appears to be an identical copy of the
Streatham portrait with some minor alterations especially around the Jewels
depicted. What is clear from the image
is the sitter appears to depict the same lady wearing an almost identical
costume and seen in the same position though the painting is missing the
inscription in the left-hand corner.
From the image this portrait appears to have been created by a different
artist than that who produced the Streatham portrait, the shading and
definition of the facial feature appear to be of a finer quality than that seen
in the NPG copy which suggest a possible pattern used within a workshop to
create multiple copies by different artists.
Herbert Norris Portrait
Oil on oak panel
Previously in the collection of Herbert Norris scholar and
costume designer from the first half of the 20th century who
produced an in-depth collection of books relating to the history of
Several early photographic images of this painting survive
within the Heniz Archives and where again discussed by the Codner family. Writings on the back of these images do give
us a little information about what was actually known about the portrait and
who Norris thought the portrait to be of.
On one of the images the writing indicates that Norris “acquired the painting
from an unnamed friend who had purchased it in 1870 in a picture shop”
and that the painting had undergone some restoration.
Norris also gives us a
detailed description regarding the colouring used within the painting in his
book “Tudor Costume and Fashion” and identifies the sitter as Lady Jane Grey.
‘Her dress is of nasturtium-red velvet with
sleeves turned back showing a deep peacock blue lining. The yoke and false
sleeve are of the same blue in satin with a cornflower design worked in gold.
Spanish work decorates the inside of the open collar to match the wrist frills
and above it is a second collar of white gauze embroidered in red silk’
Though the description is vague it does give us some
understanding of the colouring of the sitter’s costume which again is described
as red with a cornflower design embroidered with gold thread which again is
similar to the colouring of the Streatham portrait.
Though the portraits current whereabouts is unknown the
fact that it is painted on panel indicates that this is probably an early
copy. The portrait also includes an
inscription which reads “LADYE IANE GRAYE, DIED 1553, AET 17”.
The spelling used within the inscription again gives us an
understanding that it probably is an early image and the date given for Jane’s
death does suggest that the inscription pre-dates September of 1752 the year in
which the Calendar Act of 1751 was initiated.
Prior to this Janes death would have been 12th of February in
the year of 1553 rather than what is today thought of as 1554. The fact that
her death is mentioned at all again demonstrates that this image was made after
Once in the collection of Dr Peter Pickard the master of
the Magdalene College in Cambridge. Only known through an engraving produced in
1790 by Francesco Bartolozzi and some written references made in the late 18th
and early 19th century regarding the college.
The inscription on the engraving indicates that the sitter
in the portrait was thought at this time to be that of Jane Shore (1445-1527)
the mistress of King Edward IV and the inscription reports that it was taken
from “an original picture in the possession of Dr Peckard master of the
Magdalene college Cambridge”. The phrase
original indicates that the painting on which the engraving was based on was
thought to be old for that time.
From the image seen the sitter portrayed does look
remarkably like the sitter seen in the Streatham, Houghton and Norris portraits
though the identification as a portrait of Jane Shore is a puzzling one as the
sitter wears clothing dated to some twenty years after her death. This may just be down to the fact the
original identity of the sitter in the painting had been lost at this point in
time and the painting was simply referred to as a portrait of Jane Shore.
Only known through an early photograph in the Heinz
Archives this portrait is listed as being in the collection of from Mr Robert
Dauntsey at Agecroft Hall, Manchester in 1886. No identification is known for
this sitter however the image does look similar to that seen in the Francesco
This painting is no longer in the collection of Agecroft
Hall today which was sold by the family in 1926 and dismantled and shipped to
Richmond Virginia. It may just be
possible that the Magdalene portrait and Dauntsey portrait are one in the same
as the portrait at the Magdalene college does appear to vanish from the
collection after the death of Pickard.
Though hard to tell from the image stylistically this painting does
appear to be more eighteenth century in approach rather than sixteenth century
however this may possibly be due to over painting and re-touching.
Ink on paper
Currently in the Royal Collection this engraving entitled
Ieanne Gray was probably produced during the early eighteenth century for some
now unknown publication. The sitter depicted is a similar female to that seen
in the other paintings though her position has been flipped.
It appears that a portrait similar to the Streatham
portrait was used for the basis of this image where identical jewels are seen
especially with the scooped necklace. The
incorporation of the sitter’s name in this image again identifies that images
of this composition where actually thought to represent Lady Jane Grey prior to
the identification of the Streatham portrait.
Frustratingly all but two of the five images associated
with the Streatham portrait have not been located to date and without further
study taking place on these paintings to establish dates and order of creation
we are unable to know for certain if one may be a possible life portrait or
that they were all produced within the same time period.
What is for certain is that with the existence of these
further images we can at least establish that the Streatham portrait was based
on an early pattern used to depict Jane Grey whether fictional or taken from a
pre-existing life portrait and no other ‘Lady Jayne’ which in its self is an
interesting historical artefact.
As discussed above Alison Weir did recently discuss the
Streatham portraits similarities with a portrait representing Catherine Parr
purchased by the Philip Mould Gallery in 2005 and exhibited in the “Henry Women
Exhibition” of 2009 at Hampton Court Palace.
Weir is not the only person to discuss this theory, Stephan
Edwards also noting similarities in his 2015 book regarding the portraiture of
Jane Grey and it also appears from documentation held in the sitters file at
the gallery that Susan James the historian who produced the evidence regarding
the Jewels seen in NPG 4451 which led to the re-identification of the image as
a portrait of Catherine Parr in 1996 was also noted to have viewed the portrait
and made comparison with the Regina portrait.
Though undoubtedly a portrait of Catherine Parr as seen
from the inscription applied to the top of the panel the painting underwent
dendrochronology testing in 2005 revealing that the panel on which provided the
surface for the painting dated to the “latter half of the sixteenth century” this ruling out the
possibility of it being a portrait taken from life.
Some similarities are noted within both images especially
around the clothing and jewels worn. This
to me is not enough evidence to prove that the Streatham portrait was in fact
based on this image and there does appear to be some differences between both
Though similar in period and shape the clothing and jewels
worn are painted differently in both paintings especially the large brooch seen
at the front of the bodice. The
pearl necklace seen worn around the neck of both sitters does appear to be of
the same scoop design and construction however a similar necklace is also seen
in the full-length portrait supposed to represent Lady Mary Dudley in the
National Trusts collection which also demonstrates that this maybe down to the
style of the period rather than a unique necklace belonging to Catherine Parr.
There also appears to be some differences between facial
features and hair colour seen as the lady depicted in the CATHARINA REGINA
portrait appears to be more mature than that seen in the Streatham portrait and
especially the Houghton version.
Differences are also observed in the treatment of the embroidery work of
the collar seen in both paintings and Catherine is also missing the lower
billiament of jewels attached to the front of the French hood seen in the
Streatham portrait and its various copies.
One possible reason for the close comparison is the use for
the portraits in the first place.
If indeed the Streatham and CATHERINA REGINA portraits were
produced as part of a set of paintings and not as an individual one-off likeness,
then some similarities in costume composition and jewels may be expected. Due to the survival of multiple copies of both
paintings this does suggest that this was indeed the case and some of the
paintings have been inscribed with the name of the sitter suggesting that the viewer
may not have readily known the person depicted and therefore they were not
produced for immediate family members or associates who may have met the
individual in person.
Portrait patterns where generally used by artists within
the various workshops producing portrait sets in the second half of the
sixteenth century. These where in fact
used to create the basic outline of an individual to produce a likeness.
One good example of this and probably produced around the
same period as the Streatham portrait is the survival of the multiple copies of
the famous portrait of Anne Boleyn wearing her B necklace. All similar in
composition, colouring and style and the sitter is seen wearing an almost
identical costume within each portrait.
Sets of portraits where produced quickly and cheaply within
these workshops and where designed to be viewed from a height or in some cases
fixed into the panelling of a room which in turn required less skill and the fine
detail seen in the paintings produced by Hans Eworth and Holbein. Patterns which may have contained notes on the
sitters appearance where required as process of transferring an image to the
panel quickly and without having to take the time painstakingly drawing it from
Recent research into the production of portrait sets taken
place by the National Portrait Gallery and Dulwich Gallery has indicated that
in most cases these patterns where in fact based on authentic likenesses of an
individual including pre-existing images, woodcuts, engravings and tombstones
from the period. This indicates that
workshop artists went to extreme measures to produce a representation based as
close as possible to the individual depicted.
This does not necessarily mean all images are based on
authentic likenesses and in some cases alternative portraits or depictions of a
sitter represented within a set of paintings have not been located today which
suggest that they may possibly have been made up. It could be argued that these images
including the Streatham portrait where in fact based on a now lost source or
description known at the time rather than the use of one individual to
Due to the differences seen between the Streatham and
CATHERINA REGINA portraits this does suggest that the Streatham portrait was in
fact not based on a portrait of Catherine Parr but may have been based on some
now lost image or source.
This article has not been written to identify that the
portrait is in fact an image of Jane Grey but to show that the identification
of the image is up for debate however, all the scientific analysis and information
regarding the paintings provenance and subsequent copies does indicate that
Jane Grey is the strongest claimant for the identity of the sitter.
It must be remembered that it was in fact painted some
forty years after her execution and therefore is not an authentic likeness of
her though in terms of the iconography relating to this sitter it is most
certainly the closest and earliest image we have at present that gives us the
viewer any idea of what she may have looked like.
Higgins. Charlotte, “rare portrait of Lady Jane Grey or just an appallingly bad
image, The Guardian, 16th January 2006
Weir. Alison, History Revealed Magazine, February 2019,