About Me & This Website

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 time.

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 of improvement. 

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.

Pryor’s Bank Portrait-Lady Jane Grey

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 by Holbein”[1] 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:

“an extraordinary 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”. [2]

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”[3]

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 Stephan Edwards.

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”[4].

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 article.  

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”[5] 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”[6].

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”[7].  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.

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

[2] Davey, Richard, Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey and Her Times. G.P Putnam’s & sons, 1909, page 360

[3] Davey, Richard, Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey and Her Times. G.P Putnam’s & sons, 1909, page 294

[4] Mr Deacon, Pryor’s Bank Sales Catalouge, 3rd May 1841, page 33

[5] https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/31413 accessed 20th May 2018

[6] https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/record?query=mary+magdalene&start=439 accessed 20th May 2018

[7] https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/31414 accessed 20th May 2018 �

The Streatham Portrait Revisited

NPG 6804 (c) National Portrait Gallery, London

Lady Jane Grey – NPG 6804

By Unknown Artist

Oil on oak panel, circa 1590-1600

33 ¾ x 23 ¾ inches

The Streatham Portrait Revisited

“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.”[1]

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[2]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” [3].

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”[4] in her chamber at Chatsworth House. 

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[5] 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 have[6].

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 constructed.

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.  

Provenance and Background

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”[7]. 

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 learning

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

NPG 6804 before conservation (c) NPG Archive

The 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 time.

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 any provenance.

Scientific 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”[8] 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

“a 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[9].

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:

“the 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.”[10]

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 image.

The Houghton Portrait (C) NPG Archive

Other Versions

The Houghton Portrait

Private collection

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.

The Norris Portrait (C) NPG Archive

The Herbert Norris Portrait

Oil on oak panel

Size unknown

Whereabouts unknown

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 costume. 

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”[11] 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’[12]

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 her death.

Francesco Bartolozzi Engraving (C) NPG Archive

The Magdalene portrait

Unknown size

Unknown whereabouts

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.

The Dauntsey Portrait (c) NPG Archive

The Dauntsey Portrait

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 Bartolozzi engraving. 

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.

Ieanne Gray Engraving (c) Royal Collection


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.   

CATHARINA REGIINA Portrait (c) Private collection


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”[13] 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 portraits.

Called Lady Mary Dudley (c) National Trust Collection

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 life. 

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 represent another.

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.

[1] Higgins. Charlotte, “rare portrait of Lady Jane Grey or just an appallingly bad image, The Guardian, 16th January 2006

[2] Weir. Alison, History Revealed Magazine, February 2019, page 40

[3] As above

[4] Lovell.S Mary, First Lady of Chatsworth Bess of Hardwick, 2005, page 193

[5] Walpole Society, Volume VI, 1918, Page 26

[6] Lovell.S Mary, First Lady of Chatsworth Bess of Hardwick, 2005, page 432

[7] NPG Sitters File, registered packet 6804, accessed February 2018

[8] Zarin. Cynthia, Teen Queen Looking for Lady Jane, The New Yorker, October 15th 2007

[9] Electronic communication with Christopher Foley, 8th October 2017

[10] Tyers. Ian, Dendrochronology Survey, 2006

[11] Lady Jane Grey, sitters’ box, Heinz Archives, London

[12]Norris. Herbert, ‘Tudor Costume and Fashion’, published 1938, page 426

[13] Tyers. Ian, Dendrochronology Survey, 2005