The Philip Portrait – Does it Change Anything?

When it comes to the iconography of Queen Elizabeth, we have a plethora of surviving portraits from the sixteenth century. In today’s modern society, it must be hard to find an individual who is not familiar with the many images of the pale faced, Queen, decked out in her red wig and trademark pearls.

Many of these portraits are ingrained in the minds of many history lovers as the images of the confident virgin Queen, however these all relate to a period later in her reign when there was a huge demand for her likeness.  It is well documented that during the latter part of her reign Elizabeth herself, became more aware of the power connected to the use of her image.  The painting’s viewed today in galleries and stately homes across the globe are a symbol of royal authority, and in many cases were produced with the use of symbolism to demonstrate that, despite being a woman, Elizabeth was the natural and legitimate ruler of England. Rarely, do we get a glimpse of the human Elizabeth, stripped of all the makeup and regalia, who ascended to the throne in 1558 at the young age of just twenty-five years old. The iconography relating to the early part of her life and reign is a complex subject and portraits of the young Queen are scarce.  In terms of pictorial evidence there is very little available to inform us what the young Queen looked like.

The Philip Portrait was discovered in the late 1970’s, by London art dealer Richard Philip, little has been discussed or documented regarding the history of this painting and its significance as an early image of the young Queen Elizabeth.  In this painting, Elizabeth is depicted as the young fresh-faced monarch, who, by this period had not established the pomp and regalia associated with her later images but, was being represented by artists as the plainly dressed queen, devoted to the matter of religion.   Does this rarely seen portrait tell us anything about the young Elizabeth and does its possible connection to a small number of other paintings, in which the sitter has for many years been debated, tip the balance in favour of these also depicting the young Queen?

The Philip Portrait
Queen Elizabeth I
Oil on Panel
32 x 24 1/2 inches
©Private Collection

The Philip portrait was originally discovered leaning against the back wall in a picture shop in Cheltenham.  Due to significant overpainting the sitter in the portrait had lost its identity altogether and the painting was simply referred to as a portrait of a 1920’s flapper girl.  Art Dealer, Richard Philip recalls its discovery in a later article on the portrait.  He informs us that ‘upon examining the painting he noticed that a small section of the paint on the bottom left-hand side of the panel had begun to fall away. On closer examination he then noted that the exposed underpaint was harder and much older than the modern paint coving the rest of the panel’. Philip then opted to take a gamble and purchased the portrait immediately[1]

On returning to London, Philip sent the portrait to a picture restorer who immediately began cleaning tests. What was revealed beneath the modern paint layers both astonished Richard Philip and the restorer.  Once fully stripped of its modern overpaint the image of a sixteenth century lady, standing full frontal and seen three quarter length appeared.

The portrait was immediately thought, by Philip, to be a painting of the young Queen Elizabeth, however, as with all portrait research, evidence was required, and he began his research to attempt to prove his theory.  The portrait was first sent to Doctor John Fletcher, a pioneer in the use of dendrochronology, who attempted to establish a date of creation. Though, dendrochronology testing was in its infancy in the 1970’s, Doctor Fletcher was able to establish that the panel was constructed with the use of four boards: one board was of similar pattern to two of the three boards used in the portrait of Richard Wakeman by Hans Eworth which was inscribed with the date of 1566.  On further research Doctor Fletcher confirmed that the boards seen in both these paintings were ‘almost certainly’ from the same tree, and he dated the creation of the Philip portrait to the 1560’s. [2]

With an estimated date of creation Philip then approached Roy Strong, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Strong had published a book in 1963, entitled Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, in which he documented a lifelong interest in the iconography relating to Elizabeth I. According to later reports by Philip, Roy Strong was ‘impressed and astonished’ by the discovery referring to it as ‘a major find in the art world’.[3]  Similarities were immediately recognised between the Philip Portrait and other iconography related to the early part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and this apparent similarity has continued to be referred to during subsequent sales of the Portrait.[4]   

As for what specific iconography the Philip Portrait relates to is anyone’s guess. As discussed above, very little has survived in terms of portraiture of the young queen.  Unlike her predecessors, who had employed artists of immense talent such as Hans Holbein, William Scots and unofficially, Hans Eworth to produce portraits.  Elizabeth never officially employed a court painter during the first period of her reign, other than continuing the service of miniaturist and illustrator Levina Teerlinc.  The most famous painted image of the young Queen depicted full-frontal, similar to that seen in the Philip Portrait is known as the Coronation miniature.  In this, Elizabeth is depicted wearing her coronation robes and holding the royal regalia, however, recent research into this miniature and the subsequent larger copy, now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery suggests that both were painted circa 1600, towards the end of Elizabeth’s life and possibly in celebration of her long reign. 

In 1978, the costume Historian, Janet Arnold suggested that both the coronation portraits were, in fact, based on a ‘now lost’ portrait depicting Elizabeth at the time of her coronation in 1559.  Arnold’s evidence for this theory was derived from the fact that the artists representation of the clothing worn by Elizabeth in both images matching contemporary documented evidence describing the items in Elizabeth’s wardrobe.  It was therefore suggested that either the portrait was related to an earlier portrait pattern or that the artist was given access to the clothing worn by Elizabeth on the day of her coronation.[5]

The fact that Elizabeth did not employ an official court painter does not necessarily mean that the demand for her portrait had declined.  Documentary evidence suggests that her image was in high demand from the period of her accession.  Elizabeth herself, appears to have been rather embarrassed about the production of her early images.  For this reason, her secretary, Sir William Cecil drafted a proclamation in 1563.  The draft proclamation announced that a portrait of the new Queen would be made by ‘some special cunning painter’ and that this image must be used when producing copies of the Queen’s likeness. Cecil also acknowledges that the Queen ‘hath bene allwise of her own right disposition very unwilling’ to sit for a portrait and asks that all ‘painters, printers, and engravers to cease production’ of her image until a portrait displaying ‘the natural representation of her Majesties person, favour or grace’ can be completed.[6]

Over the years it has been suggested that the 1563 proclamation refers to a particular portrait known as the ‘Clopton type’ however, it is possible that it could relate to an entirely different version of this portrait altogether. The proclamation suggests that due to a lack of access to the young Queen, artists, printers and engravers were creating images of Elizabeth to an unsatisfactory standard.

Named after Clopton Hall, the previous location of the largest version known to exist.  In this portrait, Elizabeth is depicted in a simple black gown with ermine trim and holds a pair of gloves in one hand and a prayer book in the other, a gold pendant containing a large cut gemstone is suspended from a chain of goldsmith work around her neck.  Several versions of this pattern exist, and those that have undergone scientific investigation have all are dated to the 1560’s.[7]  

The recent discovery and research into an early example of this pattern by London Art Dealer Philip Mould, brings about some very interesting questions.  Mould acquired a copy of this portrait in 2010, and, during scientific investigations on his copy he discovered that hidden under the painted surface was an entirely different image. An x-ray of the portrait was taken that revealed that the composition of this copy had been changed from full frontal, like the Philip portrait, to the image facing the viewers left.  Changes in the position of the sitter’s hands, ruff and sleeves where also noted.  Mould’s copy was also dendrochronological tested, and the most plausible date of creation was established as 1552, which does suggest that his copy was probably the first example of this pattern to be created.[8]

It is hard to ignore the similarities in the features depicted in the Philip portrait and the small number of other paintings associated with the young Elizabeth. The most prominent of these paintings are known as the Soule and Hever portraits and much debate regarding the identity of the sitter depicted in both these painting has been had over the course of time.[9]

Both the Soule and Hever portraits display striking similarities to the Philip Portrait, especially in terms of the face pattern used by the artist. Both paintings also display a similar costume as that depicted in both the Philip and Clopton portraits.  The sitter in the Hever Portrait is also shown holding what appears to be a pair of gloves which again is seen in the Clopton Pattern.  The hoods worn by the sitter do appear to be similar in style, however the hood worn in the Philip portrait is of a different colour and a billament of goldsmith work and pearls has been added.   

In preparation for the publication of his book A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey/Dudley Historian, John Stephan Edwards complied intensive research into both the Soule and Hever Portrait’s.  As the Philip portrait had never actually been associated with Lady Jane Grey, Edwards was noted not to mention this copy in his book   During his research, both the Hever and Soule paintings underwent dendrochronology testing, and it was again established that both portraits dated to the late 1550’s. Edwards also suggests the theory that both the Hever and Soule portraits derive from an earlier, finer detailed painting known as Berry-Hill portrait and that all depict the same individual.  Unfortunately, the Berry-Hill portrait is currently listed as lost and was last seen in 1956, when it was purchased by the Berry-Hill Galleries, New York. Edwards rules out the identification of the sitter being that of Elizabeth in favour of Lady Catherine Grey. During his research he notes that no other potential sitter had been discussed and that the possibility of the portrait representing Elizabeth would have been of greater interest to potential buyers.[10]

The Berry-Hill Portrait
Unknown Lady
Oil on Panel
12 5/8 x 9 Inches
© Metropolitan Museum of Art

Roy strong was also noted to refer to the portraits as ‘Borderline cases’ in terms of fitting in with other iconography relating to the young Queen Elizabeth in his 1963 book, and it perhaps these painting in which Strong refers to on viewing the Philip portrait in the 1970’s . Many illuminated documents relating to the first period of her reign have also been discussed when suggesting Elizabeth as the possible sitter in the Berry-Hill, Soule and Hever Portrait’s. Though yes, some similarities can be seen in these manuscript illustrations It must be remembered that the figures of monarchs created on these documents were meant to be a representation and not a direct likeness. [11]

The first pictorial image we have available today, relating to the period when Elizabeth first ascended to the throne is an illustration produced on a document related to the Michaelmas Celebrations of 1558.  This illustration has been associated with artist Levina Teerlinc and in this, the figure of Elizabeth is inconsistent with the figure depicted in the Philip portrait.  The young Queen is not, yet, crowned and is depicted with the crown suspended above her head.  Her face is turned to the viewers left and, on her head, she wears a black French hood similar in style to that worn by her sister, during her reign.

Detail: 1558 Michaelmas Document
Queen Elizabeth I
© The National Archives, UK

A small number of other illuminated manuscripts produced after Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1559, are, again, all associated with Levina Teerlinc, show an image of the full-frontal young queen, with a small figure-of-eight ruff surrounding her face, very similar to that seen in the Philip, Berry Hill, Soule and Hever portraits.  This may suggest that there was some sort of full-frontal pattern produced of the young Queen which may have been the initial source for these representations during the early part of her reign.

It is my theory that the Clopton portrait type did, in fact, evolve from an earlier image depicting the young Princess Elizabeth, placed full-frontal like that seen in the Berry-Hill, Soule and Hever portrait’s.  The Philip portrait appears to sit directly in the middle of both the Berry-Hill and Clopton portraits, and it could be argued that Clopton portrait was an altered version of the Philip portrait.  The x-ray of Philip Mould’s copy, which shows a slightly altered full-frontal version beneath the painted surface only strengthens this claim.

It may also be possible that the Philip portrait was in turn a ‘pimped up’ version of the Berry-Hill portrait, created by an artist from an early portrait, possibly taken when Elizabeth was still Princess, to make Elizabeth look more regal due to a lack of access to the new Queen and a high demand for her image. If indeed all the sitters in the Berry-Hill, Soule and Hever portrait are the same individual then this would most defiantly tip the scales towards them all depicting Elizabeth.  It could also be argued that 1563 proclamation refers to the Philip and Berry-Hill type rather the Clopton pattern. If Stephan Edwards theory is correct, and the Berry-Hill portrait is the earliest example then there does appear to be a dramatic decline in artistic detail with the subsequent later copies. The 1563 proclamation may possibly be the reason why so fewer copies exist of the full-frontal pattern.  Further research and discussion is most definitely needed into this small group of portraits to identify once and for all if there is any possible connection to Queen Elizabeth and the true identity of the sitter in the Berry-Hill portrait.


[1] Philip. Richard, De-frocking a Flapper Girl, De-Frocking a Flapper Girl | Richard Philp, accesses June 2021

[2] Christie’s Auction Catalouge, Friday March 23rd 1979, lot 155, page 103

[3] Philip. Richard, De-frocking a Flapper Girl, De-Frocking a Flapper Girl | Richard Philp, accesses June 2021

[4] The Philip Portrait first appeared at Christie’s auction in March of 1979. It was subsequently sold again by Sotheby’s in December 2008.  Both catalogues for the sales list similarities between the Philip Portrait and other early iconography of Queen Elizabeth I.

[5]Arnold. Janet, The Coronation Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, The Burlington Magazine, Vol.120, No. 908, Page 727. See also Golding. Elizabeth, Nicholas Hilliard Life of An Artist, Yale University Press, 2019, Page :244-247

[6] O’Donoghue. Freeman, A Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of Portraits of Queen Elizabeth, Dryden Press, 1894, Page ix-x

[7] NPG 4449; Queen Elizabeth I – conservation research – National Portrait Gallery, accessed July 2021

[8] Grosvenor. Bendor, Philip Mould Fine Paintings Catalogue, London 2010

[9] Edwards. John Stephan, A Queen of a New Invention The Portraits of Lady Jane Grey/Dudley, old John Publishing, Page: 157-167

[10] Edwards. John Stephan, A Queen of a New Invention The Portraits of Lady Jane Grey/Dudley, old John Publishing, Page: 157-167

[11] Strong. Roy, Portraits of Queen Elizabeth, Oxford Press, 1963, Page: 53-54

The Paine Miniature – Is it Elizabeth?

Portrait of an Unknown Lady

Introduction:

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

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

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

A picture containing text, gear

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

Description:

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

Inscription:

Detail Image Showing Hands & Ring

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

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

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

Detail Image Showing Inscription

Provenance:

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

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

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

Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A picture containing text, building material, stone

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

Description automatically generated
Detail Image Showing Ring & Ribbon

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


The Frick Portrait


Gabrielle de Rochechouart
(previously called Lady Jane Grey)
Corneille de Lyon
Oil on Panel
©The Frick Art Museum  

Another portrait which has in the past been associated with Lady Jane Grey is currently in the collection of the Frick Art Museum, Pennsylvania.  Today, the museum rightfully lists the sitter as Gabrielle de Rochechouart, Lady Lansac as there appears to be more evidence to support this identification than the sitters previous identification.

The painting depicts a lady facing the viewer’s left and painted to just above the waist. She wears a bodice of black fabric cut square at the neck with small puff sleeves, decorated with pearls.  A partlet of white fabric with a small ruffle is seen at her neck, and over her shoulders the sitter wears the fur of an animal. The sitter wears a large chain of goldsmith work around her neck and pearls and suspended from this is a large jewel containing one gemstone. Pinned to the front of her bodice is a large jewel containing three gemstones and one large hanging pearl. On her head she wears a French hood constructed with the same fabric used for her fitted sleeves. Upper and lower billiaments consisting of goldsmith work and pearls are attached to the hood, and a black veil is seen hanging down the sitters back.

Nothing is known regarding the early provenance for this portrait or how the image became identified as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey. The first record I have been able to locate regarding this portrait and its one-time association with Lady Jane Grey is an auction catalouge for a sale at Christie’s Auction House, London on 28th February 1930. The portrait was listed among the vast collection of antiques and paintings from the collection of a Barnet Lewis Esq.  Lewis died in 1929 and his collection was subsequently sold off at auction. The Frick painting is described in this catalouge as

Lot 94. Lucas De Heere, Portrait of Lady Jane Grey.

In a black dress, with yellow sleeves and jewel ornaments. Oil on panel – 6 ½ in. by 5 ¼ in.[1]

The description given in the catalouge differs from with what is seen in the portrait today. As listed above, the description states that the sitter wears yellow sleeves, however, when purchased by the current owner, it was apparent that the portrait had been heavily over painted during its history. Recent restoration work has taken place on the painting to remove the discoloured varnish and overpaint, resulting in the colour of the sitter’s sleeves being taken back to the original intended colour of pink.

The Frick Portrait
(prior to restoration)
©The Frick Art Museum  

The artist associated with the creation of the portrait, in the 1930 catalouge, is also inconsistent with the dates surrounding Jane Grey’s life. The Flemish painter Lucas de Heere (1534-1584) fled the Netherlands for England to escape religious persecution. He is first recorded in England in 1566, much later than Jane’s death in February 1554, so he is highly unlikely to have painted an authentic portrait of Lady Jane Grey.[2]

The portrait entered the Frick collection when it was purchased from the Wildenstein Galleries, New York by Helen Frick on 16th April 1931.[3]  On entering the collection, the painting was installed in the Librarian’s Office of the Frick Art Reference Library. The identification of the sitter as Lady Jane Grey was immediately challenged, and the Frick portrait was compared to another identical copy once in the collection of the Duke of Sutherland at Stafford House.

Gabrielle de Rochechouart
Corneille de Lyon
Oil on Panel
©Musee Conde

This copy had been donated in 1897 to The Musee Conde by Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale and along with other paintings from the Duke of Sutherlands collection had been associated with the Dutch artist Corneille de Lyon.

Corneille de Lyon was actively working in France from the 1530’s until his death in 1575. He was nationalised as French in 1547 and was employed as the painter to the king under Henry II and Charles IX.  Frustratingly, de Lyon did not sign or date his work, so although this artist is widely documented within sixteenth century records, very few works can be reliably associated with his hand today. [4]

The panel surface of the portrait in The Musee Conde’s collection has been extended, at a later date to include the early inscription detailing the sitters name as GABRIELE. DE. ROCHECHOART. DAME. DE. LANSAC.[5]  It was therefore decided by the curators of the Frick collection that their identical copy must also depict the same individual and not Lady Jane Grey.


[1] Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of the Important Collection of Ancient and Modern Pictures and Water Colour Drawings: The Property of the Late Barnet Lewis, Esq, page 19

[2] Strong. Roy, Gloriana The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, Pimlico, 2003, page 71

[3] Fazio. Carl Vincent, Helen Clay Flick: Architectural Patron & Art Collector, University of Pittsburgh, 1998, page 36

[4] For the most up to date record of work associated with Corneille de Loyn see Dubois de Groer. Anne, Corneille de Lyon, Arthena, Paris, 2003

[5] Dubois de Groer. Anne, Corneille de Lyon, Arthena, Paris, 2003, Page 215

The Skeffington Portrait

Research into sixteenth century portraiture is a complex but fascinating subject. In many cases, the search starts with the surviving painting itself and then continues with the search for any written documentation concerning its provenance and any clues to the possible identification of the sitter.

When discussing portraits that have a history of approximately four hundred and fifty years behind them, it must be remembered that it is hard today to discover a portrait that has not been altered in some shape or form.  Over the years the original painted surface of a portrait may have been repainted due to bad restoration or over cleaning.  Inscriptions and coats of arms may also have been added at a later period in time, and in some cases the composition, original inscriptions and signatures may have been cut down to enable the portrait to fit in a new frame.

In the case of the Skeffington portrait, much of the above has happened.  This portrait has also been identified as at least four separate individuals during its modern recorded history.  Three out of the four sitters suggested have all faced execution, and today the portrait is now identified as an unknown lady.  

Our first documented record regarding this portrait’s survival is a book in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries, London.  This book contains copies of minutes of meetings held by the society during the nineteenth century and records that a portrait thought to depict Lady Jane Grey was presented to the Society by Sir William Skeffington on 6th February 1806.[1]

The portrait presented depicts a lady, seen to just below the waist and facing the viewer’s left.  Both hands are clasped in front of the sitter, and four gold rings can be seen on her fingers.   The sitter has grey eyes and auburn hair that is parted in the middle.  On her head, she wears a French hood constructed of crimson and white fabric with both upper and lower billaments of goldsmith work.  A black veil is also seen hanging down from the back of the hood, and under this she wears a gold coif.  A black loose gown with a fur collar and mutton leg sleeves is worn by the sitter and is fastened to the waist.  Under this the hint of a crimson kirtle is seen, and at her neck and wrists the sitter wears a figure-of-eight ruff which is embroidered with red thread.  The lady also wears a pendant of goldsmith work containing three square cut gemstones and three pearls suspended at her neck.  She is depicted in front of a plain background, and the image is painted on wooden panel.

Unknown Lady Called Anne Askew
Oil on Panel
27 x 21 inches
Associated with Hans Eworth
©The National Trust

Sir William Farrell-Skeffington adopted the Skeffington name in 1786 and inherited the fifteenth century manor house Skeffington Hall in East Leicester.  Prior to his death he began to sell objects off from the estate and eventually sold the house, land and contents in July 1814.[2]

Skeffington presented the painting for sale to the Reverend John Brand, Secretary of the society of Antiquaries. He informed the Society that the portrait represented Lady Jane Grey and was painted by Lucas de Heere.  No information is provided in the minutes of this meeting to inform us why Skeffington thought the portrait was a depiction of Lady Jane, and no information concerning the paintings provenance was recorded.  It appears that Mr Brand immediately challenged Skeffington’s identification as a painting of Jane Grey, noting that a fragment of an inscription can be seen on the top left-hand side of the panel surface which identified the date that the portrait was painted as 1560.  Brand rightfully recalled that the date painted on the surface did not coincide with the death of Lady Jane Grey and suggested that the portrait must in fact represent Jane’s mother Lady Frances Brandon, with Brand noting that she died in 1563.[3]   

One possible reason for the misidentification as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey is the inscription seen on the right-hand side of the panel surface.  This inscription reads ‘Rather deathe / than false of Faythe,’ which suggest that the sitter depicted would rather die or may possibly have died as a result of religious conflict.  The inscription itself appears to have been painted in a slightly different shade of yellow than the other one detailing the year and artists initials on the left side.  This suggests that one of the inscriptions was possibly added at a later date, though scientific testing would be required to establish if this theory is correct.

There is a popular tradition that Queen Mary offered Jane a pardon if she was willing to convert to Roman Catholicism. The tradition appears to have emerged shortly after Jane’s death as a way for Protestants to promote Jane’s dedication to the Protestant cause even when faced with death.  There is no surviving evidence to document that Jane was ever offered an actual pardon if she would convert, but there was indeed an effort made to get her to convert

Jane was visited by John Feckenham, Queen Mary’s personal chaplain, on 8th Feburary 1554.  By this point in her story, Jane had faced trial and had been convicted and sentenced to death as a traitor for accepting the crown and signing herself as queen. Mary was prevented from issuing a pardon because the Spanish demanded that Jane die as a condition of the marriage between Mary and Philip of Spain. Her execution had originally been set for the following day.  Mary was able to try to save Jane’s immortal soul, however, and she sent Feckenham to see Jane with that specific task, to try and convert Jane to Catholicism prior to her death.

Jane’s execution was postponed for three days, and a debate was had between Feckenham and Jane which resulted in Jane staying strong to the Protestant faith rather than relinquishing it.  This debate was recorded and apparently signed in Jane’s own hand. Within months of her death it appeared in printed format, along with a letter written by Jane to her former tutor Thomas Harding in which she condemned him for his change to Catholicism, thus promoting Jane’s strong belief in the Protestant faith.  In 1615, a pamphlet entitled ‘The Life, Death and Actions of The Most Chaste, Learned and Religious Lady, The Lady Jane Grey’ was published in London. This pamphlet contained a copy of the earlier printed debate and it was noted in the introduction that:

Even those which were of the best fame and reputation, were sent unto her to dissuade her from that true profession of the gospel, which from her cradle she had held. Each striving by art, by flattery, by threatening’s, by the promise of life, or what else might move most in the bosom of a weak woman.[4] 

It is quite possible that the inscription seen on the right-hand side of the portrait and the myth that Jane had been offered the promise of a pardon if she was willing to change her faith led Skeffington or a previous owner to believe that the painting must in fact depict Jane Grey. 

The Skeffington portrait was purchased by the Society of Antiquaries and remained in their collection where it was last recorded in 1847.[5]   How the portrait left the Society remains a bit of a mystery, but it was officially recorded as a ‘missing painting’ in one of the more recent publications on its collection.[6]

As discussed above, the portrait disappeared sometime after 1847, but it reappeared again in 1866 when it was exhibited as a painting of Anne Askew in the National Portraits Exhibition from the collection of a Reginald Cholmondeley.[7]  Reginald Cholmondeley’s principal estate was the sixteenth century Condover Hall in Shrewsbury.   On his death the contents of the Hall were sold at auction on March 6th 1897.  The identification of the sitter appears to have changed once again, and by 1897 the portrait was then referred to as:

Item 43. Lucas de Heere, Queen Mary (of Scots), in black with pink-edged ruff and cuffs, cap with gold chain and jewelled badge. Inscribed “Rather Deathe than false of Faythe,” dated 1560.

The portrait was purchased at this auction on behalf of Wilbraham Egerton, Earl Egerton, brother-in law of Reginald Cholmondeley, and was then displayed at Tatton Park.  In 1958 Tatton Park and its contents were bequeathed to The National Trust by Maurice Egerton, 4th Baron Egerton of Tatton, and the portrait remains on exhibition there today. 

It is my opinion that until scientific investigation has taken place on this portrait to establish if the inscriptions are original or added later then the true identity of its sitter may continue to be unknown.   The portrait is currently listed today on The National Trust collections website as an Unknown Lady, called Anne Askew.  As discussed in detail in other articles on this website, the size of the ruff worn by the sitter and the date inscribed on the left- hand side are both inconsistent with the date of both the deaths of Jane Grey and Anne Askew.  The Skeffington portrait can now be removed from the list of any potential likenesses thought to depict Lady Jane Grey


[1] Proceedings of the society of antiquaries of London, volume 1, page 47

[2] A large fifteen-day sale of the contents of Skeffington Hall commenced on 11th July 1814.  William Ferrell-Skeffington moved to London that same year however died less than a year later on 26th January 1815

[3] Proceedings of The Society of Antiquaries of London, vol 1, page 47. John Band appears to have inaccurately listed the date of Frances Grey’s death.  Frances died on 20th November 1559 and not 1563 as listed in these minutes. One interesting point is that John Brand also owned a portrait thought to depict Lady Jane Grey.  The portrait sold on his death at Stewards Auctions, Piccadilly on June 23rd 1807.  It was purchased by the book collector Richard Heber Esq for the sum of eight pounds.  No portrait described as Lady Jane Grey appears in the sales catalogues of Heber’s collection.

[4] The Life, Death and Actions of The Most Chaste, Learned and Religious Lady, The Lady Jane Grey, Printed by G. Eld for John Wright, 1615, page 22

[5] Electronic communication, Lucy Ellis, Museums Collections Manager, Society of Antiquaries, September 2018

[6] Franklin. J. A, Catalouge of Paintings in the Collection of The Society of Antiquaries of London, 2015, page 411-412

[7] Catalogue for the 1866 National Portrait Exhibition page 21.  Anne Askew was burnt as the stake as a heretic in 1546 for refusing to acknowledge that the sacrament was the ‘flesh, blood and bone of Christ’.

The Brocklebank/Taylor Portrait

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

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

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

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

Portrait of Lady Jane Grey

School of Clouet

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

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

Portrait of a Lady

(Said to represent Lady Jane Grey)

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

On panel – 10 in. by 7 ½ [3]

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

History of The IANE Inscriptions

After watching the recent channel 5 television programme ‘inside the Tower of London’ that focused on the story of Lady Jane Grey, I noted that the famous Dudley carvings on the walls of the Beauchamp Tower were discussed as part of the programme.  Not discussed within this interesting documentary were the two other carvings associated with Jane’s story also carved into the walls of the same room.  

In 2018, I finally got the chance to visit the Tower of London as an adult.  Upon seeing the two small carvings in the Beauchamp Tower in person, I was instantly struck with an air of sadness.  To me, these two carvings symbolised so much of the history that had interested me for most of my life, and I knew so little about them.  Over the years, my interest in the story of Lady Jane Grey has led me to read a lot of printed material about her.  I was aware of the survival of the carvings, though I had read very little about the history that surrounds them.

My initial thought had been that the inscriptions had always been known about and that the tradition that they were associated with the story of Jane Grey had travelled down through the centuries.  This in turn prompted me to dig a little deeper in the hope of gaining a better understanding.

The aim of this article is to establish what is known about the two IANE inscriptions and to document some details regarding the history of these important artefacts, as so little has been written about them since their discovery. 

During my research for this article I have been unable to locate any reference regarding the two carvings of Jane’s name prior to the eighteenth century.  According to John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, first published in 1563, Jane was supposed to have written the following two verses into the wall of her apartment with the use of a hair pin.

Do never think its strange,

Though now I have misfortune,

For if that fortune change,

The same to thee nay happen.”

“If God do help thee,

Hate shall not hurt thee;

If God do fail thee,

Then shall not labour prevail thee.”

Fox makes no mention of any other carvings showing Jane’s name within the walls of the Tower of London in his book.  Various searches over the years have been made at the Tower in the hope of locating the above inscriptions noted by Fox, but the house in which Jane is recorded as being held was demolished in the eighteenth century.  It was replaced with the existing building today which stands between the Queens House and the Beauchamp Tower.[1]

The two inscriptions were first discovered in 1796. During this period, the upper room of the Beauchamp Tower was being converted for the use of officers of the garrison.  Prior to this, the room had been used for domestic use, and the walls had been plastered over and painted, thus eliminating any traces of earlier inhabitants.

During the renovations, the plaster was removed from the walls, which in turn revealed a large number of inscriptions etched into the stonework.  On discovery of these, it was immediately noted that a lot of the carvings where associated with prominent figures in history who had been imprisoned within this room at the tower.

Reverend John Brand, Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, was the first to discuss the carvings in a meeting held on 17th November 1796.  Notes from the meeting were published in the Archaeologia Journal in 1800, and this also gave us our first visual view of the inscriptions found.

Within this meeting, Brand discussed the discovery of the inscriptions, referring to them as ‘undoubted autographs made at different periods.’ Brand was also noted to firmly claim that the IANE inscription was made by Lady Jane Grey herself, reporting that this had been done ‘as a statement that not even the horrors of prison would force her to relinquish her title as queen.’[2]  This in turn led to a number of artists creating images of Jane either making the inscription herself or depicted within the room containing an inscription of her name.

It is not known how or why Brand had come to this conclusion as the exact place in which Jane was housed when prisoner at the Tower was documented within the Chronical of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary.  This book was thought to have been written by a resident at the Tower of London who notes that Jane was imprisoned in Partridge’s House and not the Beauchamp Tower. [3]

This claim was eventually corrected with the publication of a book in 1825 by John Bayley.  In this, Bayley discussed the fact that Lady Jane herself was imprisoned in the house of the Gentleman Gaoler on Tower Green, also known as Partridge’s House.  He reports that due to this, the inscriptions could not have been made by her hand, noting that it’s highly unlikely that Jane would have been allowed to spend time in the prison cell allotted to her husband.  Bayley then suggests that the inscriptions were actually made by Guildford Dudley himself or one of his brothers in memory or honour of Jane Grey.[4]

It is Bayley’s theory that sticks today.  It could be argued that if the inscription was made by one of the Dudley brothers, then it might not in fact represent Lady Jane Grey but their mother, who was also called Jane Dudley.  The face that two inscription of the same name survives may represent the two Jane’s within the brothers lives, though it is up to the individual viewer to decide.   


[1] Treasures of the Tower Inscription, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, page 14

[2] Brand. John, An Account of The Inscriptions Discovered on The Walls of An Apartment in the Tower of London, Archaeologia, XIII, Page 68-91

[3] Nichols, J. G, The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers, 1850, page.25

[4] Bayley, John, History and Antiquities of the Tower of London, 1825, page.162

The Portraits of Lord Guildford Dudley

One of the lesser known and in some cases forgotten characters in the story of Lady Jane Grey is her husband Lord Guildford Dudley.  Various articles have been written on the iconography of Lady Jane Grey and the numerous portraits thought to depict her.  Almost nothing has been written relating to the iconography of her husband, which is why I have decided to write and include this article on this website.   

As discussed in previous articles, a small number of portraits held in private collections have been associated with Lord Guildford Dudley over the passage of time. During the research for this article, I have so far been unable to locate any sixteenth century references to a portrait of Lord Guildford Dudley being held in collections.  

The first documented reference located so far to a portrait of him appears in 1820, a portrait sold by a Mr Bullock of London.  This was formerly in the collection of a Mr David Holt Esq of Manchester, and the catalogue for the sale describes the painting as being by a Sir A. Mor. The entry for the lot is as follows:

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[1]

This portrait was again sold in 1833 and has now disappeared from the historical record.

As with Lady Jane Grey, so little is known about her husband. His story has been embellished and exaggerated to enable writers to make the character of Jane Grey appear vulnerable to the manipulation and bullying by others that surrounded her. His story, like that of his wife, has been surrounded by myths with little known today of the actual person.    

Similar to his wife, there is no date recorded to inform us of the exact date on which Guildford Dudley was born.  Traditionally, his year of birth has been recorded as either 1534 or 1536, but recent research produced by Susan Higginbotham suggests that he may have possibly been born between 1537 and 1538, thus making him the same age as Jane Grey or possibly younger.[2]

We also have no detailed description as to what Guildford Dudley looked like.  As discussed in previous articles, the description given by Richard Davey detailing Guildford’s features as he entered the Tower of London with Jane as queen in 1553 has today been proved to be an invention by the author.  We are simply left with vague references to him being “handsome” by his contemporaries which give us nothing in terms of his physical features.[3]

The aim of this article is to look at the portraits that have been associated with Lord Guildford Dudley in the past in the hope of establishing if there is any possibility of any of these being a genuine image painted from life.  Where possible I have included what is known about the provenance of the image in the hope of establishing some documented order.   

The Madresfield Court Portrait
Called Lord Guildford Dudley
Unknown Artist
Oil on Panel
© Madresfield Court

Our first portrait appears publicly in a book published in the early twentieth century entitled “The Tower of London” by Ronald Sutherland Gower.  Traditionally identified as Lord Guildford Dudley, this painting has for many years been displayed alongside another thought to represent his wife Lady Jane at Madresfield Court in Malvern, Worcestershire.  Both portraits have been in the collection of the Earls of Beauchamp since the early nineteenth century.

Neither portrait is an authentic likeness. The portrait thought to represent Lady Jane Grey is discussed in detail by John Stephan Edwards, and it is concluded within his article that the artist who painted the portrait intended it to be a representation of Mary Magdalene and not Jane Grey.[4]    

The portrait thought to represent Lord Guildford Dudley shows a male figure standing to the viewers left with his righthand on hip and his left hand resting on his sword. He wears a light-coloured doublet with high standing collar and a large figure-of-eight ruff.  The sitter has dark hair and wears a black bonnet that includes goldsmith work and two feathers within its decoration.  He is depicted in front of a dark background and in the top left-hand corner is an inscription which reads 1566 Æ SVÆ, 20.

The first questionable aspect of this painting is the inscription. This is inconsistent with the known facts of Guildford Dudley’s life and is dated to some twelve years after his execution in 1554.  It is not truly known how this image became associated with Guildford, though it appears that whoever suggested the identity did not know the year in which he died.   The date is also inconsistent with the costume worn by the sitter, particularly the large circular ruff seen at his neck and the hat worn by the sitter.  This style of ruff dates to the later period of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and is seen in many portraits painted during the 1580’s.  During the 1560’s the smaller figure-of-eight ruff which generally surrounded the face was in common use.  This again suggest that the inscription itself was probably added later and that this painting was not meant by the artist who created it to be a representation of Lord Guildford Dudley.

It is highly likely that Guildford’s name was associated with this portrait with little reason behind it.  Nothing is seen within the painted image to establish that this portrait was ever painted from life or was ever meant to be a depiction of Lord Guildford Dudley.

The Tyntesfield Portrait

The Tyntesfield Portrait
Called Lord Guildford Dudley
Unknown Artist
Oil on Paper Laid Down on Panel
13 x 9 1/2 inches
© The National Trust

Named in this article after its current location, this portrait is now in the collection of The National Trust at Tyntesfield House, though it is not currently on display.

This image depicts a young gentleman with blonde hair, painted three-quarter length and facing the viewer’s right.  He is wearing a black hat with a yellow feather, a black doublet embellished with gold, and a dark fur overcoat with yellow sleeves.  The sitter’s right hand is resting on a sword that is attached to his hips.

This portrait was purchased as a painting of Guildford Dudley by George Adraham Gibbs, 1st Baron Wraxhall (1873-1931).  On his death it passed to his son Richard Lawley Gibbs, 2nd Baron Wraxhall (1922-2001) and was subsequently purchased by the National Trust in 2002.[5]

The National Trust collections website describes this painting as being both British made and created using oil on paper applied to panel.  It is also noted to report that the portrait is probably nineteenth century in origin. Though no scientific investigation has taken place on this image to establish a date of creation, the style of the painting is more consistent with nineteenth century techniques than that of sixteenth century techniques.  

Until a firm date of creation can be established, It is more than likely that this portrait is an imaginary image of Guildford Dudley rather than a sixteenth century painting painted from life or based on a pre-existing image.

The Wroxton Abbey Portrait

The Wroxton Abbey Portrait
Called Lord Guildford Dudley
Unknown Artist
Oil on Panel
13 x 11 inches
© Private Collection

The third and final portrait is the more interesting of the three, due to it being exhibited publicly on at least two occasions as an image of Guildford Dudley. This portrait was also used by the artist Richard Burchett in 1854 as a basis for his depiction of Lord Guildford Dudley when producing the images of the royal Tudor figures for the Prince’s Chamber’s in the Palace of Westminster.[6]

Lord Guildford Dudley
Richard Burchett
1854
© Palace of Westminster

The original painting once again shows an image of a young gentleman, painted three-quarter length and holding a pair of gloves in his right hand, with his left hand on his hip.  The sitter wears a black doublet with large white sleeves, embroidered with gold thread.  Placed over his right shoulder, is a cape of dark fabric with fur and at his neck is a large circular ruff. 

The earliest documentation regarding this image is the exhibition catalogue for the Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857 held in Manchester. The portrait is described in the catalogue as

item 383. Lord Guildford Dudley from the collection of Col North MP[7]

The painting again appears in the National Portrait Exhibition held at the South Kensington Museum in April 1866 where a description was given

Item 191. Lord Guildford Dudley. Colonel and Baroness North – Half-length, small life size, ruff, doublet and surecoat black with dark fur, white gold-embroidered sleeves, gloves in r hand. Panel 14 x 11 inches.[8]

The Colonel North MP listed as the owner of the painting is John North, also known as John Doyle, of Wroxton Abbey.  Wroxton Abbey is a seventeenth-century manor house and was the home of the Pope and North family from 1677 until 1932, when it was leased to Trinity College.  A sale was held of the contents of Wroxton Hall in May 1933 that included the portrait of Guildford Dudley matching the description of the portrait which appeared in the National Portraits Exhibition catalogue, displayed in the Garden Parlour.

Item 690. Small portrait on panel of Guildford Dudley, holding gloves in right hand.  Believed to be the only known contemporary portrait.[9]

What is seen from the image of the portrait is that once again the sitter is wearing a costume that dates to the 1580’s rather than what would have been worn by Guildford Dudley during his lifetime.  Richard Burchett also appears to notice this when creating his image of Guildford for the Palace of Westminster and has adapted his image to fit with a more consistent costume that Guildford would have worn.

On completion of the Wroxton Abbey sale, the portrait then passed into a private collection though was subsequently sold again at auction on 29th September 1993.

As far as I am aware the three portraits discussed above are the only known portraits associated with Lord Guildford Dudley.  As this article shows none contain any clues in favours of the sitter being positively identified as him and so Guildford Dudley remains faceless.


[1] Catalogue of pictures of David Holt Esquire of Manchester, 14th July 1820

[2] Higginbotham, Susan.  How old was Guildford Dudley? https://www.susanhigginbotham.com/posts/how-old-was-guildford-dudley-beats-me/ accessed September 2019.

[3]Edwards, John Stephan, https://somegreymatter,com/lettereengl.htm, accessed September 2019. 

[4] Edwards, John Stephan. A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, Old John Publishing, 2015, Page 137-139

[5] http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/21094 accessed, September 2019.

[6] Wallis, George. The Royal House of Tudor, Cundall and Fleming, 1866, Page 70

[7] https://archive.org/details/catalogueofarttr00artt/page/n449, accessed September 2019

[8]https://archive.org/details/catalogueoffirst00sout/page/n51?q=lord+guildford+dudley+colonel+and+baroness+north, accessed September 2019

[9] E.H. Tipping, Wroxton Abbey Sale, Monday, May 22nd, 1933, Page 24

The Royal Collection Miniature Portrait

RCIN420944
Called Elizabeth I
Watercolour on Vellum Applied to Card
5.2 cm in diameter
©Royal Collection

Purchased as 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.    

Nothing is 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.”[1] 

The portrait 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.

Upon the 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”[2] within the catalogue for the sale.

Within years 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.

An article 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

Engraving From English Illustrated Magazine 1884

“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”[3]

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.[4]  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 1537-Died 1554/Hilliard”

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 Hillard.  

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.

RCIN420987
Called Elizabeth I
Watercolour on Vellum
4.5 cm in diameter
©Royal Collection

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. [5]   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”[6] 

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.”[7]  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.


[1] Messrs. Christies and Manson, Sales Catalogue, April 28th, 1856, Page 90, lot 960

[2] Christie’s, Sales Catalogue, 24th May 1881, Page 109, lot 1420

[3] Holmes. Richard, The Royal Collection of Miniatures at Windsor Castle, English Illustrated Magazine, July 1184

[4] 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 

[5] Christie’s Sale Catalogue, 10th April 1962, Page 20

[6] O’Donoghue,F.M, A Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of Portraits of Queen Elizabeth , 1894, page 27, no 7

[7] Strong. Roy, Gloriana The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, 1987, Page 55

The Gibson Portrait

The Gibson Portrait
Size Unknown
Location Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Arkwright Portrait

Katherine De Vere
Oil on panel
18 1/2 X 13 3/4 inches
(c) Private Collection

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.”

Early photographic image showing Lady Jane Grey inscription.
(c) Heinz Archive

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.[1] 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 the surface.   

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[2].  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 Court.   

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[3]

Edward Lord Windsor and Family
(c) Marquess of Bute

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.


[1] NPG018643, Artist Box, Master of The Countess of Warwick

[2] Strong, Roy, The English Icon, Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, 1969, page 108

[3] https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Portrait-of-Katherine-de-Vere–Lady-Wind/D25D6374F8362979 accessed, 10th April 2019