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
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
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 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. 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.
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.
Heinz Archive, NPG 104/8/2, Correspondence Received 1917, accessed July 2019
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.
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.
Edwards. John Stephan, A Queen of a New Invention Portraits of Lady Jane Grey,
Old John Publishing, 2015, page 99
Christie’s Auction Catalouge, 12th November 1998, lot 4
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.’ 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. 
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.
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.
Treasures of the Tower Inscription, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, page 14
Brand. John, An Account of The Inscriptions Discovered on The Walls of An
Apartment in the Tower of London, Archaeologia, XIII, Page 68-91
 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
Bayley, John, History and Antiquities of the Tower of London, 1825, page.162
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Catalogue of pictures of David Holt Esquire of Manchester, 14th July
a portrait of Mary Tudor when Princess on behalf of Queen Victoria during the
Christies sale on 24th May 1881, RCIN20944 has caused much debate
among art historians over the years. The
sitter has been identified as at least three different members of the royal
family from the Tudor period, and for around twenty-six years the sitter was
thought to be Lady Jane Grey. Two
artists have been associated with its creation, though no proof has surfaced to
establish a known creator. Due the
sitter once being identified as Lady Jane Grey, I have decided to discuss this
painting on this website.
RCIN420944 depicts a young lady facing full frontal, with grey eyes and light red hair. She wears a bodice of gold damask fabric cut square at the neck and a partlet of contrasting fabric with small figure-of-eight ruff that surrounds her face. A black loose gown with small puff sleeves and false hanging sleeves is also seen worn by the sitter and is fastened at the front with the use of gold aglets. The sitter wears two chains around her neck of goldsmith work and pearls, and suspended from one is a large jewel containing five square cut diamonds and a large hanging pearl. On her head she wears a hair net which again consists of goldsmith work, and a pink and white flower is also arranged within the sitter’s hair. She is depicted on a blue background within a gold boarder. The beginning of an inscription stating “AÑO” is also seen on the left-hand side.
known regarding the early provenance for this painting or how the image became
identified as a portrait of Mary Tudor when Princess. The first documented record concerning the
provenance of this portrait located to date is the sales catalogue for the
collector and poet Samuel Rogers.
Following his death in 1855, his vast collection of art and antiques were
sold as part of an eighteen-day sale commencing on 28th April 1856
at Messrs. Christie and Manson, St James Square. RCIN420944 was sold on the eighth day of sale
and is officially recorded in the catalogue as “lot 960. Princess Mary,
daughter of Henry VIII, after Holbein.”
was purchased by collector Charles Sackville Bale, who appears not to have
questioned the identity of the sitter or artist associated with it. An early photographic image of the portrait
appears in a book published in 1864 by Amelia B Edwards, and the portrait was
also submitted to The Miniature Portrait Exhibition of 1865 at the South Kensington
Museum. Both the book and exhibition
catalogue again refer to the portrait as “Queen Mary I of England, by Holbein,”
with the exhibition catalogue also noting that the portrait was purchased from
the collection of Samuel Rogers.
death of Charles Sackville Bale in 1880, the miniature sold from his collection
and entered the Royal Collection. The
auction took place on 24th May 1881 and again the miniature was
noted as “lot 1420 Mary Tudor, Queen of England, by H. Holbein”
within the catalogue for the sale.
of entering the Royal collection, the sitter’s identity and the artist
associated with its creation was challenged. Lady Jane
Grey was put forward as a possible candidate and the miniature would continue
to be described as a portrait of Jane for the next two decades.
written by Richard Holmes, librarian to Queen Victoria, and published in 1884
in the English Illustrated Magazine does give us some clues as to the reason
for the change of identification. This
article appears to be the first time the portrait was publicly published as an
image of Lady Jane Grey, and the article also included an engraving of the
painting noting Jane as the sitter in its title. Holmes reports the reasons for the change in
identity as follows
“of the painters who must have worked in England between the
time of Holbein and Hillard, a capital specimen has within the last few years
been added to the number of royal portraits.
It is that of Lady Jane Grey, of which we give an engraving. It had passed for many years as a portrait of
princess, afterwards Queen Mary, but it is unlike her in every feature. That it represents a Tudor Princess is
undoubted, as in her hair are the red and white roses. It corresponds with all
that is known of the characteristics of the unfortunate Lady Jane, and fills an
important gap in the series of portraits of the Tudor Line”
What is interesting about the above statement is that Holmes
reports that the sitter depicted in the miniature was thought at that time to
correspond with all that was known of the characteristics of Lady Jane Grey. This then brings about the question as to
what was actually known about Jane’s characteristics at that time. This article
was written prior to the publication of Richard Davey’s biography on Jane in
1909, which contained the only detailed description of a small, freckled and
red haired, Jane Grey entering the Tower of London as Queen on 10th
July 1553, known to date. Today, this
description has been discovered to be a mere forgery. No other description documenting the details
of Jane’s features has surfaced, which suggest that almost nothing was known
regarding what Jane looked like, other than vague references referring to her
as pretty which were made at a later date.
The miniature portrait was
publicly exhibited in 1890 at the Royal House of Tudor Exhibition held
at the New Gallery, London. Within the
exhibition catalogue, the portrait is recorded as coming from the collection of
Her Majesty the Queen and referring to as “1068. Lady Jane Grey. By N.
Hilliard, formerly in the collection of Charles Sackville Bale.” It was probably around this point in time that a red leather label was attached to
the back of the frame noting that the sitter depicted was “Lady Jane Grey/Born
The portrait continued to be displayed as an image of Lady Jane
Grey and was Exhibited in the New Gallery exhibition of 1901 as a portrait of her. In 1906, Richard Holmes again discussed the
miniature in an article written for the Burlington Art Magazine on Nicholas
Lionel Cust, director of the National Portrait gallery,
London, appears to be the first to question the identification of Lady Jane
Grey as the sitter in RCIN420944. In
1910, he produced a privately printed catalogue for the Royal Collection
regarding the miniature portraits held within the Royal Palaces at that
time. In this, Cust dismisses the
identification of Jane Grey and suggests Elizabeth I as an alternative sitter,
noting that the miniature may have been produced by Levina Teerlinc and not
Nicholas Hilliard. Nothing is documented
in the book to inform us as to why Cust came to this conclusion, though it
would be tempting to speculate that he noted the costume worn by the sitter was
a little too late in period to be an authentic portrait of Lady Jane Grey.
The Identification of the sitter as Elizabeth was further strengthened
in 1962 when the Royal Collection purchased another miniature portrait similar
in composition and style to RCIN420944 at Christie’s auction. This miniature is recorded in the catalogue
for sale, taking place on April 10th at Christie’s auction house,
London, as “A Lady, probably Princess Elizabeth, Later Queen Elizabeth I.” A
description also noted that the miniature was painted on a playing card, and seen
on the reverse of is blind stamp consisting of the letter C and a Crown. 
This was immediately associated with a
description made in 1637 of a miniature portrait seen by Abraham Van der Doort,
Surveyor of the Kings Pictures and described in an inventory made of the
collection of King Charles I.
“Item don upon the right lighte in a white ivory box/ wthout
a Christall a Certaine Ladies Picture in her haire/ in a gold bone lace little ruff,
and black habbitt/ lined wth furr with goulden tissue sleeves/ with one hand
over another supposed to have bin/ Queen Elizabeth before shee came to the Crowne.
By an unknown hand”
Upon the purchase of the second miniature by the Royal
Collection, both were thought to depict the same individual. Due to the early Van der Doort description it
was therefore thought that both miniatures represented the young Queen
Elizabeth in the early years of her reign. Both images continue to be
catalogued as Elizabeth I today.
Author Roy Strong was noted not to include either miniature
in his 1963 book entitled Portrait of Queen Elizabeth. He was observed to briefly discuss them in the
1987 revised version Gloriana The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. When discussing both miniatures, he
interestingly notes that “of the two miniatures, one is more certainly of her
than the other.” It could be argued that both images depict
separate individuals rather than a portrait of the same person. There does appear to be significant
differences in the composition and costume worn by both individuals to identify
that one is not a direct copy of the other.
Whoever RCIN420944 depicts will continue to be debated among
art historians, but Lionel Cust was right back in 1910 to question the identity
of the sitter being Lady Jane Grey. There appears to be nothing within the
image to suggest that the portrait was painted of her, and no detailed
description survives today that tells us anything about what she looked
like. This image can now be removed from
any list of potential likenesses thought to depict her.
Messrs. Christies and Manson, Sales Catalogue, April 28th, 1856,
Page 90, lot 960
Christie’s, Sales Catalogue, 24th May 1881, Page 109, lot 1420
Holmes. Richard, The Royal Collection of Miniatures at Windsor Castle, English
Illustrated Magazine, July 1184
For more details on the new finding regarding Davey’s description of Jane see:
Edwards John, Queen of a New Invention, Old John Publishing, 2015, page 177 and
DeLisle. Leanda, Sisters Who Would Be Queen, Harper Press, 2008
Christie’s Sale Catalogue, 10th April 1962, Page 20
O’Donoghue,F.M, A Descriptive and Classified Catalogue of Portraits of Queen
Elizabeth , 1894, page 27, no 7
Strong. Roy, Gloriana The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, 1987, Page 55
The information associated with many portraits thought to
depict Lady Jane Grey is often fragmented. In the case of the Gibson portrait,
only a letter and a photographic image submitted to The Connoisseur Magazine in
1911 exist to inform us that the sitter depicted was thought to be that of Lady
Jane Grey. This portrait has not yet been
located and studied and I have been unable to locate any other information
regarding the provenance of this painting. Neither has any information surfaced
to show that this portrait was ever included in any public exhibition as a depiction
of Lady Jane Grey.
Jane G. Gibson, the then owner of the portrait, submitted a
request to the magazine’s readers for further information regarding the
identity of the sitter and artist associated with this painting. No published replies to her request have been
located, which suggests that unfortunately Gibson did not get the information
she was looking for.
Within her letter, Gibson reported that a scrap of paper was
attached to the back of the painting identifying the sitter as “Jana Graia
Holbein pinxit”. She also noted that the painting was examined
by Sir George Scharf, Director of The National Portrait Gallery, London, who,
she explains “thought it to be a genuine portrait, by the School of Clouet.” Gibson does not, however, recall any thoughts
Scharf had regarding the identity of the sitter. She appears to dismiss the identification of
the sitter as Lady Jane Grey, reporting that the scrap of paper is a “manifest
forgery” and noting that “Jane Grey was a mere child at the time of Holbein’s
death”. Gibson also dismisses Scharf’s
opinion that the painting is associated with the school of Clouet noting that
the work “resembles other painting’s produced by Holbein”. She is correct when expressing doubt over the
identification of the sitter, though the portrait’s association with Hans
Holbein is also dubious.
A large number of portraits held in private collections or
sold at auction were associated with Hans Holbein during the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. That included
a small number of portraits thought at the time to depict Lady Jane Grey. Paintings sold between the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries where simply grouped and associated with the most
famous artists working within the sixteenth century. Little evidence to support the associations
were given by the auction houses, and access to information and research into
lesser known artists was limited. A
search of the Getty Provenance Database shows that a total of 1563 paintings
associated with Holbein and sold at auction between the years of 1800- 1900. It
is highly unlikely that Holbein would have had the time to paint 1563 portraits
during his lifetime, and therefore not all could have been painted by his hand
alone. It is more probable that a number
of the images sold between 1800-1900 were associated with him due to the fame attached
to his name, some similarities in style or as a way of adding value to the
As stated above, Gibson is right when noting that the sitter
seen in the portrait is too old to be a depiction of Lady Jane Grey, though this
does not dismiss the fact that Holbein could have possibly painted a portrait
of her. Holbein did have access to and created
a number of images of Jane’s family members including Margaret Wotton,
Elizabeth Grey, Eleanor Brandon, and Charles and Henry Brandon. This does suggest that he could have possibly
had access to Jane Grey as well, though the likelihood of a portrait surfacing of
Jane by Holbein today very slim. Holbein
died in 1543, and if a portrait was ever to surface painted by him then it most
definitely would have to depict a small child rather than the fully developed
lady seen in the Gibson portrait.
Though the quality of the early photographic image submitted
is poor and some of the finer details are lost, the costume worn by the sitter
does give us some clues as to the period in which the portrait was created. We can see from the image is that the portrait
depicts a young female, painted to below the waist and facing the viewer’s left. Both hands are depicted in front, and four
rings can be seen on her fingers. The
sitter also holds what appears to be a flower in her right hand. On her head she wears an early example of the
French Hood, and her gown has a square cut neckline with large bell-shaped
sleeves and fitted false undersleeves. Two
necklaces of goldsmith work are worn around the neck, and a circular brooch is
pinned to the front of the kirtle and tucked into the bodice of the outer gown.
The exact date on which the French Hood was first worn in
England is unknown, however, it is traditionally thought that this originates
with Mary Rose Tudor, sister to Henry VIII, returning from France after the
death of her husband in 1515. The hood originated in France and was worn
towards the end of the fifteenth century. Prior to its arrival in England, ladies wore
the traditional Gable Hood seen in the many paintings of Elizabeth of York and
Katherine of Aragon. The French Hood
became more popular in England when King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, who
was also noted to have spent a period of time in France.
It would eventually overtake the Gable
Hood in popularity and was worn as a popular item until the end of the
sixteenth century. Slight changes in its
appearance and construction occurred during its popularity that can help us to
identify a possible narrow period in which a portrait was painted.
The hood worn by the sitter in the Gibson portrait has
elongated side panels stretching to just beyond the jaw-line and is similar in
style to the image seen above left. This
portrait of Isabella of Austria painted around 1515 shows the French hood in
its early stages of development and around the time the hood is thought to have
been introduced to England. By the
1530’s, the front shape of the hood changed slightly, and the side panels
became shorter in appearance, ending just below the ear. Upper and lower billaments were also used to
add decoration. This can be seen in the famous
image of Anne Boleyn above middle. By the 1540’s, the side panels of the hood
were more concaved in appearance rather than the longer version seen in the
Gibson Portrait which shows us that the sitter in the Gibson Portrait is
wearing a hood that was still in its early stages of development when the
portrait was painted.
Though it cannot be known for certain until the portrait is
located and studied further, the style of costume worn by the sitter is more
consistent with that worn during the early part of the sixteenth century, prior
to the 1530’s. If the portrait is English,
then it most certainly cannot be a depiction of Lady Jane Grey, as the costume
seen is not something that would have been worn by her during her lifetime. The
Gibson portrait can now be removed from any list of potential likenesses
thought to depict Lady Jane Grey.
The Connoisseur Magazine, vol XXXI, September-December 1911, page 250
Sold at Christie’s auction, London, on 9th December 2016, lot 151 was rightfully described as a portrait of Katherine de Vere, Lady Windsor (1540-1600) and associated to the artist known today as Master of The Countess of Warwick. What is not commonly known about this painting is that prior to the 1960’s, it was thought to depict Lady Jane Grey. Due to this painting once being associated with Jane Grey, I have decided to discuss it on this website. This portrait is a good example of how Jane Grey’s name was applied to a sixteenth century portrait, depicting a female sitter, even if the inscription detailing facts about the sitter did not match with what was known about Jane.
The Arkwright portrait shows a lady, painted to just above
the waist and facing the viewer’s left. She has auburn hair that is pulled away
from the face, and her eyes are blue. The
sitter wears a black loose gown/night gown, with large puffed short sleeves and
a high collar. This style of gown was
popular in England from the 1530’s onwards. It was worn as an alternative to
the tight-fitted French Gowns with the low square necklines and large sleeves. Generally worn over a kirtle by both the
middle and upper class lady, this gown was easier to put on independently due
to its front fastening and was a comfortable gown to wear during the day or when
in the bedchamber as informal wear. During the 1560’s the loose gown became
tighter and more fitted around the bodice, much like that seen in the Arkwright
portrait. An embroidered chemise is also
seen worn under the gown. This is embroidered using black and gold thread and
incorporates the use of an acorn within the design. A small figure-of-eight ruff is worn
surrounding the face. This is also
embroidered with black work and gold thread.
On her head, she wears a French hood with an upper and lower billament
of goldsmith work containing gemstones and pearls. The traditional black veil
is also visible falling from the back of the hood. A small cross suspended from a pearl necklace
is seen at the neck, and she holds with her left hand a large pendant suspended
from a larger necklace of goldwork. The
sitter is depicted in front of a brown background, and a contemporary inscription
in the top left-hand corner has been added identifying the sitter’s age as
twenty-four and the year as 1567.
The artist associated with the Arkwright portrait is an anonymous
painter who is known to have produced several portraits of female sitters
during the second half of the sixteenth century. We do know that he worked in England between
the years of 1567-1569 and that he also painted a portrait of Anne Russell,
Countess of Warwick, now at Woburn Abbey.
As a result, other works thought to have been produced by this artist
are simply grouped under the attribution of “Master of The Countess of Warwick.”
The only evidence I have been able to locate to date which shows
us that this painting was indeed thought in the past to depict Jane Grey is an
early photographic image stored in the Heinz Archives, London.
This photograph shows the Arkwright painting prior to modern cleaning and
restoration. What is seen from the above
image is that an inscription was added to the panel surface on the left-hand side
at some point to inform the viewer that this portrait was supposed to be of Lady Jane Grey.
This inscription no longer survives on the panel surface today. This suggests that during the recent cleaning
process it was identified to be a much later addition, and it was removed from
As with many of the other portraits thought to represent Jane
Grey, no information has been located about the Arkwright portrait to inform us,
the modern-day viewer, when and why this painting was thought to depict her. It is possible that her name was simply
attached to the Arkwright portrait in the nineteenth or early twentieth century
due to a high demand and need for a physical image of Jane Grey. During the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Jane’s popularity was at its height. Many
published biographies, plays, and paintings depicting various scenes from her
life were created during this period. This in turn made Jane’s story more accessible
to the viewing public and in some cases captured people’s interest in her as a
historical figure. Her popularity then created a demand for her image and
allowed owners of various portraits that fitted with what was being recorded at
that time to attach her name to their painting with no evidence to support this. Today, some of these portraits are now being
re-evaluated due to easier access to documentation, a better understanding of
the progression of fashion during the sixteenth century, and new scientific
techniques which were not available during the earlier periods.
What is clear from the early photograph of the Arkwright
portrait is that the identification as an image of Jane Grey was made with very
little thought. The inscription clearly
indicates the sitter’s age as twenty-four and the year as 1567. Both the age and the date are inconsistent
with Jane Grey. It may have been possible that the owner who had the Jane Grey
inscription applied to the panel surface may have thought the earlier
inscription to be false and a later addition.
This cannot be known for certain due to missing documentation. Jane Grey’s birth has over the centuries been
debated by various writers due to lack of documentation, and no exact date is
known. It was commonly known and recorded, however, that she died in 1554 and
was sixteen/seventeen years old at the time of her death. This does bring about the question as to why
her name was attached to a portrait with incorrect information.
In a book published by Roy Strong in 1969 entitled The English Icon the provenance for the
Arkwright portrait was briefly discussed. Strong records that the portrait was once in
the collection at Hampton Court, Herefordshire and that by 1969 the portrait
was in the collection of David Arkwright Esq, who was noted to live at Kinsham
Hampton Court Castle, as it is known today, dates to the
fifteenth century and was home to the Coningsby family from 1510 until 1810. The
castle and estate were then purchased by John Arkwright (1785-1858), the great
grandson of the cotton-spinning industrialist Sir Richard Arkwright. The estate remained in the family until it was
sold by Sir John Stanhope Arkwright (1872-1954) in 1910. John Stanhope Arkwright then purchased
Kinsham Court, Herefordshire, and it appears he had taken the portrait with him.
David Lyndon Arkwright (1911-1983) inherited Kinsham Court from his father in
1954. He died without ever marrying or producing issue in 1983, leaving Kinsham
Court and its contents to his mother’s great niece Mrs. Susan Wood.
Two years after Susan Wood inherited Kinsham Court, the
portrait appears for the first time at auction on 19th July 1985, when
it was sold by Christie’s Auction House, London as a portrait of Katherine de
Vere. By 2016, the portrait was once again up for public auction, and it was
again described as a portrait of Katherine de Vere, Lady Windsor
It appears that prior to 1969 the Arkwright portrait was compared
to an almost identical image thought to be by the same artist and now in the collection
of the Marquess of Bute. That painting uses the identical individual portrait
image seen in the Arkwright portrait, though the sitter is painted three
quarter length and is incorporated into a family group. The Bute Family Portrait includes a contemporary
inscription made by the artist identifying the year in which the portrait was
painted and the sitter’s ages. A later
inscription has also been added to the panel surface that identifies the sitter’s
as Edward Lord Windsor, and his lady,
daughter to the Earl of Oxford. Their children, Lord Frederick Windsor, Lord
Thomas Windsor, and two younger brothers.
Though this inscription is a later addition, it does appear to be an
early one. In some cases, inscriptions
that included the names of the sitters where applied to a portrait at some
later period in time by other family members in hopes of fixing the identities
of the sitters depicted before they passed from living memory. This is very similar to what we do today with
photographs of loved ones. Though Edward
Windsor’s lady is not named within this description, he did marry Katherine de
Vere in 1555. Katherine de Vere was the
daughter of John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford, who is also noted in the
inscription, it was then decided that the Arkwright portrait was mostly likely
to depict Katherine de Vere and not Lady Jane Grey.
NPG018643, Artist Box, Master of The Countess of Warwick
Roy, The English Icon, Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, 1969, page 108
During the early nineteenth century, a small number of portraits
at Stowe House in Buckinghamshire were described as representing Lady Jane Grey.
Today, Stowe House is a Grade I listed building that is open
to the public for tours and that also incorporates a private school. It was the former home of the
Temple-Grenville family and George Nugent Temple-Grenville, who was created the
1st Marquis of Buckingham in December of 1784. The house passed through descent down the
family line. Various auctions of some of
its contents took place due to financial issues, and the family eventually sold
the property in 1921.
The Manuscript Room
Early in the nineteenth century houses across the country
began to open their doors to visitors who were able to take a tour of the
buildings for a small fee. A descriptive catalogue of Stowe House and Gardens
was printed in 1817 and sold for the use of tourists.
Described in this catalogue and referred to as being displayed
over the chimney in the Manuscript Room is a miniature portrait thought at that
time to be a representation of Lady Jane Grey.
The Catalogue reports that the miniature, along with several other
miniature portraits, including one thought to depict Jane Seymour and another of
Came into the
possession of Mrs. Grenville from the collection of her grandfather Charles,
Duke of Somerset.
The Mrs Grenville mentioned is Elizabeth Grenville (1717-1769), daughter of Sir William Wyndham and his first wife Lady Catherine Seymour. Elizabeth married George Grenville (1712-1770) in 1749 and was mother to George Nugent-Temple Grenville 1st Marques of Buckingham. She had inherited a small amount of money from her grandfather Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and it is possible that she had also inherited the miniature portraits as well.
No description of the miniature thought to depict Lady Jane
Grey is given in the 1817 catalogue, but it was engraved by Robert Cooper (died
1828) in the early nineteenth century, along with the other two portraits thought
to depict Jane and Thomas Seymour. These
engravings survive today, and inscribed on each engraving beneath the image is
a statement that the originals are in the possession of the Marquis of
Buckingham at Stowe.
What is clearly seen from this engraving is that the
miniature portrait thought in 1817 to depict Jane Grey is based on the pattern
used to create NPG4451, the Hastings portrait and the Jersey Portrait. The distinctive
crown headed brooch is seen in the engraving of the Manuscript Room Miniature worn
pinned to the front of the sitter’s bodice, and this brooch also appears in NPG4451,
the Hastings portrait, the Jersey portrait and the Van de Passe Engraving. The brooch was used in 1997 as the focus for
the reidentification of NPG4451 as a portrait of Katherine Parr. Today, all portraits relating to this pattern
are now thought to be a depiction of Katherine Parr rather than Jane Grey, and
therefore this rules out Jane Grey as the possible sitter in the Stowe House
It does appear that this miniature was sold on March 15th,
1849 as part of the large thirty-seven day auction of the contents of Stowe
House facilitated by Messrs. Christies and Manson. It appears in the original catalogue for this
sale, under the miniatures section referring to Royal Personages.
Item 3. The Lady Jane
Grey, in a crimson dress.
An annotated copy of this catalogue in the collection of the
Heinz Archive, London, records the buyer of the miniature as “Lagrange or La
Grange.” I have been unable to locate any other
information regarding the current whereabouts of this image.
The West Stairs
The second portrait to be discussed appears in the 1849
sales catalogue for the contents of Stowe House and is described as:
This portrait was displayed on the west staircase and was
documented in the sales catalogue as being purchased by a R. Berkeley, Esq, who
also purchased several other paintings at this sale. As the portrait is
documented as “called” Lady Jane Grey in the catalogue description, this
suggests that some doubt was expressed in 1848 about the identity of the sitter.
Robert Berkeley Esq (1794-1874) of Spetchley Park, near Worcester, was a descendant of an aristocratic family dating back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Berkeley family owned a large amount of land including Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, which still belongs to living descendants today.
An engraving dating to the nineteenth century that is now in the collection of the British Museum depicts a portrait of a lady wearing clothing that dates to a period much later than that of Jane Grey’s lifetime. This engraving is inscribed at the bottom in pencil. The inscription identifies the sitter as “Lady Jane Grey/ The Marquis of Buckingham/ Private plate”. The Engraving was bequeathed to the British Museum in 1868 from the collection of a Felix Slade (1788-1868), who is known to have been a keen collector, acquiring a large collection of books and prints during his lifetime.
Email communication with the Berkeley estate has confirmed that a portrait matching this engraving and thought to represent Lady Jane Grey is still in their collection today and appears for the first time in an inventory taken in 1893.
What can be seen from the photographic image of this
painting is that the lady depicted most definitely dates to a later period than
that of Lady Jane Grey’s lifetime. The
costume the sitter is wearing is not consistent with the style worn in England
during the period in which Jane Grey was alive.
The portrait dates to the 1650’s when the large ruffs worn across Europe
during the earlier periods were being replaced with the plainer broad lace or
linen collar. The elaborate French fashions worn previously during the reigns
of James I and Charles I were by this later period becoming more sombre in
style and colour.
This portrait also appears continental in style and is probably Dutch in origin. The west stair portrait is close in comparison to a number of portraits by Netherlandish artists such as Rembrandt van Rijh (1606-1669) depicting female sitters in the same manner and a similar style of costume. Though difficult to see in the photographic image, the hood worn by the sitter is similar in style to that seen in several portraits of Dutch origin dating to the middle of the seventeenth century. Catrina Hooghsaet wears a similar hood without the attached vail in her portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1657. During the 1660’s, in England, Ladies began to embrace the fashion of wearing their hair curled and pinned up with the use of jewels as embellishment rather than wearing a hood that had been popular in the past.
How the West Stairs portrait became known as a portrait of
Lady Jane Grey is unknown, and it is highly unlikely that this portrait was painted
to represent Jane Grey in the first place. It is possible that her name was
simply attached to the portrait due to the plainness of dress depicted or that
the frame used for this portrait, which also includes the inscription
identifying the sitter as Jane Grey, was simply reused from another portrait
thought to represent her. It can now be removed from the list of potential
likenesses as it dates to a period of some ninety years after her death and
therefore cannot be an authentic likeness.
The East Hall
The third and final portrait to be discussed appears in the
1817 descriptive catalogue from Stowe House. This book records another portrait
thought to be Jane Grey in the “passage
of the east hall” at Stowe. The
portrait is simply referred to as:
No further description is given of the painting. Since some
of the other portraits are explicitly described in the catalogue as “full
length,” and this one is not, it does suggest the possibility that this
painting was less than full length, perhaps three quarter, half, or bust
length. The use of the term “original” also indicates that in 1817 this
portrait was deemed to be old.
As yet, I have been unable to track the current whereabouts
of this portrait. I have been able to
locate a further two references to a portrait of Lady Jane Grey in the
collection of The Marquis of Buckingham that could possibly be this particular
painting, however. These do give us more
details as to what the portrait actually looked like, and when investigated
further, these also give us some indication as to whether or not this portrait
was a painting of Lady Jane Grey.
The first reference appears in the appendix of Richard
Davey’s 1909 biography on Jane Grey.
Davey describes an engraving of the portrait as:
Lady Jane Grey. From a
portrait in the possession of the Marquis of Buckingham. She wears a velvet
gown open at the throat to display a double chain with a pendant cross. On
table, large gold chalice.
Since this description is inconsistent with the West Stair
portrait and Manuscript Room Miniature, also thought to be Jane Grey, it is
possible that the source used by the unidentified engraver was the “original
portrait in the passage of the east hall.”
The description given by Davey of the East Hall Portrait is of interest
as he does give us a little more information as to what this image looked like.
Another clue appears in 1917, in a magazine article
published in the Musical Courier, which discusses the discovery of the then
lost Pryor’s Bank portrait thought to represent Lady Jane Grey. The article reports:
A portrait somewhat similar,
in which this same chalice figures, is in the collection of the Marques of
From the above descriptions, we see that the East Hall
Portrait was probably similar in look to the Pryor’s Bank portrait. Since no image has as yet been located, I am
unable to discuss the similarities in-depth. However, what is seen from the descriptions is
that both the Pryor’s Bank Portrait and the East Hall portrait included a
depiction of a chalice within the composition.
It is possible that an authentic portrait of Jane Grey could
have been painted that included the use of a chalice within the composition. This does not, however, fit with the general style
of other portraits produced of female figures painted during her lifetime. A number of portraits from this period show that
females where generally depicted by artists in front of a plain background or cloth. This was done to enable the depiction of the
sitter to be the most prominent part of the painting. Latin inscriptions that identified the sitter
age and date in which the portrait was painted were generally added by the
artist, and in some cases a motto or coat of arms as well. Some paintings do survive which also
demonstrate that female sitters were also depicted within a domestic
surrounding that included objects within the composition. These paintings
including one of Princess Elizabeth, now in the Royal Collection, and another
of Lady Mary Dacre. They are rare and are
not as common as those depicting a sitter in front of a plain background.
Since the description of the East Hall portrait mentions the
use of the chalice, I personally err on the side of caution when looking at
this information. As discussed in
previous articles, the iconography of Jane Grey is a difficult and complex
subject due to the large number of portraits and the little information
surviving about them.
It does appear that over the years several paintings once
identified as being of Jane Grey have turned out to be representations of Mary
Magdalene when studied further. As
discussed in my article on the Pryor’s Bank portrait, the use of the golden
chalice in the iconography of Mary Magdalene was popular and was used along with
other artefacts depicted in the paintings as a form of symbolism. Mary Magdalene was commonly portrayed alone,
in isolation reading, writing or playing the lute. The chalice was commonly used to symbolise
the jar of oil used to wash the feet of Jesus. The Symbolism used within
depictions of the Magdalene is similar to the description given by Roger Ascham
in his book The Schoolmaster of Jane
sat alone at Bradgate reading Plato.
This description was commonly used during the nineteenth and twentieth
century by authors and artists when discussing and depicting Jane to
demonstrate that her love of learning had isolated her from her family, who
Ascham notes were out hunting at the time of his visit.
One possible reason for the number of portraits depicting
the Magdalene being confused for that of Jane Grey is the publication in 1817 of
the engraved image of a painting that is known today as the Althorp Portrait.
That image appeared in a book entitled Bibliographical
Decameron by Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847). That engraving was based
on a portrait in the collection of Spencer family at Althorp house which at that
time was thought to be of Lady Jane Grey. That portrait also incorporated the
use of a golden chalice within the composition. Today, it is now thought that
this painting is a depiction of Mary Magdalene. In 1817, Dibdin stated in the
footnote of his book that,
This is the only legitimate portrait of Lady Jane Grey that has yet been made public
This then allowed others who may have owned a similar
portrait depicting a sixteenth century lady close to Jane’s age, reading and
with a chalice, to then attach her name to their painting.
Until the East Hall portrait is located, it cannot be known
for certain whether It is a possible image of Lady Jane Grey or another
portrait of Mary Magdalene that Jane’s name had been associated with.
The Jersey Portrait
Stowe house had a fourth portrait in its collection that in time was to become associated with Lady Jane Grey. It is known today as the Jersey portrait.
This portrait was purchased from the Pryor’s Bank sale on
May 3rd 1841, where it was described in the catalogue as:
Item 509. A panel painting, Queen Mary I., in carved guilt
The painting remained in the Stowe collection, where it was
hung in the Private Dining Room. It is described in the Stowe auction catalogue
290 Queen Mary, in a black dress, with richly ornamented sleeves-(Holbein)
The annotated catalogue records the buyer of this portrait
as a Mr J. Oxford Ryman, and within the same year of the sale this painting
ended up in the collection of the Countess of Jersey. Initially it was thought to have been
destroyed by fire in 1949, but recent research completed by John Stephan
Edwards has confirmed that this portrait did indeed survive the fire.
The Jersey Portraits identity as an image of Lady Jane Grey originates with the purchase of NPG4451 by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1965. Newspaper clippings from the late 1960’s show that almost immediately Roy Strong, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, compared NPG4451 to the Van de Passe engraving, thought at that time to be the only authentic image of Jane Grey, and a portrait in the collection of Lord Hastings, which had been associated with Jane’s name for many years. By 1969, Roy Strong published his book Tudor andJacobean Portraits, in which he also discussed the Jersey portrait under the heading Authentic and Possibly Authentic Portraits. Strong noted similarities between the Jersey portrait and the other images connected to NPG4451 and tentatively suggested that the Jersey portrait was also related to this set and must therefore also be another image of Jane Grey. At that time, Strong also reported that the “face is that of a much older woman.” He dismissed the identity of it being a portrait of Queen Mary I, however, and tentatively put this down to bad restoration. He also noted that the Jersey portrait had been destroyed by fire and that further research was unable to take place.
Research produced and published by Susan James in January
has now established that some of the jewels worn by the sitter in NPG4451
appear in inventories made of Katherine Parr’s jewels in 1550. By June of 1996, the National Portrait
Gallery then opted to reidentify NPG4451 as a portrait of Katherine Parr and
not Lady Jane Grey, as all evidence indicated that the sitter depicted was most
likely to be Katherine Parr. This in turn allowed the other portraits connected
with this pattern to also be reidentified as Katherine Parr.
UPDATE: 20th November 2019
The West Stair Portrait is to be sold from the Berkeley collection on 11th December 2019 by Sotheby’s Auction House. The portrait is referred to as ‘A Portrait of A Lady, Manner of Rembrandt’. Materials are listed as oil on panel and measurements are given as 28 1/4 x 22 inches.
Among the index cards referring to portraits of Lady jane
Grey in the Heinz Archive, London, is a card recording a portrait of her once
in the collection of the Earl of Fife.
Until recently this portrait was thought to have been lost, and to my
knowledge it has not been studied by historians or exhibited in any public
exhibition as a representation of her.
The first record regarding this image located today was
published in a privately printed book from 1798. The book details the large collection of
paintings and portraits belonging to James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife
(1776-1854) across his various properties.
Recorded as being displayed in the large drawing room at Duff House, an eighteenth-century
estate house designed for the family by William, Adam is a portrait of Lady
Jane Grey. The entry reads
item 18. Lady Jane
Grey – half length. This unfortunate lady was forced to accept the crown, 5th
July 1553, and was beheaded 12th February, 1554. She was daughter to
Henry Grey, Duke of Dorset, by Lady Frances Brandon, by Mary queen of
France. She was remarkable for her
learning and virtue. Her husband, Lord
Guildford Dudley, was beheaded on the same day.
This description is vague and gives us very little detail
about the actual painting itself. The description does give us our first clue
that this painting was not a portrait of Lady Jane Grey, however. The artist recorded as creating the painting
is a “Zucchero,” which suggests the portrait was later in period than that of
Jane Grey’s lifetime.
Federigo Zuccaro (c.1540 – 1609), as he is better known, was
an Italian artist who first visited England in 1574. During that visit he was commissioned by
Robert Dudley (Jane’s brother in law) to paint an image of himself and Queen
Elizabeth. Compositional drawings for
both portraits survive today in the collection of the British Museum. If the Duff House portrait was painted by
this artist, then it could not have been an authentic image of Jane Grey since
she had died some twenty years earlier.
Duff House remained in the possession of the Earls of Fife until 1906. The property was then gifted to the village of Banff Burgh in which the house was built by the then Duke of Fife, Alexander William George Duff (1849-1912). Alexander Duff had inherited the property and its contents by descent, and when marrying Princess Louise in 1889, he no longer required the property as a principal residence. Though he did donate the building for the use of the people of Banff, its contents were sold off through auction. The auction was facilitated by Messrs. Christies, Mason and Woods and took place on 7th June 1907. The auction catalogue for this sale records that all “pictures are part of a very large collection which was made by James, Earl of Fife towards the end of the eighteenth century and all were displayed at Duff House.” A portrait thought by the family to depict Lady Jane Grey in 1907 was also included in this auction, and the catalogue does give us our first detailed description.
item 43 Lucas De
Heere, portrait of Lady Jane Grey, in rich flowered bodice with lace cuffs and
collar, green skirt and crimson robe, lace headdress with red bows. Holding a kerchief in her left hand and
leaning her right arm upon the back of a chair.
On panel 41 ½ x 29 ½ inches
Though the artist associated with this
work had changed since the 1798 reference, it is possible that the portrait
sold in 1907 was the same image as that described as being Jane Grey in the
I have as yet been unable to locate any
reference regarding who purchased the painting at the 1907 sale. Due to this, I am unable to track fully the
documented provenance from this portrait, though I do have a suggestion.
A portrait matching the above description does show
up in 1908, one year after the Duff House sale. This painting is described as
being in the collection of French collector and gallery owner Edward Brandus (1857-1937).
Brandus was well known for purchasing Old
Master portraits at a low price and then selling them on to other collectors
via his gallery in New York. The magazine “American Art News” dated
28th March 1908 records the painting in his collection as a portrait
of Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Mor Van Dashorst. A photograph of the portrait was also
included in the article, and though it is not clear from the poor quality image,
when magnified this image does show a female sitter with a flowered embroidered
bodice, holding a kerchief in her left hand and leaning her right arm upon the
back of a chair as described in the 1907 auction catalogue. Various bows are
also seen around the headdress and down the front of the bodice, like those
mentioned in the catalogue of 1907. This then gives us the impression that this
painting was the portrait sold from the Duke of Fife’s collection.
This painting was then sold by the Edward Brandus Gallery in April 1908. It eventually ended up in the collection of a “Mrs Flake” and was subsequently purchased as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey by John George Graves, an English collector, at Christie’s auction in July of 1930.
In 1935 Graves gifted this portrait
along with others from his collection to the Museum of Sheffield. The painting remains in the museum’s
collection today, though it is rightfully catalogued and referred to as a
portrait of an unknown lady rather than its previous title of Jane Grey.
When looking at the colour photograph of this image,
this portrait is closer in comparison to the description given in the 1907
auction catalogue that also refers to the green skirt and red robe. The
measurements of the wooden panel used as the support for the painting also
matches the measurements provided in 1907.
Due to the lack of documented provenance for this painting, it
cannot be said for certain that this is indeed the portrait described as being
that of Jane Grey at Duff House in 1798. This is the closest image related to the
description given in 1907, however, and this painting has also been identified
in the past as an image of Jane Grey.
The costume seen in this painting is again inconsistent with that worn by ladies during Jane Grey’s lifetime, and therefore this is not an authentic portrait of her taken from life or a panting which was created at later period which was meant to represent her. From the style of clothing worn by the sitter, it appears to date towards the end of the sixteenth century or early seventeenth century. There is some evidence to state that the embroidered jacket worn by the sitter was in use toward the later decades of Queen Elizabeth I reign, with several being documented in the inventory made in July of 1600 listing clothing stored within the royal wardrobe. This style of jacket does appear to have become popular between the period of 1600-1620 where it appears in many paintings of female sitters from this time.
The ruff also worn by the sitter gives us
some indication that this was painted after 1600 as it no longer folds into the
figure of eight pleats worn during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and is now seen
as a flat collar which was probably heavily starched or suspended using a wire
frame or “underpropper,” as it was referred at the time. The style of headwear seen in the painting is
also of interest and does not fit with anything worn by English sitters during
this period. This suggests that the painting may possibly be continental in
origin, though until testing is done on the pigment used and the painting is
studied further this cannot be established.
What this painting does demonstrate is
the extreme measures that people would go to when wanting to own a portrait of
Lady Jane Grey. The identification,
given to this portrait was done with little research into the period in which
she lived, and her name was simply attached to an image that did not really fit
with what was known about her at the time. It is
now clear that she can be eliminated as the possible sitter due to the costume
worn by the lady depicted. If the
portrait now in the collection of the museum of Sheffield is in fact the
painting from Duff House, it can, however, be removed from the list of
portraits that potentially depict Jane Grey.
Catalogue of The Portraits and Pictures in The Different Houses Belonging to The Earl of Fife, 1798, page 15-16
 Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters and Historical Portraits, The Property of His Grace the Duke of Fife, Messrs. Christie, Mason & Wood. 7th June 1907, page 2
 Catalouge of Pictures by Old Masters and Historical Portraits, The Property of His Grace the Duke of Fife, Messrs. Christie, Mason & Wood. 7th June 1907, page 10
 American Art News, Volume 6, No 24, March 28, 1908, page 24
Electronic communication, Museums of Sheffield, 31st May 2018
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a small
number of portraits identified as being of Lady Jane Grey and attributed to the
artist Antonis Mor Dashorst where sold through auction houses. Images of all
but one have not been located today. Vague descriptions referring to the
portraits, however, do survive in the auction catalogues.
Before looking at these, we must first examine the artist
and identify whether Antonis Mor would have had access to paint Jane Grey in the
first place. It must be remembered that little information was known regarding
the various artists working during the sixteenth century during the period of
sales for these paintings.
Paintings sold between the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries where simply grouped and attributed to the most famous names of
artists working within the sixteenth century known at that time. Little evidence to support the identifications
was given by the auction houses, and access to information and research into lesser
known artists was limited.
When looking at catalogues from this period, we see very few
paintings attributed to an unknown artist, but a large amount attributed to
Holbein, Clouet, and Mor. Today, with the use of scientific investigation
taking place, most paintings are now being correctly re-attributed to artists
that may be well known, or the artist is explicitly stated as unknown, rather
than the name assigned at some earlier period.
Antonis Mor was born between 1516-1520 in Utrecht and worked
for members of the Habsburg family in Brussels, Portugal and Spain. He died in Antwerp between 1576 and 1577. At some period between 1553-1554, he was sent
by Charles V to London to paint a portrait of Mary Tudor, his future daughter
in law, as part of the marriage negotiations taking place between her and Charles’s
only son, Philip of Spain.
The exact date on which Mor arrived in London to paint
Mary’s image is unknown. It can be established that it was between July of 1553,
the time at which Mary ascended to the throne, and July of 1554, the month
during which Mary married Philip.
During this period, Jane was locked away in the Tower of London. In the November of 1553, she had appeared at
trial and was thereafter classed as a convicted traitor. It would have been highly unlikely that any artist
would have been granted permission by the queen to paint Jane’s image. Yes, security had been reduced in December of
1553, and Jane was allowed to walk in the gardens of the Tower. During the period after her trial Mary granted
some favour to her younger cousin, though Jane was still a prisoner and was
heavily guarded. Some still viewed her
as a threat to Mary’s position due to the Device of the succession produced by
King Edward VI that had named Jane as his heir.
The first portrait to be discussed is known today only through
an image stored in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York. Notes stored along with the image inform us
that this portrait came into public knowledge when it was sold at Christie’s,
London on the 4th July 1927. It
was described in the auction catalogue as:
“Lot 141 – Mor, Head
of Lady Jane Grey, with embroidered dress. Oil on panel 10 x 7 ¾ inches”.
The notes also record the buyer as “Werthemier,” who
purchased the painting for the sum of £15.
This painting appears to
resurface again in 1953 when it was sold at Sotheby’s, but by this period the identification
as a portrait of Jane Grey appears to have been downgraded. It was then
described in 1953 as:
“A portrait of a lady said to be Lady Jane Grey, in black
and gold dress and braided headdress”.
During this sale the portrait was again attributed to Antonis
Mor. It is also recorded to have come from the collection of Emile Wertheimer,
probably the same person who had purchased the Frick portrait in the July of
This painting has not yet been examined by historians when
discussing the iconography of Lady Jane Grey, neither does it appear to have
been exhibited in any public exhibition as a representation of her. Its current
location is unknown, and access to the actual painting is therefore not
What is seen in the photograph is that the portrait depicts
a young female sitter at bust length facing the viewers left. The image shows a
lady wearing what appears to be a Spanish gown or coat (probably edged with
gold) with a high fitted collar and small ruff.
This style of coat became fashionable in England after the marriage of
Mary Tudor to Philip of Spain in 1554. After
this event English fashion was influenced more by the Spanish marriage. The entry into England of Philip and other
Spanish dignitaries allowed others of the court to view new fashions worn by
the Spanish court.
By the 1560’s, ladies had started to abandon the traditional
loose gowns or night gown worn for decades.
These fell loosely from the shoulders to the floor and were usually worn
over a fitted kirtle. English Ladies instead
embraced this new look influenced by the Spanish fashion. This newer garment was generally cut to be
fitted to the upper torso and was worn open, being fastened only at the throat,
as seen in the Frick painting, to reveal an underdress or fitted bodice of a
different colour. It could also be worn completely
fastened from the waist to the neck and slashed at the front to reveal a
The costume seen in the painting is more consistent with
this newer style of garment that became fashionable after the death of Jane
Grey. The false hanging sleeves seen in the painting attached to the gown at
the sleeve head indicate a period toward the end of the 1560’s when this style
of sleeve became favourable and was worn by both men and women. The padded rolls also seen at the sitter shoulders
were becoming more fashionable during this period as a decorative feature and
would become larger in size during the 1570’s.
The style of hair is also of interest as the sitter is
wearing her hair pulled back from her face and arranged into what appears to be
some sort of decorative hairnet. This again indicates a later style worn by
ladies during the reign of Elizabeth I rather than the style worn by ladies
during the reigns of Edward and Mary, when ladies hair was parted in the middle
and worn in an arrangement to surround the face.
It is my opinion from viewing the photograph that this Image may have been
painted over or is painted by another hand than that of Antonis Mor. The Frick
portrait does not correlate with other paintings by Mor and is missing the
finer details seen in other works produced by this artist. The painted treatment of the hair, face and
costume appears not to have been painted from life. This is missing the subtle
shading and highlights seen in other works by Mor which identifies that he was
of a higher skill when using paint to create the illusion of skin tones and
falling fabric than the artist who created the Frick portrait.
To me, it is more characteristic of a painting based on an existing portrait, pattern,
or sketch by another artist of the sixteenth century than that of Mor. This may
then have been copied on multiple occasions within a workshop to create an
image and fill the demand for portraits to be used as decoration within the
home. Workshop portraits were in high
demand towards the end of the sixteenth century, and their creation required a
lesser skilled artist than that of the great masters who may have painted the
image in the first place. This theory is
pure speculation at this time and will not be known for certain until the Frick
portrait is located and studied further, however, the survival of other images
which are close in comparison do suggest this.
The Frick portrait does show some similarities to a group of
paintings depicting unidentified female sitters wearing similar clothing,
including one once thought to depict Anne Boleyn. That painting is now
identified as a portrait of an unknown woman and is in the collection of the Musee
Conde in France.
The Musee Conde portrait is dated to the second half of the sixteenth
century, according to the museum’s website records. Like the Frick Portrait, it is painted on
wood, which does indicate that it may have been painted at a similar period. It is highly likely that the artist who created
the Frick portrait used an image or pattern similar to this painting as a
source of reference when creating the portrait and that the identity of the
original sitter and artist who painted it have been lost, allowing Jane’s name
to be associated at a later point in time.
Until the Frick portrait is located and dendrochronology
testing is done to establish a date of creation, we cannot know for certain whether
this is a genuine sixteenth century painting or is instead one of the many
produced during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when demand for
sixteenth century portraits was at its height.
Further research and testing also needs to take place to establish more
information regarding the possible artist and subsequent related images in
order to understand the Frick Portrait better. Whether or not this portrait is deemed
important enough to have this done is also debatable as all evidence supports a
conclusion that it is not an image of Jane Grey and that it was not painted by
On 14th July 1820, a portrait was sold by a Mr
Bullock of London, and that was formerly in the collection of a Mr David Holt
Esq of Manchester. The catalogue
describes the painting as being by a Sir A. Mor. The entry for the lot is as
“A portrait of lady
jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley in one frame, the latter portrait is the
only one known to exist of Lord Guildford”.
This pair of portraits has yet to be located, and little
information is known about them. The
painting does appear to have been auctioned again in 1833 by Edward Fosters of
London, when it was again referred to as:
“Portraits of Lord
Guildford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Mor”.
In an attempt to locate this image, I have managed to locate
three portraits in collections today that have in the past been associated
with Lord Guildford Dudley, in the hope of one possibly being the double
portrait indicated in the Catalogues. None
of the paintings located contain another image in the same frame and supposed
to represent Lady Jane Grey, which suggests that the portrait sold in
1820 must be treated as a separate image that is unfortunately lost today.
Until located and studied further it can not be known whether
it was indeed an authentic likeness of Jane and Guildford or another image with
those names incorrectly attached.
In an auction that took place on March 11, 1910 at
Mendelssohn Hall of the collection of the late American collector Frederick Charles
Hewitt, a portrait referred to as a depiction of Jane Grey by Mor Van Dashorst
The catalogue for this sale describes the portrait in
“No. 206 – Portrait of
Lady Jane Grey- 42 x 30 ½ inches, the figure is shown three-quarters length,
standing against a dark almost black background, very slightly inclined to the
left, while the eyes gaze full to the front.
The blond hair is softly frizzed and decorated with three jewels and a
hoop of pearls and garnets. The eyes are
hazel-brown, the lips daintily curved and the flesh tones delicately warm. The lace ruff, erect at the back, is drawn
down in front, revealing a little of the neck, on which lies a necklace,
composed of two loops of gold hung with pearls and pearl drop. A geranium-coloured rosette of four petals,
stubbed with an amethyst and pearls, is fastened at the stomacher. The latter is carried down to a point and
bordered with tabs. Its material is the
same as that of the skirt – pearly silk damask with roses and green leaves and
tendrils. Over this dress is a robe of geranium red with slashed sleeves”.
As with the double portrait discussed above, this painting
has not yet been located and only the sales catalogue exists to report that it
was ever thought to be a portrait of Jane Grey.
The detailed description does give us some clues that allow
us to rule out Lady Jane Grey as the sitter depicted in the portrait,
however. This description mentions the
ruff as being “erect at the back.” This indicates that the portrait depicts a
young female painted towards the end of the sixteenth century when ruffs worn
by both men and women where larger in size than the small ones seen in the
1560’s that surrounded only the face. As
the ruff grew and became wider during the 1580’s, support was required to keep it
upright. This consisted of a wire frame that
was attached to the back of the garment and that held the ruff high at the back,
giving the “drawn down in front” look that is described in the description. A good example of this is the many portraits
painted of Queen Elizabeth during the later period of her life. In these, she often wears a full ruff that
surrounds the whole neck and is high at the back and low at the chest. In other cases, such as the Ditchley portrait
seen at the NPG London, the ruff is supported at the back though does not
surround the entire neck and is pinned to the neckline of her dress allowing
the chest to be revealed.
Since the description mentions the use of a ruff that is
“erect at the back,” it is more likely that this portrait was painted after the
1580’s rather than as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey from life.
My name is Lee Porritt, and I have had a keen interest in Tudor
history and the story of Lady Jane Grey from as far back as I can
remember. One of my earliest memories is having her story read to me from
a book entitled “Discoverers and Adventurers” by R.J Unstead, and it gripped me.
I then started to look into her story, and I quickly realised so
little was actually known regarding this figure, and in some cases she was
deliberately deleted from history or classed as a minor figure. This
interest has never really left me. I have always taken a keen interest in any
new work published regarding Jane Grey, especially the new discoveries
surrounding her story that have taken place over the past ten years.
During my teens I became what my family would
probably describe as “obsessed” with locating any image thought to represent
her as a way of identifying what this intelligent child looked like. With the
re-identification of NPG 4451 in 1996, I was shocked that she once again
vanished from sight. I wrote several letters to the National Portrait Gallery
in the hope of understanding this properly.
One thing I have learnt over the years is that, due to a lack of documentation regarding Jane and a lack of an authentic likeness, she has never really gone without a face. From the moment the axe fell in 1554 her story and demand for an image has continued today.
Due to the uncertainty that surrounds her, this
has allowed us the public to put into place our own interpretation as to who
she was and what she looked like.
When looking at the various portraits
identified as her over the period of 460 years, we see how her story and image have
been changed and, in some cases, have been manipulated to fit society at the
I personally think this is a good thing because
if she is seen as a concrete figure with known facts then it could be argued
that her popularity may not be so high today, and with these new discoveries
she continues to be discussed and debated and so is never really at risk of
vanishing from sight.
I have noted over the years a need and demand
from us, the public, to go back to basics regarding what is known about this
individual and what is speculation in order to understand her more fully as an
individual, as well as her place history.
I eagerly followed the hard work produced by
John Stephan Edwards, initially on his website and then re-written in his book
A Queen of a New Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine
Day’s Queen’ published in 2015. Stephan
was to me the first individual to make information regarding the complex
subject of the imagery connected to Jane Grey available to the general public and
to open the whole subject up for debate.
After the publication of his book, I then
started to take afresh look at some of the information I had collected over the
years and that had not necessarily been discussed. I also looked at how this
could be used and made available to continue with the debate.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way stating that I am an expert in this matter. I do not have any training in historical research. However, I have spent a lifetime searching and reading various books, articles, and archives in hope of locating anything relating to Jane Grey and the production of her image.
This in turn lead me to open this blog as a way of presenting to you, my readers, the thoughts and the various information.
It is my hope, by making this information available to you the readers this will in turn allow you to use the comment section or contact section to express your own thoughts and feelings regarding the Iconography of Jane Grey in hope of creating some sort of archive relating to this subject which is accessible and all in one place.
I must say that by doing this I am taking
myself right out of my comfort zone since at an early age I was diagnosed with
dyslexia. At times I have allowed this to hold me back in terms of writing due
to uncertainties regarding stigma and the time it takes me to produce things.
I will apologise in advance for any spelling
or grammar mistakes in any of the articles that make this hard for the reader. But I am open to feedback and will make
changes where suggested. The use of the internet as a forum for writing
is new to me, and I would value any thoughts, tips, and opinions, the in hope
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please remember that your input and comments are welcomed on this site. If you own a portrait thought to be of Lady Jane Grey or feel an image maybe a representation of her please don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact link.