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

The Stowe House Portraits

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 Miniature Portrait

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 Thomas Seymour,

Came into the possession of Mrs. Grenville from the collection of her grandfather Charles, Duke of Somerset.[1]

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.

Called Lady Jane Grey by Robert Cooper
Taken From The Manuscript Room Miniature
(c)Heinz Archive London

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 miniature portrait.    

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.[2]

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.”[3]  I have been unable to locate any other information regarding the current whereabouts of this image.

The West Stairs Portrait

The second portrait to be discussed appears in the 1849 sales catalogue for the contents of Stowe House and is described as:

Item 372. A portrait called Lady Jane Grey[4]

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.

Called Lady Jane Grey (c) British Museum

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.

Called Lady Jane Grey (c) Private Collection

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 Portrait

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:

Lady Jane Grey (original).[5]

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.[6]

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 Buckingham.[7]

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.

Althorp Portrait Called Lady Jane Grey in 1817 Engraving appeared in Bibliographical Decameron by Thomas Frognall Dibdin

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[8]

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.

The Jersey Portrait
Katherine Parr
(c) The Earldom of Jersey Trust

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 frame[9]

The painting remained in the Stowe collection, where it was hung in the Private Dining Room. It is described in the Stowe auction catalogue as:

290 Queen Mary, in a black dress, with richly ornamented sleeves-(Holbein)[10]

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 and Jacobean 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.”[11]  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 1996[12] 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.


[1] Stowe A Description of The House and Gardens, 1817, page 52

[2] Catalogue of The Contents of Stowe House, Messrs. Christie and Manson, 1848, page130

[3] Heinz Archive: NPG125400

[4] Foster, Henry, The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated, 1848, page178

[5] Stowe A Description of The House and Gardens, 1817, page 36

[6] Davey, Richard, Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey and Her Times, 1909, page 362

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

[8] Dubdin, Thomas, The Bibliographical Decameron, 1817, page 250

[9] Mr Deacon, Pryor’s Bank Sales Catalouge, 3rd May 1841, page33

[10] Foster, Henry, The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated, 1848, Page176

[11] Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, volume I, page 78-79

[12] James, Susan, Lady Jane Grey of Queen Katheryn Parr, Burlington Magazine, vol. 138, January 1996, Page 20-24

The Duff House Portrait

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.  Zucchero.[1]

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.”[2]  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[3]

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 earlier book. 

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[4].  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.

Lady Jane Grey by Antonis Van Dashorst-Edward Brandus Collection 1908

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.[5]

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.

Unknown Lady
oil on panel
41 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches
(c) Museum of Sheffield

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.

Elizabeth Cary?
oil on canvas
c.1610
William Larkin

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.


[1]Catalogue of The Portraits and Pictures in The Different Houses Belonging to The Earl of Fife, 1798, page 15-16

[2] 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

[3] 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

[4] American Art News, Volume 6, No 24, March 28, 1908, page 24

[5] Electronic communication, Museums of Sheffield, 31st May 2018