The Controversy Between Lady Jane Grey and Feckenham

(c) Private Collection

Artist: John Clarke Hook (1819-1907)

Year: 1845

Title: The Controversy Between Lady Jane Grey and Feckenham

Materials: oil on canvas

Size: 44 ¾ x 34 ¼ inches


A painting depicting a scene from the 10th Feburary 1554.   John Feckenham, confessor to Queen Mary visited Lady Jane Grey in the Tower of London in the hope of converting Jane to the Catholic faith.  The debate that took place between the two individuals was documented and apparently signed in Jane’s own hand.  Within months of her death printed material containing the famous debate were being produced and circulated to demonstrate Jane’s strong religious beliefs in the Protestant faith.

Jane is seen dressed in black, seated at a table and reading from a book on her lap.  She appears in the left-hand side of the painting and the artist appears to have gone to every effort to make Jane look like the child she was.  He also appears to have been influenced by the Wrest Park portrait for the depiction of Jane’s costume.  Standing on the right-hand side is John Feckenham, who holds a large book open on the table. 

The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in 1846 and was described in the catalouge for the exhibition as

1314-The Controversy Between Lady Jane Grey and Feckenham, who was sent to her from the Queen, Two days before her death, to convert her to Romanism.

Feck. “Doth not Christ speak these words, ‘take, eat; this is my body?’ Doth he not say, it is his body?”

Jane. “I grant he saith so; and so he saith, ‘I am the vine, I am the door.’ Doth not St Paul say, ‘He calleth things that are not as though they were?’ God forbid that I eat the natural body and blood of Christ”-Fox’s Martyrs[1]

When Exhibited at the Royal Academy, the below reference was made and published in the Art Union of 1846.

we have overlooked this picture, until our attention was drawn to it little expecting to find such a work in such a position.  Mr Hook is foremost among the young men of ‘mark’ in the profession; he obtained the gold medal at the last distribution; and his productions are always conspicuous for knowledge, ability and original thought.  This picture is not unworthy of him; it exhibits proof of considerable talent; and we are quite sure, if properly seen, would be seen to a great advantage.[2]  

(c) British Museum

An engraving of the painting made around 1848 possibly by Henry Meville is in the collection of the British Museum, London though is not on display.  It was purchased in 1870 from a A.A Burt. 

On completion of the Exhibition, the painting ended up in the collection of Thomas Agnew and Son, Manchester.  It appeared at Christie’s Auction on 12th June 2001, however, went unsold.  The painting again appeared at Christie’s on 6th September 2001 and sold to the highest bidder.

Digital Resources:

[1] The Exhibition of The Royal Academy, MDCCXLVI (1846), page 52

[2] Art Union, 1846, page 188