- Museum number
Portrait of Elizabeth I, as Princess (identified as 'Lady Jane Grey" on cartouche in drawing); half-length, to front, wearing a cap, small ruff, a double collar of pearls with two long strands, and an ermine-trimmed mantle, in an oval frame, forming part of a composition designed as a sepulchral monument, with an obelisk, a celestial crown and two inscribed labels suspended from garlands, a chair of state, to right, a mourning female supporting a shield of Lady Jane Grey's arms, and to left and right, fluted pilasters and urns topped by burning hearts
Pen and brown and black ink, with blue wash, the features of the sitter tinted in pink
- Production date
- 1748 (circa)
Height: 462 millimetres
Width: 432 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- A study for Vertue's print of 'Lady Jane Grey' dedicated to the Duke of Somerset of 1748 (BM impressions G,9.135 and 1871,1209.1349).
Vertue first noted the original painting from which he made this drawing around 1724 when it was in the possession of Algernon Seymour, Earl of Hertford (later 7th Duke of Somerset) and described it then (in his Notebooks, I, p. 146) as 'a picture of Jane Grey that was beheaded an undoubted Original a picture left by Will in the Family'. In 1740 he noted it again in his pamphlet 'A description of four ancient paintings, Being Hitorical Portraitures of Royal ranches of theCrown of England' (p. 4) when he mentions the painting was brought from Marlborough for his inspection, so the drawing presumably dates between 1724 and 1740. It was made for his engraving (see G,9.135). In 1750 he noted the painting again (Notebooks, V, p. 50) as in the possession of Earl of Hertford at Marlboro - (bro't to London for me to see this picture)' Another drawing by him of this picture was in Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill (see BM Engraved Portraits, II, p. 96, no. 18).
The original painting that Vertue saw passed directly through the Somerset/Northumberland family and is in Syon House. Two other versions (one once in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and now known as the Berry-Hill portrait, present whereabouts unknown, and the Soule portrait, purchased from Christie's 12 Feb. 1954 by Leger as lot 12 'A Girl by Clouet', now private collection) were later believed to be portraits of Elizabeth I as Princess and Roy Strong published the Metropolitan one as a 'borderline case' image of 'Princess Elizabeth perhaps Lady Jane Grey' because 'the full frontal image is entirely consistent with the early Elizabeth iconography and has successors in the 'Coronation' portrait' in his book 'Queen Elizabeth', p. 54, no. 3. This identification was very complicated (for which see Edwards, below). Edward Croft-Murray, then curator of British drawings, amended the title of this work from Lady Grey to Princess Elizabeth to reflect this new attribution (see his typescript catalogue of Early British Drawings in BM (period IIIa)).
Recently, J Stephan Edwards has argued that the Berry-Hill portrait was a prototype for the Syon portrait of Elizabeth and argues that the latter is actually of Lady Jane Grey rather than Elizabeth (see his book 'A Queen of a New Invention: Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England’s Nine Days Queen. '; he has sent an excerpt (email 14 Sept. 2015) which has been placed in the file with the Croft Murray research on this drawing, in the ECM typescript files for Period IIIa). We are very grateful to him for the information he has provided for this curatorial comment. There is now a copy of his book in the P&D library.
Vertue's attribution, in his inscription, of the roundel portrait of the sitter to Hans Holbein the Younger is very improbable and the artist is unknown.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number