Monday, March 30, 2009

Question from Caroline - Teerlinc minature of Jane Grey and sketch of her mother

Does anyone else detect a family resemblance between the Teerlinc miniature of Lady Jane Grey (as per D Starkey attribution) and the Holbein drawing of her mother Frances Brandon as Marchioness of Dorset?


PhD Historian said...

The Holbein drawing labeled "Marchioness of Dorset" is thought by most art historians and Holbein scholars to depict Margaret Wotton, second wife of Thomas Grey and mother of Henry Grey, not Frances Brandon Grey. Thus there is no possibility of the mother-daughter resemblance you suggest.

But I'm also obligated to point out that Starkey is very nearly alone in thinking that the miniature supposedly by Teerlinc is a portrait of Jane Grey. Virtually no art historical authority agrees with his identification other than Philip Mould, who had a vested interest in Starkey's claim.

Elizabeth M. said...

Is the miniature you are speaking of the one Starkey said was identifiable of jane by the leaves on her brooch? Maybe we have a link to it?

Lara said...

Elizabeth, I believe that's it. Here's the link (labeled "Jane" because that's the discussion it was originally in... I personally think it's Elizabeth, but I'm not an art historian!):

Kathy said...

Did Starkey ever say what he made of the writing on the miniature -- Ano XVIII (age 18?) since Jane didn't live to be 18?

PhD Historian said...

Kathy, Dr Starkey suggested that Jane was "in her eighteenth year" ("Anno XVIII"), and thus what we would today call 17 years old, when she died. Expressions of age varied in the period, and it was not uncommon to describe a 9 month old infant as "in his first year." Thus a 17 year old girl could correctly be described as "in her eighteenth year."

And I happen to agree with Dr Starkey that Jane was probably in her 18th year, or 17 years old, at the time she died. What we disagree on is when her 17th birthday occurred. For my opinion, see:


Dr Starkey believes that the miniature was probably done in the autumn of 1553 while Jane was a prisoner in the Tower. I strongly disagree. I believe it is exceedingly unlikely that an artist would have been admitted to the Tower to paint a miniature portrait of a condemned woman. No portraits painted of persons while they were prisoners are known. This miniature would be a glaring exception to the rule.

Kathy said...

PhD Historian, very interesting. It is difficult to imagine her having her portrait done while she was in the Tower. Of course there is the later example of the 1st Duke of Monmouth who supposedly had his portrait done after he was executed. But I can't believe anybody would even be interested in getting a miniature done of Jane or received permission to do it.

Joan said...

I don't think it is Elizabeth. (Lara's guess) Weren't Elizabeth's eyes dark-like her mother's? The eyes in the portrait appear blue-gray to me. Also, the hair is a definite blond shade, rather than Elizabeth's reddish color. Lastly, the nose is quite turned up and Elizabeth's was not.

To me the portrait looks more like Mary I in her younger years but I don't think it is her either. But just curious-would it be likely that Mary would be sitting for a portrait around 18 years of age?

Lara said...

If this is indeed a Teerlinc miniature, it would have to have been done after around 1545 (when she came to England), which rules out Mary. There is a record of her being sent to draw Elizabeth in 1551 (which would have been her 18th year) which is one reason I think it may be Elizabeth. But, the nose has always been a problem with me too.

Some of the coloring issues don't bother me as much since her eyes look lighter in some of Hilliard's miniatures too. Same with the hair... it looks red-gold on my screen but I'll have to check what it looks like in the book again... I don't always trust the color-reproduction on my scans - especially the ones from the old scanner.

Regardless of who it is, it is just another one of those fascinating little puzzles that Tudor history like to present us with!

Elizabeth M. said...

I just re-read online the article from the Telegraph of March 6, 2007 in which Starkey reveals his supposition that this may be lady jane. he mentions the brooch she is wearing as being one in the catalog of Lady Jane's possessions at eh British Library, "being of gold with an agate center and bearing the profile of a classical face." Then he talks of the foliage behind the brooch, the gillyflower, a cabbage relative, that was used as the badge of the Dudley, and that Guildford Dudley's nickname was "Gilly."
Could this by Mary Dudley Sidney. She was born c. 1532, so the sitter would have been in her late teens or early 20s when this was painted. They were married in 1551. Maybe this was her. Though that does not explain the brooch, other than maybe Jane, who probably knew the family for a while, gave it to her as a wedding present? Or maybe it was Mary's to begin with and she gave it to Jane?
Starkey's argument about the brooch is intriguing, but I also seriously doubt any painter would have been allowed into the Tower to paint a convicted traitor. That leaves it as a miniature done to celebrate her marriage to Guildford Dudley.
What have some other art historians said about Starkey's supposition?

Lara said...

Oh, I had completely forgotten about the brooch issue! It does definitely raise some questions.

You can see why the "squishiness" of portrait identification drives my scientific mind crazy. I want hard data! :)

PhD Historian said...

Re: the brooch. There are several problems with Starkey's reference to the brooch.

In the first place, the "catalogue of Jane's possessions" that he refers to does not describe any brooch with sufficient verbal clarity or specificity to make it identifiable, let alone the one depicted in the miniature. For the full inventory of jewels borrowed by Jane Grey from the Royal Treasury during her nine-day reign, see

Secondly, the inventory was for items she borrowed and that were returned at the end of her reign, not for items that were her personal possessions both before and after the reign. Thus she cannot still have had any brooch from the inventory at the time Starkey claims the portrait was painted, i.e., months after her reign ended.

Third, the inventory of items contains no fewer than 13 brooches that might ... or might not ... be similar to the brooch in the miniature. What this means is that the style of brooch was very common, so that it is virtually impossible to correlate any vaguely described brooch from the inventory with the brooch depicted in the miniature.

Fourth, the miniature is very small ... less than two inches in diameter. As a consequence, the brooch is about 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch in the painting, and thus much too small to contain any details sufficient to make it specifically identifiable.

Re: Guildford being called "Gilly." There is absolutely no documentary evidence whatsoever to support this notion. It is nothing more than pure speculation on Starkey's part.

As I said in my previous note, no other art historian, other than Philip Mould, has written or spoken publicly in support of Starkey's identification. Quite the contrary, in fact. Tarnya Cooper, an expert curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London has gone on record as doubting the identification. Likewise the curators of the Yale Center for British Art, which actually owns the miniature, have so far declined to accept Starkey's identification. And I was quoted in The New Yorker magazine (October 16, 2007) as saying Starkey is simply wrong.

We will probably never know who the woman really is, but I am absolutely certain that it is not Jane Grey.

Kathy said...

I am curious about something else here. Whether Guildford Dudley was ever called Gilly or not, why does Starkey think that the leaves on the brooch are a gillyflower? The term in English literature from all the way back to Chaucer up through Shakespeare has always referred to carnations. It's difficult to tell on such a small painting, but that greenery certainly does not look like carnations. It looks more like lily-of-the-valley to me. (I've grown both.)

Elizabeth M. said...

Did not Starkey ruffle some feathers when another supposed portrait of Jane was acquired by the national Portrait Gallery for a lot of money? It is of a Tudor era woman in a red dress, found in a house a few years ago, and it was tentatively identified as Lady Jane Grey. Starkey disputes that claim and criticized the NPG for purchasing it.
Has Starkey answered assertions that his claim to the identity of the woman in the miniature is wrong? Has he given any more insights into why he thinks it is Jane Grey, other than the brooch and the foliage?

Elizabeth M. said...

Who is Philip Mould?

Elizabeth M. said...

I wonder if this could be a young Elizabeth? Age 18 would put the date of the miniature at c. 1551-1552.

Elizabeth M. said...

My mind does not want to stop. The date, ano XVIII, assuming that refers to the sitter's age, really narrows it down as to who it could be. Mary Tudor was 18 in 1534--way too early for Teerlinc at the Tudor court. Lady Jane Grey never even saw her 17th birthday. Her sisters, Catherine and Mary, were even younger, born c. 1540 and 1545, respectively. Age 18 would fit for Elizabeth at c. 1551-1552, when Teerlinc was in favor as a court miniaturist.
As for the brooch, it is hard to make out much detail, and as PhD Historian says, this may have been a common type of brooch. Elizabeth was a scholar, and it would not have been unusual for her to wear a brooch with a classical profile (Lady Jane for that matter, either, since she was also a formidable scholar). But if the date refers to the age of the sitter, I think it highly doubtful this could be Lady Jane. My money is on this being a young Elizabeth.

Kathy said...

Philip Mould is an art dealer.

Lara said...

Elizabeth - I'm not sure if you saw my comment about one of the reasons that I think it might be Elizabeth, but here is one thing I find intriguing:

In the ODNB entry for Teerlinc, Roy Strong says that as early as 1551 she was sent to the Princess Elizabeth 'to drawe owt her picture'. (Unfortunately the source he lists is his own book, and of course it is one that my library doesn't have! - I'd guess that it is from Mary's privy purse expenses or something like that.)

It isn't earth-shattering proof of anything, but it is an interesting possibility.

PhD Historian said...

In my opinion, Kathy, Dr Starkey thinks the flowers are gilly-flowers because he wants them to be gilly-flowers. It is a case of the power of suggestion, of seeing what one wants to see rather than what is actually there. I agree with you: the flowers are so exceedingly tiny in the miniature that it is all by impossible to identify a specific species.

And yes, Tudor-era gilly-flowers were related to carnations, also called "pinks."

Yes, Elizabeth, Starkey did indeed "ruffles a few feathers" when he criticized the NPG for spending a large amount of money on the Streatham portrait identified as Jane Grey. Starkey deliberately courts controversy by consciously using harsh language and by being as tactless as possible. He just did so again last week when he criticized the "feminization" of studies of Henry VIII.

But back to the NPG acquisition ... Much as it pains me, I do have to agree with him, at least in part, that it was poor judgment on the NPG's part to spend such a large sum of money on what is clearly an artistically and technically inferior copy done at least 45 years after the subject was dead.

Elizabeth M, Philip Mould owns a large, high-end art gallery in London, and he deals heavily in portrait paintings with massive sticker prices. He mounted an exhibition in 2007 that "introduced" the miniature to the world and first presented Dr Starkey's claim that it was a portrait of Jane Grey. In fact, Dr Starkey was a co-curator of the exhibition. The catalogue for the exhibition is entitled Lost Faces: Identity and Discovery in Tudor Royal Portraiture.

Oh, and Jane Grey did live to see her 17th birthday. See the links above for that discussion.

Elizabeth M. said...

Jane died on Feb. 12, 1554. Was she not born on the same day as Edward VI in 1537? But I have also seen 1536? Or am I getting it confused with Charles Brandon and katherine Willoughby--did they not have a child the same day as Anne Boleyn had Elizabeth? I know there was a baby born on the same day as either Elizabeth or Edward, so maybe I am getting them confused. Having so many books, it's hard to remember where I read things.

Kathy said...

Elizabeth M, no, Charles Brandon and Katherine Willoughby supposedly got married on the same day that Anne Boleyn had Elizabeth.

PhD Historian said...

There is a tradition, one that originated in the nineteenth century, that Jane Grey was born in the same week as Edward VI. Mary Luke, writing in semi-fictional book of 1986, changed "week" to "day." The tradition is simply wrong and not supported by any of the evidence from Jane's own time.

Again, see the following for two recently published articles on Jane Grey's date of birth:

Kathy said...

PhDHistorian, I looked at the portrait again carefully, and though it would be nice to have a large "hi def" version of it, from what I can see, the flowers on the viewer's right look very much like lily-of-the-valley to me. They, of course, are one of the sources (along with irises) of the French fleur-de-lis symbol. If Starkey overlooked that, I'm surprised. He could have linked that to Mary Tudor Brandon as she was the Dowager Queen of France in addition to being Jane Grey's grandmother.

But on the viewer's left of the medallion, what I see looks very much like green acorns, possibly with pin oak greenery in the background (but the background is very iffy). I'm not sure what to make of acorns though.

Is there any possibility that any of this is hawthorne? I'm not familiar with what it looks like, but I know that was a Tudor symbol dating back to the story that after the battle of Bosworth the crown of England was found on a hawthorne bush and presented to Henry Tudor from there. Hawthorne would at least tie it to the Tudors, but not be help much in a positive identification of the portrait.

BTW, I started thinking about this, and while medallions and brooches are fairly common, I don't think I've ever seen another Tudor portrait of any kind that had greenery on a bodice as this one does. It's very interesting.

PhD Historian said...

Kathy, I do actually have a high resolution image of the miniature. The Yale Center for British Art was kind enough to provide me with one back when Dr Starkey was forming his opinion. As a matter of fact, the Philip Mould Gallery asked for my opinion on the miniature before the exhibition opened and before the press releases went out, so I was able to obtain a high-resolution image for study purposes. (And I told them then that I did not think it was Jane Grey ... as did several art historians.)

Lilies of the valley are usually white, usually occur as multiple blossoms ranged in a line along a single stem, and are bell-shaped. Its leaves are much larger than its flower and quite broad.

The flower seen in the miniature is pale yellow, depicted as two or three flowers in a radial cluster at the end of a stem, has multiple tiny but distinct petals, and the leaves are not much larger than the flower itself. They appear to me more like forget-me-nots, except that the latter usually has blue-ish flowers.

Hawthorn is a very interesting idea, one I have not seen put forward yet, but the floral spray on the left is very definitely acorns and oak leaves. The acorns are unmistakable under magnification. Their caps are easily distinguished in the miniature.

I have actually seen other portraits with both men and women wearing greenery pinned beneath a brooch. As a matter of fact, the Yale Center owns another miniature that is often displayed with the one in question, and that second one is a portrait of a man with a spray of ... you guessed it ... hawthorn(!!!) pinned beneath a brooch on his hat. He also holds a vivid red carnation ("pink"). That miniature is by Holbein, is of significantly higher quality (it is absolutely exquisite), and is identified as Sir Simon George. The two are not a "pair," however, so the young woman cannot readily be linked to Sir Simon.

Kathy said...

Thank you, PhD Historian, that was fascinating. And I'm glad it's easier to see in hi res. It makes me doubt Starkey even more though since, from what you say, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of gillyflowers except in Starkey's imagination....

Caroline said... what about the original question? Accepting that the Holbein drawing is of Jane's grandmother rather than mother - does anyone else detect a family resemblance between the two?

Eyes, nose? Interesting that LL is less ready to dismiss the Starkey attribution out of hand and includes the evidence of Teerlinc's activity including that all her miniatures show blue eyes. My perception is that there is more openness towards the attirbution of the miniature as Jane and less vitriole towards Starkey on this British side of the pond. (I'm reminded of Kuhn's Theory of Paradigms reading much of this!)It's not so implausible that a miniature of Jane was commissioned around the Guildford betrothal/marriage (even if completed later). Back to the original question of family resemblance...all in the eye of the beholder of course (as so much else here) but sometimes we can lose sight of the wood for the trees.

Kathy said...


Regarding your last post that asked about the original post, I do not understand which Holbein drawing you are talking about. There is one that is generally regarded as being Frances Brandon. Is that the one you are referring to when you say: "Accepting that the Holbein drawing is of Jane's grandmother rather than mother". Who accepts that? Do you have a reference for saying that the Holbein drawing is Mary Tudor Brandon and not Frances Brandon Grey? I've never seen that one proposed before. And that was not mentioned in your original post. In any case, I don't see any particular resemblance between the two. If you do see one, please point out exactly where you think it is and I will look again.

As for Kuhn's Theory of Paradigms, I think Occam's Razor is more aptly demonstrated here. Tudor portrait identification is not a science but an art, frequently a very difficult one.

PhD Historian said...

All "vitriole" aside, Caroline, I find the entire argument for "family resemblance" to be unsound.

The very notion requires that we accept that all paintings and drawings from the period are of equal artistic and technical skill and thus equally able to convey with absolutely reliable precision the physical attributes of the sitter. But that is clearly not the case, especially in regard to the miniature.

Holbein was a unique talent and unrivaled in his ability to portray individuals with what would today be called "photorealist" technique. The sketch of Margaret Wotton reflects that exceptionally high level of skill.

The miniature, on the other hand, is clearly by a lesser talent. The technical skill and artistic ability are considerably inferior to those of Holbein. The subject is almost two-dimensional in appearance.

And we are not comparing two portraits of the same person by different artists. Instead, we are comparing two portraits by two different artists (with markedly dissimilar skills) of two women of two different and distant generations. While such comparisons of distant people might be entertaining, they are not acceptable scholarly method.

To put it in very concrete terms, imagine buying at a flea market in Boston a photograph of an adult woman dressed in attire obviously from the 1980s. On the back is written a name, nothing more. Now imagine buying another photograph from a flea market in New York City, one of a teenage girl in about 2005. The second is unmarked except for, say, the girl's age written on the back, without a name. Would it be logical or reasonable to assume that because the teenage girl from NYC in 2005 has eyes and a nose similar to those of the adult woman from Boston in the 1980s that the teenager must be, or even might be the adult woman's granddaughter? Or that of all the teenage girls living in NYC in 2005, the photograph must necessarily be of a specific and famous girl because the hair color is the same?

The entire exercise of comparison is, in my opinion, a case self-fulfilling "seeing what one wants to see" rather than a logical, objective assessment.

I do not mean to be rude or dismissive ... I'm just trying to educate and get readers to understand the enormous probabilities and sound logic that mitigate against the likelihood that the comparison is valid and/or that the miniature is a portrait of Jane Grey. The overwhelming body of objective evidence is firmly against identifying the miniature as Jane Grey.

PhD Historian said...

Kathy, for the answer to your question, please refer back to my first response in the thread re: Margaret Wotton, mother of Henry Grey and grandmother of Jane Grey vs Frances Brandon Grey as the subject of the Holbein sketch.

Caroline said...

The modern-day flea market, mass medium photo example is hardly analogous with the tight elite of the Tudor court, in a society where the capturing of any representation was available only to a tiny monority of the society. A certain early 16thC lady has her likeness taken by the pre-eminent artist of the day. Although the drawing is annotated in a later hand, the subject is generally accepted to be the grandmother or mother of a certain girl. A prominent historian correctly or incorrectly identifies a miniature to be of that girl, in this closeknit world. Both images share a rather bulbous nose and distinctive, almost fishlike eyes. Circumstantial evidence only of a family resemblance, but as per Kuhn, prevailing paradigms have to be challenged before knowledge (scientific or otherwise) can move on, especially in the absence of empirical fact. I hold no torch either way for the Starkey attribution - but interesting that the case is considered so closed that thoughtful speculation is so summarily dismissed, especially on a site such as this. But so be it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the gillyflower standing for Guildford Dudley go to the following site and scroll down to no. 14 2nd paragraph which tells how one of the Dudley brothers carved roses for Ambrose, gillyflowers for Guildford, honeysuckle for Henry and Oak leaves for Robert into the wall of the Beauchamp Tower. Also his mother, Lady Jane Dudley was a Guildford, I wonder if that family uses gillyflowers as a symbol.

And also didn't Jane's sister, Catherine Grey, have her portrait painted by Teerlinc. When was that?


Anonymous said...

Did a bit more research(googling) and managed to find a closer view of the portrait. The better view shows the small white gillyflowers toward the right side of the broach and to the left are oak leaves & acorns. Which made me wonder if this could actually be Robert Dudley's wife since oak leaves were his symbol and the gillyflowers would perhaps stand for his maternal Guildford heritage. Then I searched for a portrait of Amy Robsart and discovered someone else also thought it might be her. Of course it is on wiki (shrug)but she was supposedly 18 when she married Robert Dudley.

This same portrait is also called a possible portrait of Princess Elizabeth on Wiki which is where I first found the larger view of it. Here the link:

Though if you click on the possible portrait of Amy Robsart it brings you to the Princess Elizabeth link. Interesting. She's lovely but who is she? Elizabeth, Jane, Amy or someone else.