Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Question from Roland - Follow-up on previous portraits of Lady Jane threads

Hi everyone, this is a follow-up to the past threads on Lady Jane Grey’s portraiture. As we know, the National Portrait Gallery recently bought a portrait of sitter called ’Lady Jayne’ which is said to be of Jane Grey.

See: http://www.show.me.uk/dbimages/chunked_image/2006_0227.JPG

From articles I read, scientific analysis indicated that the ’Lady Jayne’ inscription was added at the same time the painting was done, not afterwards. Thus, it was not slapped on later to ‘enhance’ it as Jane Grey (assuming that it was indeed meant to be of her).

My question is about the other version of this painting.



Does anyone know whether scientific tests have been done on this one, and where this painting is currently located? One source says Houghton Hall in Yorkshire, but I contacted them, and they say it’s not there.



PhD Historian said...

There are three Houghton Halls in England. The one usually associated with the second version of the NPG portrait of Jane Grey is near Sancton in the East Riding of Yorkshire between Leeds and Hull. It was built circa 1760, long after Jane Grey was dead. As stately homes go, it is quite modest. It was owned in the 19th century by the Barons Stourton, and I have seen the portrait referred to as the Stourton Portrait.

However, the Langdales were Roman Catholics and Houghton Hall has (had) a Roman Catholic chapel attached to it, so it would seem a bit odd for that family to own a portrait of a Protestant martyr.

The Langdales in the 20th century owned Houghton Hall through an estate trust (formed in 1926), and its last recorded owner was Elizabeth Joyce Mary Langdale, daughter of the 3rd Baron Manton. She was herself the wife of the 10th Earl Fitzwilliam, who died without male issue. Countess Fitzwilliam died in 1995 and the property passed to distant cousins. If Roland has been correctly informed and the painting is no longer at the Stourton-Fitzwilliam's Houghton Hall, perhaps it was sold when the Countess died in 1995. I have a resource in London and will email him to ask whether he knows.

I have to wonder whether it is perhaps possible that the second portrait is at the other, larger, and better known Hougthon Hall ... the one in Norfolk owned by the Marquesses of Cholmondeley. They are direct descendants of Sir Robert Walpole, the Georgian Prime Minister and a well-known art collector. By the time of his death, Walpole owned almost 500 paintings.

The third Houghton Hall, in Bedfordshire, is a ruin. Though quite difficult to find and well off the main road, it is worth visiting. I was there in 2005. The view from the terrace is lovely.

I will let you know what my London contact says about whether the Stourton Portrait was sold in the past decade or so. But to answer your question about scientific analyses, my guess would be that they have not been done. They are costly to do, and the portrait is of an inferior quality to begin with, so I cannot imagine anyone spending the money for such work when their is so little chance that it would enhance the overall monetary value of the painting.

PhD Historian said...

I should clarify: The surname of the family who held the title Baron Stourton and who owned Houghton Hall, Sancton, was Langdale.

Roland H. said...

Thanksto Phd Historian for the very through answer. Hopefully some more research will be done on the other 'Lady Jayne' pictures to shed some more light on the National Portrait Gallery version.

Do keep us in loop about this, or perhaps in some paper/book you hope to publish on Jane Grey.

Roland H. said...

Hi, just to follow-up, looks like I contacted the Houghton Hall in Norfolk, not in Yorkshire, by mistake:


Thanks PhD Historian - for the clarification that there is more than one.

I'll see if I can get in touch with the right one.

Roland H. said...

Speaking of Jane's portraiture, the young lady aged 18 at Yale (which David Starkey thinks is Jane Grey), has also been proposed to be of Katheryn Howard.

See: ‘Jaarboek’, 2000 issue. ‘Susanna Horenbout, Levina Teerlinc, and the Mask of Royalty’ by Susan James and Jamie Franco.

The evidence is weak to be frank. It’s based on the age of the sitter (age 18), and an argument that the acorns and oxlips attached to her brooch are symbolic.

The acorns are supposed to represent Henry VIII (as his doublet was decorated with oaks leaves in a miniature of him attributed to Lucas Horenbout), and the oxlips are supposed to refer to East Anglia - the seat of the Howards.

PhD Historian said...

First, an update on the Houghton Portrait. My art dealer contact in London say he thinks that version of the portrait may have been sold by the Langdales of Houghton Hall about 20 years ago, and he believes its current location is "officially" considered "unknown." Roland, have you heard anything from Houghton Hall at Sancton, Yorkshire?

Regarding the article that Roland mentions ... I am not able to find it using the Internet. I even tried some of the subscription-only databases that I have access to, without success. I would be keenly interested in reading the article, however, since it apparently also mentions the portrait at the Met that has come up in the Q&A on my own website. Can you provide a direct URL, Roland?

From the limited details in your post, Roland, I have to agree that the evidence is very weak for suggesting that the sitter is Katherine Howard. I do think the flowers look very much like oxlips, and that is perhaps the most likely identification for them, much more likely and specific than the vague category "gillyflowers." Well done!

Oxlips are sometimes associated with sleep (Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (though Shakespeare may have conflated oxlips and cowslips), and they are symbolic of the Keys of St Peter, a Catholic icon. Oxlips were noted in the 19th century for being a plant "of the eastern counties" and not of Norfolk in particular. "East Anglia" includes numerous counties that are seats of other noble families, so the vague association with East Anglia seems to me exceedingly tenuous.

But Roland's example of the James et al article is perfect evidence of a point I have long made regarding portraiture identification: Making a reliable positive identification of a sitter is all but impossible in the absence of some kind of solid evidence. Identification of species of flowers (gillyflowers? oxlips? what are they?) and the varied symbolism of those flowers is not as reliable as documentation assocaiting the portrait with a person, whether that documentation is a uniquely identifying coat of arms or heraldic badge included within the portrait or some account book listing payment to the artist for work performed. Considering the many thousands of women of age 18 years with some wealth, the list of possible candidates for the Yale miniature is simply massive.

Roland H. said...

Hi PhD Historian,

Thanks for info about the Lady Jayne portrait. The Houghton Hall I contacted was the one in Norfolk, but they had no idea what I was refering to. I had wanted to contact the one in Yorkshire, but could not find an address.

The ‘Jaarboek’ article was sent to me from a friend in Germany. ‘Jaarboek’ is apparently the yearbook(?) for some Dutch museum. I have a paper copy, so
I don’t think it was ever online.

If you can't find it online or elsewhere, I can scan you a copy. I`m aware that you run the somegreymatter.com website, so I can e-mail it to you there privately. Let me know if that’s ok.

A last thought - I agree, I think it is going overboard attributing symbolism to every single flower (or jewel) that appears in an old portrait. The sitter may have worn
that particular flower or jewel simply because for it looked nice.

Tamise said...

PHD Historian – The Streatham portrait received quite a lot of publicity and it is a shame that the owners did not contact the National Portrait Gallery about it. That is assuming the portrait still exists. Although maybe they did and did not want the publicity?

Roland – Would it be ok for PHD Historian to forward the article to me please? I would love to read it.

PhD Historian said...

Roland, I would be delighted if you could send the article to me.

Roland H. said...

Hi PhD Historian, I will forward the article as soon as I can to you via Jane Grey site.

Hi Tamise - Once I get the article to PhD Historian by e-mail, you can contact him, and get it from him - if that's ok with PhD Historian.

Tamise said...

Roland - Thank you very much!

PhD Historian said...

Roland has kindly forwarded the article by Susan James and James Franco, and it made for very interesting reading. Ms James and her colleague clearly did extensive research in preparing the article.

They make a very plausible argument for attributing the Yale miniature to a member of the Horenbout family of artists, possibly Susanna Horenbout, based on the style of the lettering of the sitter's age (lettering styles are often used to identify artists) and on the manner in which the arms of the figure are depicted. They date the miniature to the first years of the 1540s (as did I), whereas Starkey had dated it to 1553.

Less convincing is her argument that the sitter is Katherine Howard. The suggestion that the oak leaves and acorns symbolize Henry VIII is plausible, though tenuously so. The assertion that the flowers are oxlips rather than gillyflowers is credible, though the notion that they refer to Katherine Howard through their abundance in East Anglia and Norfolk is something of a stretch, in my opinion. They could as easily symbolize any East Anglian family, including but not limited to the Howards of Norfolk, as I noted above.

I think the real value in Susan James's article lies in the evidence and arguments that she musters going against identifying the sitter in the Yale miniature as Jane Grey. The work is too early and is by a different artist than Starkey claims.