Artists of Northern Europe, Flemish primitives, Illuminated manuscripts, Original Documents, Portraiture, Renaissance, Royal Portraits, Tudor portraiture

The difficulty identifying 16th portraits of ‘Unknown Ladies & Gentlemen’

In the 19th century the Swiss historian Jacob Burkhardt (1818-1897) pioneered academic scholarship of art and cultural history, demonstrating how a knowledge of the art, literature, architecture and sculpture, politics and the social minutiae of any period would better inform students, and the public’s knowledge of the past.  Even today there are many who think that art history is just looking at pretty pictures, and have no idea of the study involved to understand the science that goes into identifying genuine medieval and early modern portraits from nineteenth century copies, the individual histories of the sitters, the cultural aspects of a period and the people who created them. In order to really understand the mindset of our ancestors you also need to be able to read the original documents, as well as understanding what was involved in a humanist education. When it comes to the latter, then if you are really serious about knowing and unravelling the symbolism contained in many of these paintings, then you also need to read the same books they would have studied, either in translation, or if you are really dedicated in the orignal Greek and Latin.

Picasso stated that “art is the conscience of a nation”.  You only have to consider how modern art offended the Nazi elite, leading to the seizing and destruction of many modern masterpieces.[1] However, Hitler was not the first to foster the destruction of many beautiful works of literature, painting, sculpture, or anything an influential individual found offensive – there have been many Bonfires of the Vanities throughout history.

While we can mourn the loss of these now long gone masterpieces, thankfully today the internet allows us to view many works of art in collections around the world from the comfort of our computer chairs.  In literature Shakespeare’s anonymous Dark Lady, made famous in his sonnets, has still not been identified conclusively, and when it comes to portraits it soon becomes obvious that many are labelled as Unknown Lady or Unknown Gentleman. This is particularly apparent for those from the sixteenth century where provenance is difficult to establish.  This labelling is wonderfully genteel and no doubt reflects the social standing of these individuals.  

Previously any attribution to the identity of sitters relied solely on connoisseurship. George Vertue (1683-1756) antiquarian, engraver and writer of volumes on paintings, architecture and other subjects provided the eighteenth century with a superb history of the art and architecture, and the artists that he had access to.  Vertue’s works were bought by Horace Walpole (1717-1797), who ‘edited’ these volumes adding various attributes to various paintings. Vertue’s notebooks and volumes are a very valuable asset for both the historian and art historian and gives us an insight into the man himself, and the times in which he lived.  However, many of his attributions regarding both artists and sitters of portraits, and subject matter, contained in these eighteenth century volumes have now been proved to be incorrect.

            This article considers four images (of many unknown authors and sitters), that tweak our curiosity.


  1. Oil on Panel in the Royal Collection.  (RCIN 401228) Henry VII and family c 1503-1509

The 1762 volume of George Vertue’s books as edited by Horace Walpole has a description of the engraving of ‘this curious picture’ as originally being taken from Shene [palace?], was then in the Arundel collection until it was sold at Tart-hall in 1719.[2] However, the Royal Collection entry contains the information that Walpole himself bought the original panel in 1773 and it is recorded in his collection at Strawberry Hill.[3]  The actual painting was bought by Queen Victoria in 1883.

Walpole identifies the king as Henry V with his three brothers, Thomas, duke of Clarence; John, Duke of Bedford; and Humphrey Duke of Gloucester.  Catherine de Valois (later spouse of Owen Tudor) kneels ahead of Blanche, Duchess of Bavaria and Philippa, Queen of Denmark (sisters of Henry V) and completely ignores the presence of the two princesses, and one small prince leaving them completely unidentified.  

Another element also ignored are the Beaufort portcullises that adorn the tents, the emblem of Henry VII’s mother, Margaret  Beaufort.  

For anyone with an atom of knowledge of the various emblems used by the Tudors, it is very clear that the symbolism is pointing to the king and queen being Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth.  The children portray both the living and the dead from this marriage, and when this painting was created, sometime between 1503 – 09, not only were Princes Edmund and Arthur, the heir to the Tudor throne, dead, but also two princesses with the loose hair and Henry II’s wife, Elizabeth of York.  

This panel of Henry VII and his family in the presence of St George and two angel may have been set into a wall behind an altar in one of the royal Tudor palaces.[4]  There is a similar image of the kneeling royal family in an illuminated manuscript now in the Bodleian library that has a full page illumination that may well have been inspired by this panel. This time the various Tudor emblems are very much in evidence in the margins.

Folio 1v. Ordinances of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception. c1503. ChristChurch Ms 179. Oxford, Christ Church MS 179:
  • The Yale Miniature: Is it Katharine of Aragon, Mary I, Elizabeth I, Lady Jane Grey, or Amy Robsart?
The Yale Miniature

Recently technical analysis has been undertaken by Polly Saltmarsh on this 16th century portrait miniature of a woman, whose identity is still not confirmed. The use of scientific instruments has allowed us to see under the top surface and by non-invasive techniques to identify the pigments used.  Using these techniques, this brilliant paper has consolidated and proved the original idea of Prof Susan James & her niece Jamie Franco, that this miniature came from the Horenbout workshop.[5]  Since we know that Lucas Horenbout’s sister was also a superb artist and there are distinct anomalies in the letters of this miniature compared to those seen in miniature portraits of Henry VIII by Lucas, then it very probable this is the work of Susanna Horenbout.  What is rarely considered is that as a woman Susanna would have had not required chaperoning to paint either Queen Katharine, the nine year old Princess Mary (NPG Ref 6345), or either of the other two girls suggested in the title.

While the technical analysis of this miniature by Polly Saltmarsh is absolutely superb and has added immensely to our understanding of this miniature, aspects of her attribution to it being Princess Mary are open to challenge.

We have to consider whether there is evidence proving Mary I had blue eyes and a turned up nose.  Hans Eworth painted many portraits of her, including one that was sent to Philip II prior to the marriage where the artist appears to have made the queen prettier than she was in life.  

Mary Tudor, Queen of England, Second Wife of Philip II
Copyright ©Museo Nacional del Prado

Antonis Mor van Dashort, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s official artist, also painted the queen and this portrait of Queen Mary now hangs in the Prado in Madrid. In this, and the subsequent portraits by both Eworth and Mor, Queen Mary’s eyes are all painted as being brown. A painting now in the Kunsthorisches Museum in Vienna is thought to be of Joanna of Castile, Queen Mary’s aunt.  Painted by Juan de Flandres (John of Flanders) this clearly shows Joanna had brown eyes.

Even if Mary’s mother, Katharine of Aragon, had blue eyes as depicted in the Horenbout miniatures, or brown eyes as in the portrait now in the National Portrait Gallery on loan from the Church Commissioners where she has brown eyes, those with even a basic knowledge of genetics will know that brown eye colour is a dominant gene, whereas blue eyes come from a recessive gene.[6]  

Queen Katharine, wife of Henry VIII. c1525/6
Susanna(?)/Lucas Horenbout

Therefore, either eye colour can occur in any offspring, but the brown is more likely if only one parent has blue eyes.  Elizabeth I was noted for having dark eyes like her mother’s. One thing is certain, once eye colour has stablised after birth, it does not change during one’s adult life. Often a baby is born with grey/blue, or blue eyes but due to the action of light if the child is going to have hazel, or other coloured eyes, they change within days after the child has emerged from the darkness of the womb into the light of the world.[7]  Given permissions, and of course money, if it were possible to subject this particular miniature and all the portraits of our first queen regnant to non-invasive methods, we could identify the pigment used by both Mor and Eworth for the queen’s eyes in the various panel portraits.  However, it is unlikely either artist would have used a base pigment as smalt for such a small area of blue just to save some money.

Princess Mary (aged 9)
Susanna(?)/Lucas Horenbout
National Portrait Gallery (NPG 6453)

In the Mor and Eworth portraits of the adult Queen Mary there is no evidence of her having a turned up nose.  The miniature portrait of the nine year old Princess Mary does depict her with a slightly turned up nose, but the medical experts will tell you that a pre-pubescent child’s nose will grow and change shape until the onset of puberty. 

Elizabeth I’s favourite artist ‘in little’, Nicholas Hilliard, writing in his draft treatise of 1598 describes how a ‘well favoured picture after the liffe’ consists chiefly of three features; the eyes, the nosse and the mouth’.  He goes on to say that the ‘nosse [nose] giueth cheef fauour, for one shall neuer see an Ill fauoured face, that hath a weel proportioned nosse[8]  Holbein’s sketches of the adult Lady Audley and a woman labelled the Duchess of Suffolk both have clearly defined upturned noses at the tip similar to the close up detailed analysis of the eighteen year old woman portrayed in the Yale miniature. (Both of these sketches are in the Royal Collections Trust).  

The inclusion of cowslips, and the use of azurite for the background , which is considerably cheaper than lapis lazuli, points the person commissioning this image not being member of the royal family, even one who had been bastardised by her father, or of the nobility.  Having ruled out both the princesses, Lady Jane Grey and Amy Robsart remain as the two remaining candidates .  

Cowslips are a country wildflower associated with weddings in the county of Norfolk, the county where Amy Robsart was born and grew up.  She was married to the seventeen year old Robert Dudley on 4th June 1550, the day after his older brother John married Protector Somerset’s daughter Anne in a lavish ceremony, complete with joust and a large feast.  Both marriages took place at Shene Palace.

The seventeen year old Robert was just a callow youth who married a Norfolk squire’s daughter; not the glittering marriage for him, unlike his older brothers John and Ambrose. The thirteen year old king did attend, and it is thought Sir William Cecil did so too.  The simplicity of the wedding celebrations compared to that of his older brother John, demonstrates that Robsart pére had to foot the bill, in which case the celebrations were never going to be as lavish as those put on the day before by Protector Somerset for the marriage of his daughter to the oldest son of the Earl of Warwick.  

            The later marriage of Guildford Dudley to Jane Grey in May 1553 was, according to the Imperial ambassador writing to Charles V, an occasion of great feasting and celebration at the London residence of the Duke of Northumberland. The weddings of John, Ambrose, Guildford and the betrothal of the very young Katherine Dudley to Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon were all very much a display of the Dudley wealth and status, whereas the marriage between Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart was a tame affair by comparison.  Chris Skidmore thinks the marriage was probably a love match, and since Robert was the third son, having all the problems of lack of funds, title or anything his older brothers might inherit, perhaps being married to the daughter of a wealthy Norfolk gentleman was an attractive prospect.  

When it comes to the analysis of the iconography of the Yale miniature, as Skidmore reminds us, Robert carved his name on his cell wall during his incarceration in The Tower and included an acorn and oak leaves next to it.  The spray of cowslips and the azurite blue of the background, suggests the patron was of a lower social status than the nobility, but sufficiently moneyed to be able to afford to have a talented illuminator paint the portrait of the betrothed bride.  It is possible that either Amy, or her father, commissioned it in order for Amy to give it to Robert Dudley as a gift on the occasion of their marriage.  This would explain the presence of the acorn and also the cowslips, being a reference to the Robsart family’s Norfolk roots.  

Even though the talented Susanna Horenbout was no longer allegedly still active as an artist, she was living in Shene and married to a Gentleman of the Household, so it is more than likely that she would have accepted a commission to paint a portrait miniature of the bride of the third son of the Duke of Northumberland.  If it had been the daughter of the Earl of Dorset, then the use of lapis would be more likely since that family had royal connections of their own, and the use of expensive pigment more likely.  Moreover,  Susanna who had travelled to Cleves in 1540 to accompany Anna, Duchess of Cleves back to England would not have required a chaperone for the intimate undertaking of painting a portrait miniature of either Amy or Jane.

When it comes to the possibility that this miniature is of Lady Jane Grey, there was a tendency for people to remove, or even go as far as destroy, images of people who had fallen into royal disfavour in case they were thought to be considering rebellion, or worse.  We know from an examination of the royal accounts that Henry VIII went so far as to order and pay the sum of  xiijs iiijd (13s 4d),[9] for the removal and destruction of all and every visual reference to both Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey in the various royal palaces. In the September of 1536.  We also know that only months prior to this order, in the November of 1535 new stained glass had been placed in the east window of Hampton Court chapel replacing the image of St Katharine of Alexandria with her distinctive wheel situated behind the kneeling queen, with a window of St Anne.  Today there is a Grinling Gibbons wooden carving behind the altar of the chapel that dates from after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.  

We know what the original stained glass of the east window looked like thanks to the finding of the vidimus (design) by Erhard Schönn who trained under Albrecht Dürer.[10]

Whether this exquisite portrait miniature is , or is not, Amy Robsart, or Lady Jane Grey, we know for certain it is not Princess Elizabeth since the eye colour is wrong, and for me both the eye colour and the nose as seen in the portraits by Antonis Mor and Hans Eworth, precludes it also being of Queen Mary as a princess.  If this portrait were of someone who had a claim to the throne and of the nobility, there would be more the costly blue pigment of  lapis lazuli used for the background, and it might even have been mounted on a queen from a set of playing cards.  However, if it ever had been mounted on a playing card, this is now missing.  How the water damaged was sustained will also remain a mystery.

  Nicholas Hilliard (1547 – 1619)

Vertue’s attributions continue with the attribution of various portrayals by Elizabeth I’s favourite artist ‘in little’, Nicholas Hilliard. The Hilliard miniature that has been suggested was of Mary Queen of Scots  is from c1615 and is now listed as  an Unknown Lady. For these we have to rely on Vertue since in Walpole’s Anecdote of Painting in England (Volume 1) ignores commenting on any specific Hilliard’s miniatures.

  • An Unknown Lady c 1615. Nicholas Hilliard (Private Collection)

In this miniature the only thing that is definite is that the pearwood frame is by Bernard Lens (1682-1740).  It is another one of Vertue’s recorded images who in 1732 stated it was in the collection of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford & Mortimer (1689-1741) and was of Mary Queen of Scots.[11]

Unknown Lady. c1615 Nicholas Hilliard. Private Collection

The catalogue raisonné of the collection of Welbeck Abbey compiled in 1916 by R W Goulding lists this portrait as being of Mary Queen of Scots and being by Hilliard.  Even in 1916 the idea that the legend “Virtutis Amore” being an anagram of Mary Stuart as suggested by Andrew Lang, was being questioned.[12] Vertue had previously suggested this was the Scottish queen, but Graham Reynolds also thought it was of her in his article for the Apollo magazine in 1983.[13] However, this suggestion has now been disputed and overtaken by more recent research. Even the artist is disputed with Vertue and Goulding listing it as being by Hilliard, and Anne Thakray writing on this portrait in “Dynasties” (see below) that while it is clearly of someone of the nobility because she is wearing ermine, it could also be by Hilliard’s one time pupil and by 1615, rival, Isaac Oliver.

Mary Queen of Scots c 1558-60. François Clouet. Royal Collections Trust. RCIN 401229

However, there are two artists who are known to have definitely painted Mary Queen of Scots.  First François Clouet (1520 – 1572) who painted her in France c1558 – 1560 (RCIN 401229) and Hilliard who painted her in the 1570s (RCIN 420641).  In both instances the artists have portrayed the Scottish queen with brown eyes.  

Mary Queen of Scots: Nicholas Hilliard. Royal Collection Trust (RCIN 420641)

Our Unknown Lady at Welbeck Abbey has blue eyes so it is unlikely that Hilliard would have made such a basic error of eye colour.  Since this portrait is dated c1615 then if it were by Oliver then he would may not have known the colour of Mary Stuart’s eyes.  However, the whole pose is a very unusual one and it has always struck me that this lady is in bed propped up on pillows.

Equally difficult to determine is whether the legend is an anagram or not. It is very possible that the legend translates directly as ‘virtuous love’ and is a statement of her unrequited love for an unknown person, and is not an anagram at all – the previous idea of it being an anagram having been an over thinking of this element. Since white is also an emblem of purity and also faith, then that could also explain other elements in this miniature. Only the sitter and original recipient would be able to tell us for certain, and they are long gone.

What is obvious from just these three examples is that without provenance and other documentary evidence it becomes almost impossible for us to identify those portraits listed as Unknown Lady or Gentleman.  While modern technology is all very helpful, the more boxes marked ‘contents uncatalogued’ are looked at and their contents identified, we may be lucky enough to get some insight into certain paintings, but for most of these unknown men and women, they will remain forever unidentified.

  • 1986: Identification of Lady Mary Neville & her son, Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre. (NPG )

Like any artist of this period there are various portraits of sitters of Hans Eworth’s whose identities are now lost, or have been mis-attributed.  Thanks to the latest research we can now view one that was mis-attributed to being Frances Brandon and her second husband, Adrian Stokes. 

Lady Mary Neville & her son Gregory, 10th Baron Dacre. 1559. Hans Eworth. National Portrait Gallery (NPG 6855)

Eworth has to be the most influential Netherland artist who came to these shores after the death of the German maestro, Hans Holbein, and like Holbein he has left a significant number of works for us to admire.  Hope Walker is an expert on his life and is in the process of putting together the catalogue raisonné of his work.  Hope undertook her MPhil at The Courtauld Institute and now lectures on art history at a university back in her native USA.  This link will take you to her website where you can find a superb co-authored article with the then head of the Tudor Section of the National Portrait Gallery, Tarnya Cooper.

Eworth is probably best known by the general public for his portraits of Mary I, but any serious student of art history will be aware of his exquisite ability to capture accurate likenesses of his sitters.  Apart from that side of his oeuvre, his portrait of Sir John Luttrell, painted in 1550, is thought to be the first use of visual allegory in England.  

The NPG’s double portrait of a middle aged woman and a younger man was researched by Dr Susan Foister in 1986 and her research is now universally accepted as this panel being of the thirty-six year old Lady Mary Neville and her twenty-one year old son, Gregory. The painting is clearly dated 1559 and Dr Foister identified the HE monogram as being that used by Eworth and not as stated by Walpole as being the monogram of Lucas de Heere. Therefore, a double misattribution to both artist and sitters was corrected.

The portrait was painted to commemorate the success of Lady Dacre’s protracted battle to have the injustice against her late husband righted.  Eworth’s single portrait of 1555 showing Lady Dacre with her pen poised and the portrait of her long dead husband in the background records how she fought tirelessly for the restitution of her sons’ inheritance (her older son Thomas died at the age of fifteen). The original is in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (Accession No 3337) and an eighteenth century copy of this hangs in The Vyne, Hampshire,  

In this portrait the portly widow is seated at a table and is in the process of writing as her quill pen is poised above an open book.  Behind her, we can see a portrait of her dead husband, Thomas 9th Baron Dacre, hanging on the wall.  The baron had been charged and found guilty of murdering a gamekeeper.  The story goes that the baron, and a number of others, had been poaching on the neighbouring estate to his own at Herstmonceaux Castle, Sussex, and during that expedition a member of the party had killed a keeper.  While Lord Dacre was not directly responsible for the keeper’s death, he and others were charged and found guilty of murder and subsequently were hanged at Tyburn in 1541.  For such a crime the 9th baron Dacre’s title and lands were forfeit, and the family disgraced.  

The title was finally restored in 1559 and her second son Gregory, became the 10th Baron Dacre.  In the portrait it looks as if Gregory is wearing ermine which, according to the sumptuary laws was only permitted to be worn by members of the nobility.  The cost of ermine was extortionate and looking closely at the spotted fur lining to Gregory’s surcoat it looks as if he may be wearing european lynx that also has a spotted fur and was considerably cheaper. 

By 1559 Lady Mary had remarried twice and had produced a further posse of children. Just why she chose to commemorate both her battle to regain her son’s title and the success of her campaign as a painting, is a mystery.

In today’s world the outcome of successful individual legal campaigns are snapped by the press photographers and TV news teams and if of sufficient public interest, beamed around the world in a matter of seconds via the internet, social media, radio and twenty-four hour television news channels.  This poses the question of just how many of us ever consider just how lacking of any visual recording of people and events, was until the age of photography.  However, that is a different question to be discussed at another time.


Beware the ire of the history hobbyist outed for sloppy research

When it comes to the internet and social media, unfortunately this is where we find a load of bunkum written by enthusiastic amateur historians who, while they might be applauded for their enthusiasm, need to realise that art history is not just looking at pretty pictures. In the view of several owners of certain websites and social media channels, the study of history, art history and other academic subjects at degree level is not necessary. I doubt those various professors and professional historians and archaeologists we see on the many very popular history programmes produced for the various television channels, particularly those programmes focusing on Tudor history, would agree.

This type of ill informed comment denigrates the years of study and teaching of the professors, holders of doctorates and Master of Arts degrees who are invited by these commercially minded website owners to impart their knowledge and research to their followers. It would be interesting to know if these enthusiastic amateurs have mentioned these opinions to the various professionals they invite on to their website, or other online events.

Equally there are some incredibly dedicated researchers out there who have studied the various disciplines required to be a successful historian and are now able to read the original documents, and are objective in their analysis.  In some cases they have found themselves a mentor to support them in their quest as they delve into the past to understand the people and events in which they are interested.  These talented individuals may not have gone through the discipline and expense of studying the subject at university, but their dedication deserves recognition and they are to be applauded.  

At the beginning of his premiership England’s prime minister, Tony Blair, stated that he wished eventually to have 50% of the population study for a degree, and as a result a plethora new subjects appeared on university syllabuses. Starting out as a mature undergraduate in September 1999 at Kingston University studying the history of art, architecture and design, I was mystified at the inclusion of subjects such as surfing, media studies, event and leisure management being offered as degree courses at other universities.  Having organised international conferences on consumer finance, annual dinners for trade associations and other institutions, exhibitions, ladies’ nights, weddings and various other events long before the advent of the computer and mobile phone, I was, and remain, baffled as to what it was that necessitated event management, or indeed any of the other examples, to be offered as a subject at degree level. 

When it comes to whether art history is of any interest to the general public, anyone who has watched Philp Mould or Fiona Bruce on BBC’s Fake or Fortune, or Dr Bendor Grosvenor’s Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, will have realised that research into an individual painting involves the collaboration of conservators, scientists and other professionals within the industry. It is not just the painting, but the provenance, the people involved, the political, social and cultural histories that lie behind the image that have made these television programmes so popular.[14]  Oh – and we all want to know the value of an original!

Having spent years studying the subject and going through the excruciating process of exams and dissertations an historian or art historian finally reaches post-graduate level of expertise.  As their experience broadens and like me, they see a specific claim that is wrong and correct that misattribution, then woe betide anyone for doing so.  The wrath of the individual whom I exposed for having done little research into the portrait now conclusively accepted to be of Lady Mary Neville & her son, and not Frances Brandon as they claimed, was palpable. “Who the hell do you think you are!” was their written response.  I know precisely who I am, and thanks to the internet I know a great deal about this individual.

What elicited this despicable response was because I pointed out various errors in their blog post, including the writer ignoring the date of creation of the painting. Admittedly Eworth had painted the date in the roman numerals MDLIX, so the writer may well have not recognised this as being 1559.  If so, you would have thought that seeing a random collection of letters centrally placed above and between the two sitters, their natural curiosity might have made them wonder what these signified. It does beg the question as to whether this person uses any form of critical analysis. They are very obviously the sort of person who believes that if they shout loud enough their opinion will be accepted. If that is the case, then it is not surprising they ignored every piece of research proving this painting was not of the person they claimed it to be.

By deliberately cropping the portrait to show only Lady Mary Neville they have misled their followers into believing their badly researched hypothesis that the woman was Frances Brandon. Any consideration of Dr Foister and Hope Walker’s internationally accepted research has been completely ignored, or more probably not considered, despite the portrait being labelled as of Lady Mary Neville & Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre on Wikipedia and many other places on the internet for years.

With a bit more effort this amateur history hobbyist could have written a far more interesting article about the long legal fight by the indomitable Lady Neville to right the injustice of her first husband, the 9th Baron Dacre, being condemned for a murder he did not commit, and the successful restoration of the family’s title and lands to her son Gregory, 10th Baron Dacre, in 1559. 

©MVT June 2022.


[1] This is my article as to why the study of art history should not be removed as an A Level option.

[2] Horace Walpole: Vertue; Anecdotes of painting in England with some account  Volume 1. p32.

[3] The probate inventory of Horace Walpole’s goods and chattels were thought lost until a student who had volunteered to catalogue one of the many uncatalogued boxes in the National Archives at Kew, discovered it in the early Noughties, thus providing a valuable document recording the extensive collection established by the Walpole family, much of which was bought by Catherine the Great of Russia.

[4] Royal Collection Trust


[6] My thanks to Professor Pat Wiltshire for explaining the more complex issues regarding genetics and eye colour. For those interested in Professor Wiltshire’s ground breaking work in forensic ecology that has led to the solving of 300 investigations both at home and globally, including several very high profile murders such as the Soham murders, here’s a link to her Wikipedia page.


[8] Hilliard: The Arte of Limning: p58.

[9] E36/239.

[10] H. Wayment: Wolsey & Stained Glass; Cardinal Wolsey: Church, state & art. pp116-130

[11] Anne Thakray: Cat. No 88. An Unknown Lady; K. Hearn (ed) Dynasties; p141.

[12] Goulding; R.W.; Welbeck Abbey Miniatures belonging to His Grace the Duke of Portland KG, GCVO; p58.  

[13] Anne Thakray: Cat. No 88. An Unknown Lady; K. Hearn (ed) Dynasties; p141.

[14] For those interested in knowing more, and perhaps studying the use of imagery, this link to our current day obsession with the visual and the use of images throughout the ages, might be of use.

Sources & Further Reading

Anon; 1573 Treatise on Limning; Richard Tothill, 1573; republished R Haydocke 1598.

E36: Exchequer. Treasury of the Receipts. Miscellaneous Books.

Hilliard, Nicholas; The Arte of Limning; 1598; RKR Thornton & TGS Cain (Eds); Carcanet; 1981 & 1992.

Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797, and George Vertue. Anecdotes of Painting In England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists And Incidental Notes On Other Arts. [Strawberry-Hill]: Printed by Thomas Farmer at Strawberry-Hill, 1762.

Vertue, George; Additional Mss. 23071 & 23072; British Library, London.

Campbell, Lorne; Renaissance Portraits: European Portrait-Painting in the 14th, 15th & 16th Centuries; Yale University Press; 1990

Goulding; R.W.; Welbeck Abbey Miniatures belonging to His Grace the Duke of Portland KG, GCVO; Oxford. 1916.

Gunn, S.J & P. G. (Eds); Cardinal Wolsey: Church, state and art; Cambridge University Press; 1991.

Hearn, Karen (Ed); Dynasties: Painting in Tudor & Jacobean England 1530-1630; Tate Publishing; London; 1995

Skidmore; Chris; Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart; Phoenix; 2011.

Stone, Lawrence. “Marriage among the English Nobility in the 16th and 17th Centuries.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 3, no. 2, 1961, pp. 182–206. JSTOR Accessed 23 Jun. 2022.

Watteeuw, Dr Bert; Disembodied Heads in Medieval & Early Modern Culture; Framing the Face. Patterns of Presentation & Representation in Early Modern Dress & Portraiture.pp245-270. Intersections Vol 28; Brill; 2013.

Internationally recognised modern experts who have written extensively on paintings of the 16th century.

Dr Susan Foister, Deputy Director & Director of Collections, National Gallery, London: & is a recognised expert on Netherlandish, German and British painting.

Professor Lorne Campbell; now retired. Senior curator National Gallery, London. Lectured at The Courtauld Institute, London. Author of many books on Northern European Renaissance art.

Ms Karen Hearn: former curator of 16th & 17th century arts at Tate Britain; is an honorary professor at UCL and a recognised expert 16th & 17th art and culture. & a talk by Ms Hearn This is a wonderful talk by Ms Hearn on the art of the Tudor miniature by Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver.

Hope Walker: undertook her MPhil at The Courtauld Institute (the premier institute for the study of art history in the world), and is a recognised authority on Hans Eworth.  Hope’s website :

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