The Melton Constable Hall or Hastings Portrait

Formerly called 'Lady Jane Grey'
by Unknown Artist
Collection of The Lord Hastings,
on loan to the National Trust,
Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland

     The sitter in the Melton Constable portrait has been identified as Lady Jane Grey for at least three centuries.[1] That identification has been supported in the past by comparison of the painting to an engraving (below, left) produced shortly before 1620 by Willem and Magdalena van de Passe, which they labeled ‘Lady Jane Grey’.[2] The van de Passes indicated that the engraving was taken from an authentic painted likeness, and the engraving was published as such in Henry Holland’s Herωologia Anglica of 1620.[3] Confusingly, the engraving is far more commonly associated with a portrait now in the National Portrait Gallery that was itself once thought to depict Jane Grey (detail, below right).[4] Yet comparison of the jewels depicted in the engraving to those seen in the NPG portrait, today labeled Katherine Parr, reveals a match only in the coronet-shaped brooch. On close inspection, the other jewels do not match in any way. Further, the patterns of the fabrics of the two dresses likewise do not match. When the jewels and fabric patterns seen in the engraving are compared with those seen in the Melton Constable portrait, however, the result is a positive and complete match. The van de Passe engraving must therefore be taken as a reproduction of specifically the Melton Constable portrait, not the NPG’s Katherine Parr.
     Yet the close correlation between the Melton Constable portrait and the van de Passe engraving of it labeled ‘Lady Jane Grey’ cannot in turn be taken as proof that the sitter in either is indeed Jane Grey. Misidentification and mislabeling of portraits was all too common in the late Tudor and early Stuart periods. Even the National Portrait Gallery describes the identification of the van de Passe engraving as questionable, noting in its collection catalogue that ‘it is possible that the original portrait was misidentified’.[5] All that can be said with certainty is that the Melton Constable portrait was engraved by the van de Passes in about 1620 in the belief that it was a portrait of Jane Grey.

     With frame, the painting measures 46 inches by 34 inches (the frame itself is approximately 4 or 5 inches wide). It is in oils, and is presently on canvas. The painting was reportedly originally on wood panel, but was supposedly transferred to a canvas backing in 1893. The transfer was not easily accomplished, so that considerable restoration was required.[6] No formal conservator’s report is available, though the painting is currently much in need of conservation. The varnish is dull and darkened, and there are innumerable tiny specks of what appears to be household paint splattered across the entire surface. There are also several areas of lifting of the pigment, though no significant paint loss can yet be detected. Extensive craquelure is present throughout.

     The portrait is in a gilt and ebonized frame of unknown age. The frame bears on its reverse a paper label from the firm of W. Boswell & Sons, ‘48, London Street, Norwich; Experts & Purchasers of Works of Art; Old Pictures Lined, Cleaned, and Restored’. The company re-located to 48 London Street in 1883 and remained there until 1929. A three-digit telephone number of 229 is given. Since the city of Norwich did not acquire an automatic telephone exchange until after 1910, the label must date to sometime between 1910 and 1929.

     According to Astley/Hastings family tradition, the painting came to Melton Constable Hall from Astley Castle, an ancient manor-house with connections to Jane Grey and her family. The estate was originally owned by the Beauchamp earls of Warwick but tenanted from the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries by the de Estleyes, ancestors of the modern Astleys, Barons Hastings. When in 1420 the Astley male line died out, tenancy passed to the Greys of Ruthyn. Fifty years later, Thomas Grey, after 1475 Marquess of Dorset, acquired actual ownership of Astley Castle and its manor. His grandson Henry Grey, father of Lady Jane Grey, held the castle and manor from 1539 until 1554.[7] Astley Castle lies about twenty miles southwest of Bradgate Park, the Grey’s Leicestershire family seat.[8]

     Because ownership by the de Estleye/Astley family of Astley Castle ceased in the early 1470s, long before Jane Grey was born, and because there is no discoverable documentary evidence that the painting came directly to the Astley family from the eponymous castle after 1554, the family tradition for the origin of the painting must be questioned. Architectural historian Christopher Hussey stated that the portrait was instead at the Astleys’ manor of Hillmorton in Warwickshire prior to the sale of that property in 1770, after which point it was moved to Melton Constable Hall, Norfolk.[9] The former was seldom occupied by the Astleys after 1567, as a series of conveyances testify to a succession of tenancies.[10] The latter had been in the Astley family continuously since the thirteenth century and was rebuilt for occupancy by Sir Jacob Astley shortly following his creation as 1st Baronet Astley of Hill Morton in 1660. The painting remained at Melton Constable Hall until that property was sold in 1948. It has been at Seaton Delaval Hall, just north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Northumberland, since Seaton was acquired by the 22nd Baron Hastings in about 1956.

     The provenance for the painting prior to 1770 is not documented, though there is nonetheless one small bit of evidence available. Contained in a mid-seventeenth-century manuscript list of the paintings engraved by the van de Passes for Holland’s Herωologia Anglica (see above) is the notation that the engraving of Jane Grey was based on a portrait owned by one ‘Mr. J. Harrison’ and attributed (erroneously) to Hans Holbein.[11] Writing in 1828, James Dallaway wondered at the identity of the mysterious ‘Mr. Harrison’, questioning whether he may have been a retainer at the court of James I.[12] Research thus far into Harrison’s identity has produced at least two potential candidates. The first and perhaps most likely is ‘Harrison ye King’s Embroyderer’ who, despite his occupation, owned an art collection of some note in about 1652, including works attributed to Holbein. The second is ‘Harison the woodmonger of the King’s’, who owned a collection of paintings valued in excess of 100 pounds sterling. Both are mentioned in a manuscript book of personal notes on painting compiled by Richard Symonds in about 1652.[13] It is not known how the painting moved from the collection of ‘Mr. Harrison’ before 1652 to the Astleys at Hillmorton by 1770. Neither is it known with certainty where ‘Mr. Harison’ acquired the painting himself, though the former royal collection seems possible. Further research in this area is needed.[14] 

     The portrait presents a young lady of indeterminate age, neither a child nor advanced in years. She is positioned standing and turned very slightly to the viewer’s left and is seen in three-quarter length. She stands before a dark background that is distinguished by only a single square column to the viewer’s left.

     The lady’s face is long-oval in shape with a pointed chin. Her eyes appear slightly wide-spaced and are brown in color. Her nose is straight with a very slightly bulbous tip. The upper lip is thin, while the lower lip is somewhat fuller, and the mouth is narrow. Her reddish-brown hair is quite wavy and is worn parted in the center, then pulled down over the temples and ears and swept backwards behind the head, as was common in the period.

     The costume is exceptionally rich and heavily embellished. She wears a French hood atop her head, beneath which can be seen the gold goffering of the anterior edge of a coif. The hood itself is salmon in color, with a high profile and a slight flattening of the crown. The sides of the hood curl forward so that the lower ends terminate just forward of the ears, completely covering them. The overall shape of the hood is most consistent with fashions of the 1540s.[15] The hood is decorated with both nether and upper billiments of goldwork set with pearls and other stones. The nether billiment is comprised of pairs of large round pearls between pieces of goldsmith’s work, each piece being set with a single red stone. The nether billiment appears to be laid onto a narrow border of white cloth attached to the front of the salmon-colored hood, or else onto the coif itself. The upper billiment is much more ornate than the lower one, consisting of larger pieces of goldsmith’s work in what appears to be an elaborate floral motif. The center of each gold piece is again set with a single large red stone. Between each is placed a trefoil of large pearls, with a cluster of multiple pearls at the end.

     The lady’s gown is constructed of a heavily brocaded fabric with a pattern suggestive of the stems and leaves of tangled vines of ivy. Shades of pink or salmon, light green, and dark green comprise the brocaded design, which is itself laid on a background of white or perhaps ivory. The green portions of the brocading appear to be supplemented with silver thread in a fish-scale pattern.

     The bodice appears rigidly boned, creating a flat silhouette. The upper edge of the bodice is nearly horizontal, while the lower edge tapers toward the center to form a V-shape, though it is overlaid with a girdle chain. The entire upper margin of the bodice is embellished with a band of jewels that are probably stitched temporarily and directly onto the fabric. At the lower edge of the jewel-band can be seen a single run of thick red piping, probably placed there to help support the weight of the jewels. A similar jewel-band ornaments the shoulder-edge of the sleeves, though the red piping is there less evident. The entire jewel-band — bodice and sleeves — consists of clusters of pearls interspersed with what appear to be Tudor roses fashioned in gold. The center of each rose is set with a large red stone. Additionally, the white edge of a chemise, probably of linen, can be seen along the margin of both the bodice and the sleeves, with numerous regularly-spaced small black tufts that are perhaps the ends of threads used in blackwork on the chemise. Together, the decorated edges of the chemise, bodice and sleeves create a rich and elaborate rectangular frame of jewels for the shoulders and head of the lady.

     The oversleeves of the gown are close-fitting at the shoulder but enlarge to form voluminous hanging oversleeves that are turned back and secured above the elbow, again consistent with fashions of the 1540s and early 1550s. They are made of the same heavy brocade as the bodice. The bulbous undersleeves, yet another fashion element most commonly seen in portraiture from the 1540s, are also constructed from a brocade with an identical pattern as that of the oversleeves and bodice, but here the color of the background has been changed to russet, creating marked visual contrast. The pink or salmon ‘stems’ of the floral design of the bodice are replaced on the undersleeves with gold embroidery in the same pattern. Each undersleeve is slashed at the wrists, with a linen chemise visible underneath. Each endpoint of every slash is ornamented with a large button of goldsmith’s work in the shape of a Tudor rose set with a large red stone. The oversleeve is edged at the cuff and along the main closure with black piping.

     The wide loose ruffles of the cuffs of the chemise extend over the base of the hands. There is a faint suggestion of an intricate embroidered or woven pattern in the fabric of the chemise. The pattern was apparently not well reproduced by the original artist, as the same vagueness occurs throughout the chemise, even in the shadowed portions. The lack of definition is therefore not the result of too-aggressive cleaning of the painting at some point in the past, nor is it likely the result of fading of the pigments. Instead, the artist appears to have chosen deliberately not to execute the pattern of the chemise to the same degree of detail that he employed in other areas. The margin of the sleeve where it joins the cuff is embellished with what appears to be red stones set in small squares of either gold-thread embroidery or goldsmith’s work.

     The underskirt is constructed of the same russet fabric as the undersleeves, with the same brocaded and embroidered ivy motif.

     The lady’s jewels, in addition to the already-mentioned hood billiments, bodice trim and sleeve buttons, are numerous and impressive. She wears three rings on each hand, with only the middle finger of each hand remaining bare. All six rings appear to be identical, taking the form of Tudor roses in gold set with red stones. She is fingering with her proper right hand one of a double strand of figured beads that are suspended from her girdle chain. The beads themselves are tiny ewers very finely wrought in gold with red and black enameling. Each ewer-bead has a red body encircled by a narrow gold band at its widest point, and each has a footed base of black, plus a sweepingly curved handle in black and gold on the upper third of the body of the ewer. Each also has either a black rounded lid or a black stone set into the top of the bead. The ewer beads are strung on a thin gold cord or chain, with one large round bead of worked gold placed in the middle of each strand.[16] The two strands are suspended from a single large gold bead that is either filigreed or embossed in an intricate but non-discernible pattern.

     The strands of ewer beads are attached to a girdle chain that is comprised in part of large and elaborate Tudor roses of goldsmith’s work set with square red stones, repeating the design seen in the bodice trim and hood billiments. Here, however, the roses are interspersed with larger pearls arranged in clusters of five rather than four.

     At her neck the lady wears a long necklace looped first close to the throat then double-looped more loosely down the chest and disappearing under the bodice of the gown. It is made from numerous clusters of pearls, each cluster containing four large pearls arranged in a square pattern. The pearl clusters are placed between still more Tudor roses of goldsmith’s work, each set with a red stone. A large pendant hangs from the center of the upper loop of the necklace. It is made of gold and consists of three sections combined into a single piece in roughly a triangular shape. Each section has a vaguely floral design akin to acanthus leaves. Each section is set with a large stone, the stone at the apex being oval and dark, perhaps diamond, sapphire, or emerald.[17] The stone at the base of the pendant and to the viewer’s left also appears to be an oval diamond, sapphire, or emerald, while that to the right is a square-cut red stone. A large teardrop-shaped pearl is suspended from beneath the pendant.

     A fine brooch is attached at the center of the upper portion of the bodice of the gown, carefully centered on a section of the green brocading. The brooch is comprised of three contiguous elements. The middle element is a horizontal oval of patterned goldwork, probably ‘Spanish work’, in an acanthus-leaf motif similar to the necklace pendant. It is set with four colored stones consisting of a central large oval red stone flanked on each side by a triangular black stone, probably diamonds. The fourth stone is also black and oval and is positioned above the central red stone. Three teardrop pearls hang along the lower margin of the jewel, the center pearl being larger than those flanking it, and together forming the lower element of the brooch. The upper element is a small coronet, with three golden fleur-de-lis along a golden band, set throughout with round and oval diamonds. Approximately a dozen small diamonds are visible set in the coronet.

     The Melton Constable portrait bears numerous striking similarities to the picture of Queen Katherine Parr in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 4451). Not least among these is the brooch worn at the bodice of the sitter’s dress, which is virtually identical in the two pictures. It is perhaps ironic that Sir Roy Strong, at the time Director of the National Portrait Gallery, re-identified NPG 4451 upon its acquisition in 1965 as a portrait of Jane Grey based almost exclusively on a comparison of the coronet-shaped bodice jewel to the one seen in the van de Passe engraving noted above. In 1965, the engraving was regarded as ‘the earliest certain portrait of Lady Jane Grey’.[18] That certainty was challenged in 1996 when Susan James convincingly re-identified NPG 4451 as Katherine Parr by comparing the bodice brooch to items described in inventories of the jewels owned by Henry VIII's wives, including Parr.[19] If the brooch is as unique as James suggests and the sitter in NPG 4451 is indeed Katherine Parr, the lady depicted in the Melton Constable portrait must also be Katherine Parr.

detail of bodice brooch,
Melton Constable portrait

detail of bodice brooch,
NPG 4451
     Apart from the coronet brooch, other similarities also indicate strongly that the sitter in the Melton Constable portrait is the same as the lady seen in NPG 4451. The facial appearance is, like the brooch, essentially identical. The overall facial shape, together with the appearance of such individual facial elements as the chin, cheekbones, lips, and eyes are all but indistinguishable. Both sitters have slender necks and gently sloping shoulders. Each has reddish-brown wavy hair (though the waves are less readily discernible in photographs of NPG 4451). Based on physiognomy alone, there can be little doubt that the two portraits depict the same woman.

detail of face,
Melton Constable portrait

detail of face,
NPG 4451
     The costumes worn in the two paintings are also remarkably similar, though that circumstance cannot realistically be used as anything more than peripherally supportive evidence. The two French hoods have the same shape and design scheme, suggesting that the two pictures are nearly contemporaneous. Likewise, the cut of the several elements of the gown — bodice, under- and oversleeves, under- and over skirts — are all but identical, again indicating that the two pictures were created within a short time frame. The only real differences in the two gowns, other than the colors and pattern of the brocades, lie in the manner in which the skirts are supported and the season for which each was portrait intended. The skirts of the costume worn by the sitter in NPG 4451 appear to be rigidly supported by an underlying farthingale, while those of the Melton Constable lady fall loosely into natural folds. Additionally, the heavily furred oversleeves in NPG 4451 are consistent with the colder weather of winter, while the costume worn by the lady in the Melton Constable portrait suggests warmer weather. It is therefore arguable that the two portraits were created in different seasons of the same year.

     The evidence for identifying as Katherine Parr the sitter in the Melton Constable portrait is actually greater than that for NPG 4451. As noted, James re-identified NPG 4451 based largely on the coronet shaped brooch, which is described with precision in an inventory of Parr’s jewels.[20] And that same brooch also appears in the Melton Constable portrait. But others of the jewels in the Melton Constable portrait also potentially correspond to items described in the inventories of Parr’s jewels, a correlation James was unable to make with NPG 4451. The pendant attached to the necklace in the Melton Constable painting, for example, could easily correspond to an ‘ouche or flower with a diamond, a ruby, an emerald, and a pearl pendant [i.e., hanging]’ listed on the first page of Parr’s inventory.[21] The upper billiment seen in the Melton Constable portrait has, seen and unseen, approximately the same number of stones as a similar item described in the inventories: ‘an upper habiliment [i.e., billiment] containing nine rubies and thirty pearls’.[22] Multiple gold rings set with table (flat-topped), pointed, and rock (uncut) rubies are listed in the inventories, and while none are described in sufficient detail to be definitively correlated with those in the portrait, the sheer quantity in the inventory indicates that ruby rings were one of Parr’s favorites.[23] The double-looped necklace corresponds closely to one listed in the inventory: ‘Item a lace for the neck containing twenty-nine rubies and eighty-four pearls’.[24] If the number of stones visible in the portrait were roughly doubled to account for portions unseen behind the neck and beneath the bodice, the resulting number would be very close to that given for the similar item in the inventory.

     The double-looped necklace and others of the jewels depicted in the Melton Constable portrait also correspond closely or exactly to items seen in portraits of Henry VIII’s other wives and of his daughter Elizabeth. The necklace, though with a different pendant, can be seen in both the full-sized portrait (below, top-left) of Jane Seymour, Henry’s third consort, and in the miniature (below, top-center) thought to depict Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, both by Hans Holbein. The strands of uncommon ewer beads in the Melton Constable portrait (below, bottom-left) are strikingly similar to beads worn by Seymour in the Holbein portrait (below, bottom-right), the difference perhaps explained by the relative skills of the respective artists. And the design of the girdle chain in the Melton Constable painting (below, bottom-left), consisting of clusters of five pearls interspersed with Tudor roses set with red stones, is a seemingly perfect match to the design of the necklace worn by Elizabeth Tudor in the Clopton Portrait (below, top-right). The girdle chain would be of sufficient length that if ‘re-purposed’ as a necklace, it would indeed have to be worn double-looped. Through this close correlation between multiple jewels depicted in the portrait to corresponding items both from inventories of Parr’s possessions and from portraits of other members of the immediate family of Henry VIII, the evidence for identifying the sitter as Katherine Parr mounts.

Jane Seymour (detail)
by Hans Holbein
Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), accession number GG-881

Probably Kathrine Howard (detail)
by Hans Holbein the Younger
circa 1541
The Royal Collection,
RCIN 422293

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I
by unknown artist
circa 1560s
Private Collection

detail of girdle chain and beads,
Melton Constable portrait

detail of girdle chain and beads,
Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein
     The evidence indicates that the Melton Constable portrait is not a portrait of Lady Jane Grey, despite any similarity to the engraving by the van de Passes. Indeed, the engraving appears to be mis-identified as well, since the engraving is surely closely related to the Melton Constable portrait. The style of the sitter’s costume in the Melton Constable portrait indicates a date of creation in the 1540s, when Jane Grey was not yet ten years old. The sitter was nonetheless of enormous wealth and probably of royal status similar to or greater than that of Jane Grey, as evidenced by the abundance of rich jewels. The Tudor roses, though a popular motif utilized freely well beyond the royal court, are deployed in such striking numbers throughout most of the jewelry seen in this portrait that it is difficult to consider the sitter as anyone but a member of the immediate family of Henry VIII. The correlation of the coronet-shaped bodice brooch to an identical brooch listed in inventories of the jewels belonging to the last wives of Henry VIII indicates that the sitter is one of Henry’s many queens-consort. Numerous others of the jewels correspond closely or completely either to items listed in the inventories or to jewels worn in portraits of other members of Henry’s nuclear family, suggesting an intra-familial inheritance pattern for those jewels. Lastly, the facial features are identical to those depicted in the best known portrait of Katherine Parr, NPG 4451. From the full body of evidence, we must conclude that the Melton Constable portrait depicts Queen Katherine Parr.

     But dissimilarities to the NPG portrait indicate that the Melton Constable portrait is not simply a copy or variant of NPG 4451. It is instead most probably a copy of a separate, uniquely created, and previously unknown portrait of Queen Katherine Parr. Sir Roy Strong largely dismissed this portrait on the grounds that he considered it a copy, and the original could not be located. He cited an artistic “technique [that] would suggest the early 18th century” and a scientific examination refuting the claim that the painting had been transferred to canvas from wood panel.[25] Strong may well be correct in his premise, but he is incorrect in dismissing the portrait altogether. Research related to the van de Passe engraving reveals the possibility that the Melton Constable portrait may have been copied from a Holbein original that became lost during the English Civil Wars and Commonwealth Period of the 1640s and 1650s. Certainly it is related in some as-yet-undetermined way to the Jersey Portrait. But for the purposes of portraiture of Lady Jane Grey, it is all but certain that this portrait depicts Jane’s friend and mentor Queen Katherine Parr rather than Jane herself.
J. Stephan Edwards, Ph.D.
Palm Springs, California
1 November 2010
  NOTES :      
I refer to the picture as the ‘Melton Constable’ portrait because it was reportedly held for several centuries at Melton Constable Hall, longtime Norfolk residence of the Barons Hastings. In more recent years, however, the painting was moved to Seaton Delaval Hall (Northumberland) when the 21st Baron Hastings acquired that property. The painting is now on long-term loan from the 23rd Baron Hastings to the National Trust, which assumed ownership of Seaton Delaval Hall late in 2009.
Lady Jane Dudley (née Grey), by Willem and Magdalena van de Passe, National Portrait Gallery (London), accession number NPG D19952. Willem and Magdelena van de Passe were siblings in a well-known family of engravers from Utrecht, the Netherlands, that also included their father Crispin and brothers Simon and Crispin (II).
H.H. (Henry Holland), Herωologia Anglica: Hoc Est, Clarissimorum et Doctissimorum. Aliqout [sic] Anglorum, qui floruerunt ab anno Cristi. M.D. vsq[ue] ad presentem annum M.D.C.XX viuae effigies vitae et elogia: duobus tomis (Arnhem: Printed by Jan Jansson at the expenses of Crispijn van de Passe and Jan Jansson for Henry Holland, London, 1620), I: 33. The portraits in both volumes were engraved by Willem and Magdalena van de Passe, purportedly from original paintings.
See, for example, National Portrait Gallery, Heinz Archive and Library, file on NPG 4451; Susan E. James, ‘Lady Jane Grey or Queen Katherine Parr?’, Burlington Magazine 138: 1114 (January 1996), 22. Sir Roy Strong, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery, utilized the engraving in 1965 to support re-identifying NPG 4451, previously labeled Katherine Parr, as Jane Grey. James successfully challenged Strong’s claim and restored the identification as Parr, basing her argument on a combination of evidence drawn from the painting’s provenance and from comparison of the bodice brooch to inventories of  ‘the queen’s jewels’.
National Portrait Gallery Online Database entry for Lady Jane Grey Dudley by Magdalena and Willem van de Passe.
Christopher Hussey, ‘Melton Constable Hall’, Country Life 64, nos. 1652 and 1653 (15 and 22 September 1928), 364–370 and 402–409.
‘Knightlow Hundred’ in Volume 6 of Victoria History of the County of Warwick, edited by L.F. Salzman (London: A. Constable, 1951), 15–22. Following Henry Grey’s attainder and death in 1554, Astley Castle was acquired by Edward Chamberlaine. The castle and its manor lands remained in the possession of the Chamberlaine family until the 1670s, though they did not occupy the castle themselves, instead leasing it out to various tenants. In 1674, Astley Castle was sold to the Newdigates of Arbury Hall, and it remains with the heirs of that family to the present. By the early 1960s, Astley Castle had been converted to use as a hotel, but it was abandoned by the early 1970s. Then in 1978, the castle was all but destroyed by fire. Only limited portions of the facade remain, though the Landmark Trust hopes someday to restore the structure.
It is to Astley Castle that Henry Grey fled in February 1554 following the failure of ‘Wyatt’s Rebellion.’ Tradition states that he hid there in the hollow of a tree until being discovered and captured.
Christopher Hussey, ‘Melton Constable, Norfolk, the seat of Lord Hastings’, Country Life 64, nos. 1652 and 1653 (15 and 22 September 1928), 364–370 and 402–409.
‘Knightlow Hundred’ in Volume 6 of Victoria History of the County of Warwick, edited by L.F. Salzman (London: A. Constable, 1951), 108–114.
The manuscript is photographically reproduced in Arthur M. Hind, Engraving in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Part II: The Reign of James I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952). The manuscript is also presented in transcription ‘from the margin of a copy formerly in the possession of P. Mariette’ as a printed flyleaf in an early copy of Holland’s Herωologia Anglica, British Library shelfmark G.1453. Though the printed flyleaf is dated 1809, the volume into which it is inserted is a first edition of 1620.
James Dallaway, Horace Walpole, and George Vertue, Anecdotes of Painting in England ... with considerable additions by the Rev. James Dallaway (London: The Shakespeare Press, 1828), I: 245–246, n.†.
British Library Egerton Manuscript 1636, f. 90v and 101r. See also See C.H. Collins Baker, Lely and the Stuart Portrait Painters, Vol. 2 (London: PL Warner, 1912), 183. Harrison the embroiderer housed his collection ‘near the Thames at a wharfe neare Som[er]set house’. Harison the woodmonger sold a portion of his collection to the Spanish ambassador Don Alonso de Cardenas in 1652 for the sum of 100 pounds sterling. (In addition to his ambassadorial duties, de Cardenas was also given a brief to acquire works of art for Philip IV of Spain.) Since their collections were noted by Symonds in 1652, fully three years after the execution of Charles I, it is possible that they acquired some of their paintings from the Commonwealth government when former Crown property was liquidated after 1649. Panel paintings in the collection of Charles I were customarily branded to identify the king as the owner, but in the case of the Melton Constable portrait, the wood panel has been removed and thus any brand destroyed in the process.
A search of the Provenance Research Databases at the Getty Museum’s Research Institute, using seller/buyer terms ‘Astley’ or ‘Hastings’, or using keywords ‘Jane Grey’ or ‘Parr’, produces well over 1500 results, none of which are readily identifiable with the Melton Constable portrait, reducing (but not eliminating) the possibility that the painting was acquired after 1690, the start-point of Getty records. Five portraits identified as Katherine Parr are listed, all of which were sold in London auctions between 1812 and 1834, well after the Melton Constable portrait was already in the Hastings collection. Numerous pictures depicting Jane Grey are listed, but the overwhelming majority are attributed to artists of the eighteenth century or later. Of the minority, four are attributed to Holbein: one of these is too small (a ‘cabinet portrait’); one is inscribed with the numerals ‘15’; and the third and fourth can be eliminated based either on a known buyer or a late date of sale. Among those sold before 1770, most are attributed to ‘Anonymous,’ though most have sufficient sale data attached to make elimination possible. A handful were ‘bought in’ by the selling auction house, however, and presumably sold onward through private transactions and thus cannot be eliminated. Again, in the absence of a solidly documented provenance for the Melton Constable portrait in the period before about 1770, further research is needed to eliminate these potential candidate auction items.
The shape of French hoods evolved rapidly over the period between 1530 and 1560. Each change in shape can be pinpointed to a reasonably narrow chronological period. When first introduced in the mid 1530s, they had high-profile rounded crowns. The slight flattening seen here was most common in the 1540s, while the crowns of hoods became more markedly flat thereafter. See Louise Pass , ‘The French Hood: The Evolution and Construction of the French Hood, 1500–1600’.
The larger gold beads could be either filigree, called ‘Paris work’ in the Tudor period, or woven gold wire, called ‘Spanish work.’
Diamonds were commonly depicted in black in paintings of the Tudor period. Stonecutters had not yet developed the necessary technology for cutting diamonds, so that the stones were often very minimally faceted. As a result, they appeared largely transparent and lacked the colorful ‘fire’ of fully faceted diamonds. That transparency was usually rendered as black, owing to the lack of light behind the set stone.
‘An Authentic Portrait of Lady Jane Grey?’, The Times of London, 5 July 1965, page 14, column 1.
Susan E. James, ‘Lady Jane Grey or Queen Katherine Parr?’, Burlington Magazine 138: 1114 (January 1996), 20–24. Provenance also figured in James’s identification, the painting having been held at Glendon Hall, a property owned at one time by Queen Katherine’s cousin, Maud Parr.
British Library Additional Manuscripts 46348, ‘The Quene’s Juelles’, f. 168r: ‘Item one ouche [i.e., brooch] or flower with a crown containing two diamonds, one ruby, one emerald. The crown being garnished with diamonds and three pearls pendant’. Transcribed by Susan James as Appendix V to Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 1999), 423.
James, Kateryn Parr, Appendix V, 423. The necklace pendant seen in NPG 4451 cannot correspond to this same inventory listing since the NPG pendant consists of one large red stone and just one dark stone, rather than one red and two dark stones.
Though an ‘ouche or flower’ was usually a brooch pinned to a garment, they were sometimes equipped with loops so that they might double as pendants suspended from necklaces.
James, Kateryn Parr, Appendix V, 429.
James, Kateryn Parr, Appendix V, 430. Three ruby rings are therein listed. Also Appendix VII, ‘The Sudeley Chest’, page 436, itemizing jewels removed from the Parr residence of Sudeley Castle, including five more ruby-set rings.
James, Kateryn Parr, Appendix V, 428. The arrangement of the pearls and the settings for the rubies are not explicitly described in the inventory. Inventorists were concerned only with monetary value, not with aesthetics.
Letter from Roy Strong to Lord Hastings, 20 December 1965, Picture File for NPG4451, Heinz Archvie and Library, National Portrait Gallery (London). Strong reported to Lord Hastings that the Melton Constable painting was examined by Joyce Plesters of the National Gallery’s Scientific Department, and she concluded that it was never transferred from panel. Plesters was a prominent pioneer in the application of scientific techniques to the study of art objects.
    Introduction to Portraiture of Lady Jane Grey
    The Althorp Portrait     The Anglesey Abbey Portrait  
    The Bodleian Library Portrait     The Chawton House–Hever Castle Portrait  
    The Elliot–Gedling House Portrait     The Fitzwilliam Museum Portrait  
    The Houghton Hall Portrait     The Jersey Portrait  
    The King’s College Portrait     The Madresfield Court Portrait  
    The Norris Portrait     The Northwick Park Portrait  
    The Portland Portrait     The Rotherwas Portrait  
    The Somerley Portrait     The Streatham Portrait  
    The Syon House Portrait     The van de Passe Engraved Portrait  
    The Wrest Park Portrait     The Yale Miniature  
    Other Portraits Called
‘Lady Jane Grey’



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