Above you can see three different portraits of Henry VIII, painted at three different points in his life by three different artists.

However, not all portraits from the Tudor era are as easy to identify or are as definitively identified as these ones.

In fact, there are a great deal of paintings from this era that have no conclusive identification. In what has been termed the Tudor chair game, portraits have been identified, re-identified and re-re-identified, often one single portrait going through the entire rooster of famous personages from that era.

One portrait, after having been known as Katherine Parr for 400 years, was re-christened to Lady Jane Grey, until it was discovered after 30 years, that, no, indeed it was Katherine Parr after all.

Most recently, a portrait always known as Katherine Parr after further examination clearly proved to be Katherine of Aragon.

It is incredibly frustrating or incredibly fascinating, depending.

My interest in the miniatures below were awakened by Roland Hui's article Two New Faces: the Hornebolte Portraits of Mary and Thomas Boleyn? According to this article, there are four miniatures from the Tudor era with precisely the same limnings. Where '[n]o inconsistencies are present. They were evidently by the same hand. The individual letters and numbers - the AºN and the Roman numerals - were rendered exactly alike and laid out in precisely the same way, as were the asterisks appearing in both.'

To me this indicates that they were painted by the same hand.

However, and here's the rub: It is seemingly impossible to line up the most likely identifications of the miniatures with one and the same court painter.

Four miniatures from the Tudor Era with precisely the same limnings. From the left suggested identifications have included – Thomas Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Amy Robsart, and Anne Boleyn.

The reasons for these tentative identifications are as follow:

Roland Hui was the first to suggest Thomas Boleyn as the identity of the sitter of the man dressed in the fashions of the 1520's to the 1540's.

Traditionally the sitter of the de Wet miniature has been identified as Charles Brandon, but as Roland Hui correctly points out, compared to authenticated portraits of Brandon, the miniature bears little resemblance to him. «Prior to its identification as Charles Brandon, the de Wet miniature was erroneously called Edward Duke of Buckingham; he was executed in 1521 at the age of 43. The Sotheby version was referred to as Thomas Earl of Essex (that is Thomas Cromwell), but the likeness is clearly not of him.»[1]

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The de Wet Miniature

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Roland Hui's argumentation is as follows:

«Thomas Boleyn’s birth date can be construed by his testimony given during the 'Great Matter' of the King’s divorce. Called as a witness, he gave his age as 52 on 15 July 1529. If he was Hornebolte’s 47 or 48-year-old sitter, that would date the miniature to 1524 – 1525. For Thomas Boleyn, it was the latter year that was of especial significance to him. After years of loyal service to the crown - as a squire of the body, keeper of the Exchange, ambassador to the Netherlands and to France, controller of the household, and treasurer – the diligent Sir Thomas was finally elevated to the peerage as Viscount Rochford on 18 June 1525.»[2]

I find his argumentation persuasive. And there is a resemblance between the miniature and the effigy of Thomas Boleyn.

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The Sudeley Miniature

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The Sudeley miniature has been identified as Katherine Parr since at least 1774, when it was in the Strawberry Hill Collection of Horace Walpole.


'1774 Description: Within the cabinet of enamels and miniatures...Catharine Parr; by Holbein: a most scarce head, and exactly like the picture of her at the earl of Denbigh’s at Nuneham Padox, Warwickshire'


This painting was in 2016 sold as lot 346 by Christie's as Portrait of Lady Jane Grey after Master John, property from the estate of the countess Nadia de Navarro.

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The Yale Miniature

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There have been several tentative identifications of this miniature. Amy Robsart Dudley, Jane Grey Dudley or even Elizabeth I Tudor when a princess.

One theory is that it is a wedding picture of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen. Eric Ives argues that it cannot be Jane Grey because (among other considerations) Lady Jane Grey was too young, and says: «If the sitter was a Dudley wife and the miniature is a wedding memento, the acorns suggest Amy Robsart, who married ... at the precise age of 18 (Robert, robur, Latin for oak).» (Ives 2009 pp. 295, 15–16). Chris Skidmore concurs with this, adding that Robert Dudley used the oak as a personal symbol in his youth (Skidmore 2010 p. 21).

J. Stephan Edwards discounts the possibility of her being Lady Jane Grey also.

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The Royal Ontario Miniature

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The Royal Ontario miniature can be dated conclusively to the mid-1520's based on the fashion of her costume. This miniature has been through several rounds of identifications. It was firstly known as Katherine of Aragon, then as Jane Seymour, and lastly as Anne Boleyn.

«The picture of an English woman from the reign of Henry VIII was known as Katherine of Aragon when it was recorded in the collection of Horace Walpole in 1774, and was presumably called that by its previous owners going as far back as Charles II. After it was acquired by the Duke of Buccleuch in the next century, the identity of the sitter was changed to Jane Seymour.' The Royal Ontario Museum, which obtained a duplicate of the miniature in 1978, also accepted her as Henry VIII’s third wife. Both versions were subsequently renamed. The lady was clearly neither Katherine of Aragon nor Jane Seymour when compared to authentic portraits of them. As Hornebolte’s clientele seemed to be confined within the royal circle, and that the miniature was replicated, indicated a sitter of particular importance. The most plausible choice was the wife-in-between – Anne Boleyn.»[3]

Katherine Parr – The Denbigh Portrait

I include a picture of the Denbigh portrait because I had never seen it before and it is very beautiful. The exquisite silvery lilac fabric of the gown is absolutely gorgeous.

Katherine Parr - Owned by the Earl of Denbigh in 1774

After Master John

Portrait of Lady Jane Grey

oil on canvas

72 7/8 x 42 7/8 in. (185.1 x 108.9 cm.)



The Earl of Denbigh, London.

Acquired by the Countess Nadia de Navarro, Glen Head, New York, before 1964.

This painting was in 2016 sold as lot 346 by Christie's as Portrait of Lady Jane Grey after Master John, property from the estate of the countess Nadia de Navarro.

Of course, anybody who knows anything about the portraiture of either Lady Jane Grey or Katherine Parr knows that this is another version of or a copy of the Glenford Hall portrait or NPG 4451 of Katherine Parr.

Since the provenance is clearly given as Earl of Denbigh there can be little doubt that this is the portrait referred to above, that it was in the collection of the Earl of Denbigh in 1774, and that the portrait was known as Katherine Parr in 1774.

A copy of the Hastings or Melton Constable Portrait of Katherine Parr sold in 2013 shares the colouring of the Denbigh version. This portrait was sold in 2013 as After Lucas de Heere: Portrait of Lady Jane Grey After the Haughton Portrait.

There's ... not actually a bit of that description that is not wrong.

Lucas de Heere was not in England in time to paint either Katherine Parr or Lady Jane Grey.

By 'Haughton' I presume is meant the Houghton Portrait of Lady Jane Grey, to which this portrait bears little resemblance.

Instead it appears to have been a direct copy of Lady Jane Grey by George Perfect Harding (British, b. ca. 1780–1853)

It is entirely possible that George Perfect Harding was familiar with both the Hastings or Melton Constable Portrait and the Denbigh Portrait of Katherine Parr.

His lifetime puts him in close proximity with the 1774 statement from the Walpole Collection of a known portrait of Katherine Parr being in the Earl of Denbigh’s collection at Nuneham Padox, Warwickshire.

Side By Side – The Denbigh Portrait and the Glendon Hall Portrait or NPG 4451 of Katherine Parr

The Royal Ontario Miniature

Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford by Holbein (1527)

Katherine of Aragon by Johannes Corvus

'Costume evidence places Hornebolte’s lady in the mid-1520s, in correspondence to a panel of Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford by Hans Holbein, and to a portrait type of Katherine of Aragon executed at this time.'[1] See also our 1520's page.

'All three women wear English style hoods with gabled frames extending down to the neck, and their bodices have the distinctive white bands at the shoulders fashionable at this period. Lady Guildford was painted in 1527, while the undated panels of Queen Katherine should not be later than the latter half of that same year when her royal title came under attack by Henry VIII’s efforts to divorce her that summer.'[2]

The Royal Ontario Miniature

The reason why we can date this fashion so accurately is because of the painter Holbein, who travelled to England in search of work in 1526, his first stay which lasted for two years before he returned to Basel, and did not come back to England until four years later.

So it is a matter of the sitter's age. Katherine of Aragon was born on the 16th of December in 1485, meaning that she was 25 or in her 25th year from 1509 to 1511. That is rather too early for the fashions in this portrait. Besides, miniature painting did not reach England until the mid-1520's.

c.1503-9, the fashions when Katherine of Aragon was a princess dowager, and around the time when she was 25 or in her 25th year, the age of the lady in the Royal Ontario and the Buccleuch miniaturec

c.1509-1520, the fashions during Katherine of Aragon's first years as Queen

In this newly identified painting from Katherine of Aragon's early years as queen c.1509-1520, a time Katherine of Aragon would have been from 24 to 35 years of age. As we can see the lapels of the English gable hood Katherine of Aragon is wearing are slightly longer and straighter than that of the lady in the Royal Ontario miniature. Katherine of Aragon's dress from her first years as queen is lacking the characteristic white bands so typical for the mid-1520's in Tudor England and which features so strongly in the portraits executed by Holbein during his 1526-1527 stay in England.

The Early Tudor white band unimportant mystery or the key to Tudor gown construction?

Conversely, Jane Seymour was born in 1507 or 1508, based on the procession of 29 mourners on her funeral on the 12th of November in 1537. One mourner for every year of Queen Jane's life. This tells us that Jane Seymour was 25 or in her 25th year from 1531 to 1533, rather too late for the fashions in this portrait.

Besides, in 1531 to 1533 Henry VIII was at the very height of his feverish passion for Anne Boleyn, and it is highly unlikely that he would have had the court painter paint another woman in this interval.

The fashions when Jane Seymour was Queen 1536-7

The advent of the 1530's and 1540's 'dictated shortened frames aligned with the mouth, and even the adaptation of the more chic rounded French hood altogether.'[3]

All the four miniatures can based on the fashion of their costumes be dated conclusively to before the mid-1550's, when fashion changed decisively yet once again.

Mid-1550's – The fashions of Lady Jane Grey's youth

Notice the squared brim of the French hood and the raised neckline with ruffles.

On the portraits avove, we a full length portrait of Mary Howard, Duchess of Norfolk, aged 16 in 1556, a later bust length copy of the same portrait, and the Fitzwilliam portrait of an unknown lady formerly called Mary I when Princess by Hans Eworth from the same period.

For more examples of fashion in the 1550's in England see our 1550's and 1560's page.

The Royal Ontario Miniature (lady with inscription)

The Royal Ontario Miniature Portrait, Unknown Lady by Lucas Horenbolte, ca. 1525 to early 1530s. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Provenance: 'Charles Seymour, the sixth Duke of Somerset (1662-1748), and subsequently, his descendents the Dukes of Buckingham at Stowe. The tradition that Seymour inherited the miniature from his ancestor Edward Seymour the Lord Protector, cannot be established, and was likely a conjecture based on the portrait being once called his sister Jane Seymour. Aside from Somerset's branch of the family, there is his wife's to consider. She was Elizabeth Percy, a direct descendent of Katherine Carey through the marriage of her granddaughter Dorothy Devereux to the ninth Earl of Northumberland in 1594'


The Buccleuch Miniature (lady without inscription)

Description: Portrait Miniature of Anne Boleyn (Katharine of Aragon) Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000468, c.1532-33. Horenbout, Lucas (South Netherlandish painter, c.1490-1544, active in England). Miniature Watercolour on vellum set in gold frame 4.2 cm [diameter]. Inscriptions: Engraved on 19h century cartouche: KATHARINE OF ARRAGON.

Trustees of the Ninth Duke of Buccleuch’s Chattels Trust. 

Provenance: First known owner Charles II. 'Charles II; presented to his illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth (according to Horace Walpole); his daughter, Lady Isabella Scott; at her sale purchased by Horace Walpole, by 1774 (as Katharine of Arragon by Holbein); 1842, Strawberry Hill Sale, day 14, lot 65, bt. William Blamire, Esq., £50.8.0 (as Katherine of Aragon by Holbein); 1863, 9 November his sale, London, Christie’s, lot 137; purchased by Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry; by family descent.'

The de Wet miniature (man with inscription)

Current whereabouts: The Victoria and Albert Museum

Provenance: 'likewise the de Wet picture, which can also be traced back to Stowe.'

The Sotheby miniature (man without inscription)

Current whereabouts: South Africa

Provenance: 'Major General F.E. Sotheby until it was sold'. Otherwise 'the history of the Sotheby picture appears to be undocumented'.

The Sudeley Miniature of Katherine Parr

Private Collection, UK

Provenance: The Sudeley miniature has been identified as Katherine Parr since at least 1774, when it was in the Strawberry Hill Collection of Horace Walpole.


The Yale Miniature

Current whereabouts: The Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Provenance: Paul Mellon (d. 1999), by whom; gifted to Yale Center for British Art, 1966.

The known miniaturists, known at the time as limnists, of the Tudor Era were:

Hans Holbein the Younger c.1497 – between the 7th of October and the 29th of November 1543. Holbein travelled to England in 1526 in search of work, with a recommendation from Erasmus. He was welcomed into the humanist circle of Thomas More, where he quickly built a high reputation. After returning to Basel for four years, he resumed his career in England in 1532. This time he worked under the patronage of Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell. By 1535, he was King's Painter to King Henry VIII. In this role, he produced not only portraits and festive decorations but designs for jewellery, plate and other precious objects. His portraits of the royal family and nobles are a record of the court in the years when Henry was asserting his supremacy over the English church.

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Hans Holbein the Younger

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Lucas Horenbout or Hornebolte c.1490/1495–1544. Horenbout was born in Ghent, where he trained with his father, Gerard Horenbout, becoming a Master of the local Guild of Saint Luke in 1512. Gerard was an important Flemish manuscript illuminator in the dying days of that art-form, who had been court painter, from 1515 to about 1522, to Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands. Margaret was twice sister-in-law to Katherine of Aragon, still Henry's (first) Queen when the Horenbouts came to England. Horenbout came over to England at an unknown date with, or perhaps before, his sister Susannah Hornebolte and his father. His father Gerard is first recorded in England in 1528, and later returned to the Continent, probably after 1531; he had died in Ghent by 1540. Susanna, who was also an illuminator, is recorded in 1529 as married to a John Palmer and in England. Lucas is documented in England from September 1525, when he was first paid by the King as "pictor maker". By 1531 he was described as the "King's Painter", and this appointment was confirmed for life in June 1534, when he became a "denizen" – effectively a naturalised citizen. Horenbout was very well paid, at sixty-two pounds and ten shillings (but only thirty-three pounds and six shillings according to Richard Gay) per year, a "huge" sum according to Strong, and better than Holbein's thirty pounds a year in his period as Henry's court painter.

«Portrait miniatures such as this were initially developed to meet the demand for portable, dynastic images to serve as prized diplomatic gifts. A miniature of Henry VIII and one of his daughters, Princess Mary, was given to Francis I, King of France, in exchange for two miniatures of Francis I’s sons, which were sent to Henry VIII in the autumn of 1526.» The Royal Collection

Henry VIII by Lucas Horenbout/bolte – Miniature in the Louvre

Levina Teerlinc b. Bruges, 1510–1520?; d. London, 23 June 1576. Levina Teerlinc was a Flemish Renaissance miniaturist who served as a painter to the English court of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. In 1545, she moved with her husband, George Teerlinc of Blankenberge, to England. During her time in England, she served as the royal painter to Henry VIII, whose royal painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, had recently died. Her annuity for this position was £40 – rather more than Holbein had been paid. Whilst she was a real celebrity, no works by her are currently known. Later she served as a gentlewoman in the royal households of both Mary I and Elizabeth I. In 1559 Levina Teerlinc was appointed tutor in painting to the King's daughter at the Spanish Court.

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An Elizabethan Maundy, miniature by Levina Teerlinc, c.1560

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Our miniatures are clearly not the work of Holbein.

The Royal Ontario miniature of Anne Boleyn is from the mid-1520's – the early 1530's at the very latest. By the mid-1530's the fashions of the English gable hood had changed radically.

Katherine Parr married Henry VIII on the 12th of July 1543 and was Queen consort until 1547.

Amy Robsart married Robert Dudley three days before her 18th birthday on the 4th of June 1550 at the royal palace of Sheen with Edward VI in attendance. Princess Elizabeth Tudor danced at their wedding.

If the lady in the Yale miniature is Amy Robsart, Lady Jane Grey, or Elizabeth I while princess, or indeed any young lady who reached her 18th year after 1544, the miniature could not possibly have been painted by Horenbout, as he passed away in 1544.

In short, if we are to assume that it is the same handwriting on the limning, and that this means the same artist, we can exclude both Lucas Horenbout and Levina Teerlinc.

Lucas Horenbout didn't live to see 1550, and Levina Teerlinc didn't see England until 1545.

Lucas Horenbout could have painted Anne Boleyn (or some other lady) in the 1520's or the 1530's, and also Katherine Parr if the Sudeley miniature dates to 1544 or earlier, but if the Yale minature is indeed Amy Robsart, Lady Dudley, Horenbout would have passed six years prior to her 18th birthday.

Levina Teerlinc could have painted both Katherine Parr (who was queen until 1547) and Amy Robsart, Lady Dudley, at the occasion of her wedding in 1550, but not Anne Boleyn, nor any other English lady in the 1520's or 1530's.

However, Lisby1 makes a case for Levina Teerlinc:

'I agree that everything you say is indeed a strong possibility. I was basing my attribution on what I know to be "normally" (as in frequently) attributed to Teerlinc. But I know that the habit has been to ascribe the least realistic miniatures to her because she was a woman and therefore must have been inferior to male artists. ;) The one thing I see as common to these miniatures ascribed to her is the emaciated thinness of the arms. It wasn't a one off. If appears over and over. Whomever was the artist, it was a strong trait in their work.'

Could the Royal Ontario miniature, the one possibly of Anne Boleyn, with her age inscribed, be a copy of an earlier miniature, which was indeed painted in the 1520's? Because a different version of this miniature does of course indeed exist.

The Buccleuch Miniature Portrait and The Royal Ontario Miniature Portrait

Anne Boleyn's Falcon Badge

Roland Hui thinks the one with inscribed linming is by far the finer. 'Of the two copies of the miniature, the Royal Ontario version is the finer, implying it was the original taken from life. The features of the sitter are livelier, and her jewelry more elaborate with the addition of a golden pendant set with pearls hanging from her necklace.' 

And informal survey shows that I am quite alone in my preferance of the first miniature. She has a quite different expression – gentler, kinder – than the second one. Now, that is admittedly hardly a strong point in favour of her being Anne Boleyn, lol. The other woman has quite sharp expression.

Had it not been for similarity in costume I would never have believed them to portray the same sitter.

I do, however, agree that that they both are miniatures of the same lady.

There are, however, a few interesting differences between between them. The lady on the right with the inscribed limning has an addition of a golden pendant set with pearls hanging from her necklace, and the flowers on the sprig in her gable hood are blue rather than yellow. Also – and this could be wholly subjective – the subject of the brooch looks on the lady on the right with the inscribed limning looks more like a woman, as if the painter was uncertain of the subject and just made something that rather looked like it without capturing the essence of it.

While on the lady on the left I think I can make out Anne Boleyn's falcon symbol on the brooch.

If is indeed of Anne Boleyn, could it be possible that Queen Elizabeth I ordered a copy of a miniature in somebody else's possession of her mother?

But first, could this miniature really be of Anne Boleyn?

I agree that at first glance the miniatures bears little likeness to how we are used to thinking of Anne Boleyn. I am thinking of course of the NPG picture of Anne Boleyn and the Hever painting of Anne Boleyn, and of all the paintings made after the same pattern, like the John Hoskins miniature.

Anne Boleyn – NPG 668 – Hever Castle – John Hoskins Miniature

There is, however, a different tradition for portraying Anne Boleyn.

In her only authenticated image, the Most Happi medal from 1534, the prototype for a series of medals made to celebrate the birth of a son that was not to be, Anne Boleyn is wearing an English gable hood in the style of the mid-1530's.

In the Nidd Hall portrait she is wearing the same type of hood.

And if you compare the two miniatures to the Nidd Hall portrait and the Most Happi medal side by side we can see a clear likeness.

Anne Boleyn – Buccleuch Miniature – Royal Ontario Miniature – Nidd Hall Portrait – Most Happi Medal

In the British Museum there is a sketch by Holbein inscribed in a seventeenth-century hand Anna Bullen de collata / Fuit Londini 19 May 1536. This sketch was engraved in 1649 by Wenceslaus Hollar as Anna Bvllen Regina Anglia.

Alison Weir makes the excellent point that Hollar's engraving may have been based on the original, finished portrait from the sketch by Holbein, and that someone then recognised the sketch from the engraving and wrote Anne's name on it.

That is actually a really good theory.

In any case, this engraving proved to be enourmously popular, and many artists have made their own version of a finished portrait of the sketch.

Two of the finest examples of these can today be seen at Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn's childhood home and Petworth House.

Anne Boleyn – The Bradford Holbein Drawing of a Lady (British Museum) – Hever Castle Portrait – Petworth House, The Egremont Collection Portrait

This tradition appears to have fallen into abeyance, whether because of changing tastes, or because of the more tentative mode of the identication, but Anne Boleyn-in-a-gable-hood appears to have been firmly replaced with Anne Boleyn-in-a-French-hood.

For these miniatures to be Anne Boleyn, however, she must have been 25 years of age or in her 25th year in or around 1527, when, as we can see, these fashions were at their most ... well, fashionable.

Furthermore, her relationship with Henry VIII must have progressed to the point where it would have felt natural for him to commission a miniature of her from the court painter.

As always, I turn to the excellent The Anne Boleyn Files – Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII – When did they get together? There is some disagreement and no certain sources as to when Henry VIII's courtship of Anne Boleyn began. The «first solid evidence we have of Henry VIII being in love with Anne is Henry’s request to the Pope in August 1527 for a dispensation to allow him to marry “one with whom he had already contracted affinity in the first degree through illicit intercourse”, i.e. a dispensation to cover marrying a woman whose sister or mother he had already had sexual intercourse with.»

The Anne Boleyn Files – Henry VIII Falls in Love with Anne Boleyn – «David Starkey dates the start of Henry’s feelings for Anne to Christmas and New Year 1524/1525, shortly after he had stopped sleeping with his wife, Catherine of Aragon.»

That would fit perfectly with our miniature being painted in the summer of 1525, alongside with her father's, the miniature Sir Thomas Boleyn. It would make sense for it to take two years for Henry VIII's ardour to deepen to the sort of commitment that he wished to replace his Queen with her.

As we can see, both of these points in time fit perfectly with the fashions of the lady in the minature.

However, the miniature being Anne Boleyn hinges on her being at the right age, 25 or in her 25th year, when the miniature was painted.

Unfortunately we do not know precisely when Anne was born. «Anne Boleyn was born between 1500 and 1507, but the likeliest date for her birth remains unclear.» Today most historians seem to favour either 1501 or 1507 as a birth year for Anne. I seem to recall a time when 1503 was also popular.

If Anne Boleyn were born in 1507, she would have been 24 or 25 in 1531–1533, a time when this garb would have been hopelessly passé.

However, a birth year anywhere from 1500 to 1505 works nicely. She would then have been 25 or in her 25th year from 1524 to 1530.

Even a birth year as late as 1506 might work. She would have then been in her 25th year, 24 years old, in 1530, which might do for a strech, though I hold this to be unlikely.

So, the miniature being Anne Boleyn hinges on her birth year being closer to 1501–1503 than 1507.

For a comprehensive overview of what information we have about how old Anne was and for a discussion of that information, please see the following articles:

The Anne Boleyn Files – The Early Life of Anne Boleyn Part One – Beginnings

The Anne Boleyn Files – When was Anne Boleyn Born?

Claire of The Anne Boleyn Files concludes her excellent article The Early Life of Anne Boleyn Part One – Beginnings with: «Although the arguments of Retha Warnicke and Gareth Russell did sway me for a while towards 1507, I still believe in the 1501 birth date. The main reason for me believing in 1501 is that I cannot believe that a 7 year old would have been chosen to accompany Mary Tudor to France, it just does not make sense, never mind a 6 year old being sent to Margaret of Austria’s court. I realise that one of the main arguments for 1507 is the evidence of Jane Dormer, who may have heard of Anne’s age from Mary I, but then Mary I also stated on a few occasions that Mark Smeaton fathered Elizabeth! As far as Thomas Boleyn’s “la petite Boulain” comment, that could just be his pet name for his youngest daughter, I know my father’s pet name for me has no bearing on who I am! Gut feeling tells me 1501 and I’m sticking to that for now.»

I did discover that Lady Anne Brandon, later Baroness Grey of Powys, the daughter of Charles Brandon, was sent to Margaret of Austria's court in 1514. In fact, her time there might have shortly overlapped with Anne Boleyn's. We do know that Anne Brandon was born around 1507, so she was about seven at the time. (Claire mentions this elsewhere also, I found it independently.)

In spite of this, my instinct agrees with Claire. It does not make sense to me that Henry VIII would have executed a 29-year-old only to replace her with another 29-year-old. Especially when the first 29-year-old had already given birth to one healthy child, the hearty and hale Elizabeth.

After the series of stillbirths and miscarriages with Katherine of Aragon and the sickly Mary and the sickliness of Henry FitzRoy, that alone ought to have been encouraging. I cannot believe, if Anne was 29, that the king would not have given it at least a few more years to see if the same might not be achieved with a boy.

Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII, was born at Sheen Palace, most probably in March 1496. 

On the 9th of October 1514, at the age of 18, Mary married the 52-year-old King Louis XII of France. She was accompanied to France by four English maids of honour. One of those maids of honour was Anne Boleyn.

Though the marriage was short – Louis died on the 1st of January 1515, less than three months after marrying Mary – Anne Boleyn's tenure as her maid of honour was apparently enough to make Mary mislike Anne for the rest of their lives.

It would be curious if a child of seven could spark such dislike in a girl nine years her senior.

But a girl of fourteen … ?

There was, however, something very young about Anne Boleyn. Her carelessness in creating enemies, her belief that what she and Henry VIII had together was True Love, and her consequent expectation that he would be true.

It has been said that a lot of the mess Mary, Queen of Scots got herself into, was because of a lack of experience due to her charmed ubringing in France.

Well, Anne Boleyn was raised at the French court, too.

Like Mary, Queen of Scots, she was adept at court intrigues, and abysmally bad at politics.

As for whom Queen Elizabeth I Tudor could have copied the miniatures from …

Well, Anne had a sister.

The today not-entirely-unknown Mary Boleyn. 

After the death of their parents, she was the sole heir, and any miniatures in their possession would have passed to her. If Thomas Boleyn had commissioned a miniature of himself to commemorate an occasion and have a likeness of himself, it seems logical it would indeed have been in his possession.

Either of Anne's parents could have had the miniature of their daughter, and it seems highly unlikely that they, either father or mother, would have destroyed the likeness of their lost child, no matter what ban Henry VIII had put on pictures of her. Even for Henry VIII, creating problems for the parents of two people he had executed on the most trumped-up of charges for keeping a miniature of their dead child, seems a bit … much.

It appears that two miniatures of Katherine Howard have survived also, so people were clearly willing to take that risk.

Of course, I am not suggesting that anybody made a public statement of intent of keeping the miniatures, they probably just kept them, quietly, hidden away, banking on that nobody would search their private coffers, as would appear indeed did not happen.

Elizabeth herself had been declared illegitimate and was thus ineligible to inherit under English law at that time, so she was not entitled to any part of her grandparents' estate.

This does not appear to have created any coolness with her aunt's family, however. Elizabeth had, materialistically, anything she could need growing up.

Mary Boleyn - Private Collection Portrait

Mary Boleyn (c.1499/1500 – 19th of July 1543), who m. in 1520 William Carey, by whom – or by Henry VIII  she had:

  • Catherine Carey (c.1524 – 15th of January 1569), who mon the 26th of April 1540 Sir Francis Knollys, by whom she had:
  • Lettice Knollys (8th of November 1543 – 25th of December 1634), who min late 1560 Walter Devereux, Viscount Hereford, by whom she had:
  • Dorothy Devereux (c.1564 – 3rd of August 1619), who m. 2) in 1594 Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland (27th of April 1564 – 5th of November 1632), by whom she had:
  • Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland, 4th Baron Percy (29th of September 1602 – 13th of October 1668), who m. 2) in October 1642 Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, by whom he had:
  • Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland, 5th Baron Percy (4th of July 1644 – 31st of May 1670), who m. on the 23rd of December 1662 Lady Elizabeth Wriothesley, 3rd daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton, by whom he had: 
  • Elizabeth Percy, suo jure Baroness Percy (26th of January 1667 – 24th of November 1722). She was a great heiress as the only surviving child and sole heiress of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland (1644–1670). She brought immense estates to her husband's and in addition her residences: Alnwick Castle, Petworth House, Syon House and Northumberland House in London.


Lady Elizabeth Percy married Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset the first known owner of the Royal Ontario miniature. 

It is by this line of descent that Roland Hui suggests that the Royal Ontario miniature, the miniature of the woman in 1520's garb with the inscription, ended up with Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset.

I would like to suggest an alternative theory.

If we examine the dates on this family tree more closely, we see that Lettice Knollys actually outlived her daughter Dorothy Devereux by 15 years. Of course the miniature portraits may have been inherited directly from grandmother to grandson, from Lettice Knollys to Algernon Percy, bypassing Lettice Knollys' other descendants, such as her grandson Robert Devereux, the young 3rd Earl of Essex, who shared much of his life with the old Countess at Chartley and Drayton Bassett.

The miniatures may, of course, also have been a gift in life to a beloved daughter, from Lettice Knollys to Dorothy Devereux, passing then naturally upon the death of Dorothy Devereux to her son, rather than revert back to her mother.

There is, however, another option.

What if Dorothy Devereux was not given them by her mother, but was gifted these miniatures by somebody else?

Dorothy Devereux, after a disastrous first marriage which was contracted without the Queen's consent and gave grave offence to Elizabeth I, the Queen consented to receive Dorothy at court again after her first husband's death, and Dorothy Devereux became something of a royal favourite.

It is known that Elizabeth I Tudor was very fond of her first cousins (and possible half-siblings) Catherine Carey and Henry Carey, the children of her mother's sister.

Many of Elizabeth I Tudor's favourites of her mother's blood predeceased her:

Catherine Carey, her beloved cousin and possible half-sister, the acknowledged favourite of Elizabeth's relations, predeceased the Queen by nearly 35 years.

Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon (4th of March 1526 – 23rd of July 1596), Catherine Carey's brother, to whom the Queen described herself as 'Your loving kinswoman', predeceased the Queen by seven years.

Katherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham, the daughter of Henry Carey, and a cousin, lady-in-waiting, and close confidante of Elizabeth I of England. She was in attendance on the Queen for 44 years and died a few weeks before Elizabeth I. Her death was thought to have hastened the Queen's own.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (10th of November 1565 – 25th of February 1601), Dorothy's brother and Elizabeth I's favourite in her later years, had been in executed in 1601 following a failed rebellion against her.

Could it be possible that it was Elizabeth I herself who gifted the miniature to Dorothy Devereux?

My suggestion is that the Royal Ontario miniature was the Queen's own copy of the Buccleuch miniature. Who it was who originally owned the Buccleuch miniature is a matter of speculation, but as I have mentioned I find Roland Hui's argument for the male sitter in the de Wet and Sotheby miniature being Thomas Boleyn persuasive.

The de Wet miniature

Effigy of Thomas Boleyn (1538) – St. Peter’s Church

Roland Hui, however, in his article Two New Faces: the Hornebolte Portraits of Mary and Thomas Boleyn? goes on to argue that the lady in the Royal Ontario Miniature is Mary Boleyn.

What if, instead of the lady being Mary Boleyn, it is indeed Anne Boleyn?

The Buccleuch miniature may still have been inherited by Mary in the manner described by Roland Hui, but together with the Sotheby miniature instead of the de Wet miniature – that is to say, the two miniatures without inscriptions that bears such a resemblance to the early work of Lucas Horenbout – as an inheritance from either her father or her mother, of whose estate she was the sole heir.

Mary was the sole heir of their estate, as their only surviving child. Of the three surviving children of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire and his wife Lady Elizabeth Howard, Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn had been executed a few years before their parents' deaths. George had no children. Anne had a daughter, Elizabeth. She was the only other possible heir. Elizabeth, however, had been declared illegitimate and was thus ineligible to inherit.

The fact that the miniature survived suggests that it had belonged to somebody who was close to and who had cared about Anne. It was not without risk to be in possession of a picture of the disgraced Anne Boleyn.

Mary Boleyn passed away in 1544, when Elizabeth was eleven, and more than 14 years before her niece would ascend to the throne.

Elizabeth, however, was on excellent terms with both of Mary's children, her cousins Catherine and Henry Carey. She was also on excellent terms with her uncle, Mary Boleyn's widower Sir William Stafford, or at least as much may be gleaned from the fact that not only his step-children Catherine and Henry Carey, who were the Queen's blood relatives and closest kin, but his widow, Dorothy Stafford – his second wife and the children from this second marriage who were no blood relatives of the Queen at all, all became influential courtiers under Elizabeth.

There would therefore have been little difficulty for Elizabeth in obtaining the miniatures from Mary Boleyn's heirs, with whom she was close, and have her court painter make copies of them for her.

It might reasonably be asked that if Mary Boleyn's heirs had the miniatures and Elizabeth I wished to obtain them, why did she not simply do so?

Why go to the trouble of copying them at all when she could have simply had the original miniatures?

Well, going about demanding treasured family heirlooms from people with whom one wishes to have a good relationship is seldom adviseable. One does have to choose between the two.

Besides, the Queen might have liked the idea of somebody else having a picture of her mother, who had cared about Anne Boleyn, and cared about Anne Boleyn still.

The fact that the two branches of the family each had their own set of pictures of family members might have solidified the feeling of kinship. A feeling Elizabeth had not been overly familiar with throughout her life.

The Buccleuch Miniature

Anne Boleyn - Buccleuch Miniature (detail)

We can see the shape and colour of the flower being repeated in the pattern of the lady's gable hood.

Whatever flower, it must have had some sort of special significance to the wearer.

Searching for the meaning of forget-me-nots in Tudor imagery, I came over a website: Symbols and Meanings in Medieval Plants, that outlines several flowers of particular importance in Tudor imagery, amongst others:

The flowers on the lady's gable hood in the Buccleuch miniature could be a sprig of cowslip.

And then the meaning assigned to cowslip in Tudor times becomes interesting. Gates were certainly opening for Anne Boleyn, and she would have been very interested in opening them.

Having or being the key to opening those gates would certainly have been of interest to her.

Could this be an example of the cheeky humour, her sharp pertness, that was so much a part of Anne, and which so attracted Henry until it didn't anymore? 

And through her bodily ascension ... Could that have been a playful little cheeky joke to the one who was paying for the portrait?

Or from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn?

That the gates of Heaven would open up for her through her bodily ascension? 

He did initially attempt to persuade her to take on the role of official royal mistress, after all. His maîtresse-en-titre, his official royal mistress, an arrangement inspired by the French. An offer that so offended Anne Boleyn that the King had to work very hard in order to get back into her good graces. 

Anne Boleyn – Royal Ontario Miniature (detail)

Whatever its meaning, the sprig of flowers gains in significance when you realise that whoever the artist or artists of the Royal Ontario and the Buccleuch miniatures were, they made the conscious choice to replace the sprig of flowers either from yellow to blue or from blue to yellow.

Barring discolouring, the sprig of yellow flowers has been replaced with a sprig of blue flowers in the Royal Ontario miniature.

This may be for several reasons. One is that the original reason for the choice flowers might have been lost so one might have sought to replace them with something meaningful for the new patron.

Another is that if we are right in the assigned meaning of the flowers, it was thought to be too bawdy for a copy that was to be for their child. Not to mention inappropriate, as everyone at the English court would have been uncomfortably aware of how their romance ended.

Which brings me back to my search for the meaning of forget-me-nots in Tudor imagery.

Could the blue flowers be forget-me-nots? And if they were, were their meaning anything close to the same as we would ascribe to them today?

According to Symbols and Meanings in Medieval Plants the meaning of forget-me-nots in Tudor times were:


A legend tells of the Christ child sitting in his mother’s lap, and wishing that future generations could see them like this. So he touched her eyes and waved his hand over the ground and forget me nots sprang forth. Wherever they are found or represented it reminds the viewer of the strength of maternal love, especially the Virgin’s for our Lord.


Anne Boleyn - Royal Ontario Miniature (detail)

Besides, the name forget-me-nots is pretty self-explanatory.

However, there are several other interesting differences between the two (nearly) identical miniatures.

The Buccleuch Miniature of Anne Boleyn

The Royal Ontario Miniature of Anne Boleyn

There is also the addition of a pendant in the Royal Ontario miniature. A pendant that looks almost flowerlike. Going back to our Symbols and Meanings in Medieval Plants, searching for flowers that bear a resemblance to the pendant worn by the lady in the miniature, we find this:

The Royal Ontario Miniature (detail)

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Lily of the Valley

Tradition tells that it sprang from Mary’s tears, which is why the flower hangs down. Often it is depicted growing at her feet to presage sorrow.



This plant is associated with infant Jesus as it is an evergreen and winter flowering. Also known as Lenten rose as it flowers very early in Spring.

There is, however, nothing in the known facts about Anne Boleyn's life to indicate that early spring would have had any kind of special significance to her. Anne's only child, Elizabeth, was born on the 7th of September 1533, Anne's secret wedding to Henry VIII took place on the 14th of November 1532, and their formal one on the 25th of January 1533, Anne was crowned Queen of England on the 1st of June 1533, and her elevation to the peerage as Marquess of Pembroke took place on the 1st of September 1532.

Even her namesake saint's day was in the middle of the summer, the Feast of St. Anne on the 26th of July.

If anything, Anne's life was curiously devoid of good things happening in early spring.

We must therefore look for at the other meanings. If the pendant on the necklace is indeed a hellebore surrounded by lilies of the valley, the other meanings assigned these two flowers become significant.

Hellebore is associated with the infant Christ, lily of the valley with his mother's grief. Put together you have the symbolism of a mother and her small child and the grief and sorrow of the separation between them by death.

Not unlike the situation of Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth I.

The third significant difference between the two miniatures are the brooch on lady's gown.

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I know that I confidently asserted before that I could make out Anne Boleyn's falcon symbol on the brooch on the lady's gown in the Buccleuch miniature. It is, in fact, quite impossible to make out what it is. It might be Anne Boleyn's falcon symbol. It can just as easily be the personal symbol of any of Henry's other wives, for that matter.

Or something completely different.

In any case, Anne did not become Marquess of Pembroke until 1532 and Henry's Queen until 1533, necessitating the need for a personal emblem, well after the Buccleuch miniature was painted. It could still be the Ormond falcon, though.

Anne’s identification as ‘the white falcon’ has its origins in the heraldic crests of the Butlers, earls of Ormonde. In 1529, Thomas Boleyn was recognised as the Butler heir and the falcon appears as a crest on his brass in Hever Church

On the Tudor Trail – Anne Boleyn Badges, Symbolism & Mottoes – The Falcon

The artist who copied the Buccleuch miniature must have been as equally at a loss at we are, because while the general outline of the figure on the brooch is followed, the figure now resembles that of a lady.

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The tiny figure has perfectly the silhouette of a lady from Henry VIII's reign. She is facing slightly to the viewer's left. You can see her little «French hood», her black veil falling behind her shoulders. Her skirt is draped on the grass. She has a blue wrap or shawl, or blue furs, over her «arms». A miniature within a miniature.


But who was this lady meant to represent?


Queen Elizabeth I Tudor's mother, Anne Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn – NPG 668

Elizabeth herself? Her mother keeping her over her heart?

Elizabeth I when a Princess by William Scrots

A thank you from Anne Boleyn to Katherine Parr, Elizabeth's beloved step-mother?

Katherine Parr by Master John

Or to Katherine Howard, also her step-mother and her mother's cousin, who was very kind to the child Elizabeth, calling her 'kinswoman' in a time not many claimed affinity with the executed and disgraced Anne Boleyn and her demoted child?

Katherine Howard by Hans Holbein the Younger

Or perhaps even all of the above? A homage to all the women above.

Close-up of Ontario Anne's falcon badge with the Ormond falcon superimposed


I would like to thank one of my readers, Arlene Allen, for the creation of this image of a close-up of Ontario Anne's falcon badge with the Ormond falcon superimposed, and for linking me to it. The image can be found on Pinterest here. Arlene, please let me know if you have a problem with me including this image on my site. I thought it was very interesting and well done and would be honoured if you are okay with me including it.

Since the shape of the figure in the brooch in both of these two miniatures is essentially the same, these findings also go for the Buccleuch Miniature. 

It would have made a great deal of sense for Anne Boleyn to have been portrayed with the Ormond falcon in the 1520's.

I still maintain that the little figure in the Royal Ontario Miniature looks like a miniature Tudor lady, however the outline of the shape in the Buccleuch Miniature has been followed carefully.

If I am correct in that the Royal Ontario Miniature is a later copy of the Buccleuch Miniature, then roughly 30 years separate the mid-to-late 1520's from the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, and as previously stated the exact nature and the meaning of the symbol may have been lost, though Elizabeth herself used her mother's symbol. Perhaps the Ormond falcon was of much less importance to Elizabeth's court painter.

Miniatures Attributed to Lucas Horenbout

As I was scrolling down miniatures attributed to Lucas Horenbout/bolte, the same miniatures we or anybody interested in Tudor history have seen a thousand times, something struck me as odd, or rather, it didn't strike me as odd right away.

Katherine of Aragon Attributed to Lucas Horenbout

The Buccleuch Miniature Portrait

Portrait Miniature of Anne Boleyn

(Katharine of Aragon)

Lucas Horenbout (South Netherlandish painter, c.1490-1544, active in England)


«Miniature Watercolour on vellum set in gold frame 4.2 cm [diameter]. Inscriptions: Engraved on 19h century cartouche: KATHARINE OF ARRAGON. First known owner Charles II. From Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill Collection.»

The de Wet Miniature Portrait – Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, attributed to Lucas Hornebolte, c.1525. Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum. 4 cm diameter. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1267671/portrait-miniature-of-a-gentleman-miniature-horenbout-lucas/)

The Yale Miniature Portrait - Unknown Lady Attributed to Levina Teerlinc (d. 1576) Gouache on thin card; 1 7/8 in. ca. 1535-45, Provenance: Paul Mellom (d. 1999), by whom; Gifted to Yale Center for British Art, 1966.



As I was scrolling I noticed that one of them had a lot more letters on them than the others.

I had of course noticed this lettering before, but simply assumed that they were Roman numerals.

You'll have to forgive me, but we did not have Latin in school. Barely Roman numerals. I naturally recognised V and X, and I thought that I would now take the time to find out what O and R stood for.

Much to my surprise, they didn't appear to be Roman numerals at all. Could it be a word? VXOR? I tried googling it, and got only gobbledygook. I thought about it until I finally remembered this weird word I had once read, uxorious, which I had had to look up.

uxorious – having or showing a great or excessive fondness for one's wife

I tried substituting the V with a U. Could it be the Latin word for or have something to do with the Latin word for wife? Now that I had found the solution on my own, Google was obliging. UXOR is indeed the Latin word for wife.

Now that I had understood that it was indeed words, and not just Roman numerals, assembling the rest of the text and translating it was easy.

* REGINA * KATHERINA * EIVS * UXOR * – Queen Katherine his wife

There was another one that seemed to have more text on it than the others. That one said:

REX * HENRICVS * OCTAVVS – King Henry the Eight

Okay. So King Henry the Eight and Queen Katherine his wife. That seemed clear enough. But ... Wait a minute. Weren't it only posthumous miniatures that were inscribed? Isn't that why are struggling to try to identify these? Because it wasn't usual to inscribe miniatures and paintings with names?

Could the miniatures ... be posthumous?

Now, I will admit that there has always been something 'un-English' about this outfit to me. It is not that Katherine of Aragon is dressed in a way she that is not dressed in in any other portrait of her – she is allowed different modes of dress if she so wished – it is that she is dressed in a way I have not seen any other English woman in any other portrait from this time dressed in.

The Wikipedia article about 1500–1550 in Western European fashion confirms and puts into words this inkling:

«In the first half of the 16th century, German dress varied widely from the costume worn in other parts of Europe.»

«The high-waisted gown of the late medieval period evolved in several directions in different parts of Europe. In the German states and Bohemia, gowns remained short-waisted, tight-laced but without corsets. The open-fronted gown laced over the kirtle or a stomacher or plackard. Sleeves were puffed and slashed, or elaborately cuffed.»

These sleeves are clearly puffed and slashed. They are clearly not the type of sleeve seen on any other English lady in this period at all.

Katherine of Aragon is wearing German fashion.

The cross Katherine of Aragon is wearing in her miniature is the same cross that Katherine Parr is wearing in the Sudeley miniature of her, which we are by now very familiar with.

The shape is the same, the dark colouring of the stones in it is the same, the hanging pearl is the same, the fact that it seems to almost lack the upper part of the vertical perpendicular bar, almost but not quite creating a T-shaped cross.

Miniature of Jane Seymour

The cross Katherine Parr is wearing in her miniature is to distinctive that it is possible to recognise the same cross in a minature of Jane Seymour, where she wears it as a brooch pinned to her gown.

In fact, it appears to be a Tau Cross or crux commissa. The tau cross is a T-shaped cross all three ends of which are sometimes expanded. It is so called because shaped like the Greek letter tau, which in its upper-case form has the same appearance as Latin and English T.

Another name for the same object is Saint Anthony's cross or Saint Anthony cross, a name given to it because of its association with Saint Anthony of Egypt.

The Whitehall Mural (detail showing Jane Seymour). Remigius van Leemput after Hans Holbein the Younger. 1667. Royal Collection

The same cross can be seen in the The Whitehall Mural by Remigius van Leemput after Hans Holbein the Younger, also worn by Jane Seymour, where she like Katherine Parr wears it as a pendant attached to a pearl necklace.

The Whitehall Mural was commissioned to adorn the privy chamber of Henry VIII's newly acquired Palace of Whitehall. It featured life-size images of Henry VIII, his parents Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and his third wife and the mother of his heir, Jane Seymour. It would have been a truly impressive sight for any visitor to behold.

The mural itself was Whitehall Palace was consumed by fire in 1698, but fortunately we have some surviving copies, one by Remigius van Leemput made in 1667, one by George Vertue after Remigius van Leemput after Hans Holbein the Younger made in 1737, and a further one by Remigius van Leemput that has incorporated King Edward VI made in 1669 and which is now at Petworth.

The Whitehall Mural 1737 (detail showing Jane Seymour). George Vertue after Hans Holbein the Younger. 1737 after original from 1537+ Royal Collection

A visitor in the days of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I or Elizabeth I would, however, have seen a life-size version of this, designed to impress and intimidate.

«Henry VIII ‘inherited’ Whitehall Palace after Cardinal Wolsey’s death in 1529. He spent a considerable amount of money on it and it was regarded as the largest palace in Europe. It covered 23 acres and included extensive private lodgings. It was here that Holbein created his largest and most important royal commission, the Whitehall mural, in which Henry was portrayed with his Queen Jane Seymour and his parents, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.»

«There have been disagreements about why the painting was produced and who was meant to see it. Some believe that it was made for publicity purposes and to be seen by visitors. Others believe it was a private image, meant meant only to be seen by the king and his senior courtiers, whilst intimidating selected diplomatic visitors. But it was probably painted on a wall in Henry's Privy Chamber in Whitehall Palace.» – The Whitehall Mural, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool Museums

Jane Seymour, Queen of England, by Hans Holbein the Younger

The IHS brooch is the one worn by Jane Seymour in her most recognized portrait by Hans Holbein the younger. I have never heard of this brooch originating with anyone else than Jane Seymour.

It is not listed among the jewellery of the late Queen Anne Boleyn (listed in full below). Nor is it worn by any subsequent Queens of England, indicating perhaps that this was Queen Jane's own personal jewellery and not a part of the royal treasury.

In the little miniature of Katherine of Aragon that I believe to be posthumous, she is also wearing the so-called consort necklace. This is the same one that can be seen in this portrait of Jane Seymour, the Royal Collection and Buccleuch miniature of Katherine Howard, in many of the portraits of Katherine Parr, and in the Most Happi medal of Anne Boleyn. This piece of jewellery consists of a necklace and choker of precious stones set in a quatrefoils alternating with pearl clusters.

It is not my belief that this necklace was ever in the possession of Katherine of Aragon.

IHS brooch - Jane Seymour, Queen of England, by Hans Holbein the Younger (detail) and miniature portrait of Katherine of Aragon (detail of NPG 4682)

Comparing the two brooches side by side it is clear that the IHS brooch Katherine of Aragon is wearing in this particular miniature of her is the same one worn by Jane Seymour in her most recognized portrait by Hans Holbein the younger above.


Jane Seymour by Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger (Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis)

The “IHS” brooch that Jane Seymour is depicted as wearing in her most recognized portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger above, and the many subsequent copies thereof, a fine example of which can be seen here, has become somewhat of an iconic look.

The “IHS” monogram refers to the Holy Name of Jesus. The Anne Boleyn Files – Lady Bergavenny turns into Anne Boleyn?

IHS are the first three letters of the Holy Name of Jesus in Greek.

The Whitehall mural and the Holbein portrait of Jane or one of its many copies would have been readily available to anyone at the Tudor court in the 1550's who wished to know how a Queen of England would have looked like in an earlier time.

Henry VIII banned portraits of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, Anne of Cleves was queen for such a short time and her portraiture shows her in her Flanders Fashions from before the wedding. Katherine Parr was queen very close to the 1550's themselves.

Katherine of Aragon (detail of NPG 4682) with Jane Seymour's cross

And it is peculiar that the only portrait that shows Katherine of Aragon with any of this jewellery is the 'Lucas Horenbout' miniature of her, in which she is dressed in altogether the wrong fashion for her time and her country.

It is almost so one is tempted to entertain the idea that the jewellery has passed not in the ordinary way from Katherine of Aragon to Jane Seymour via Anne Boleyn, but was given from Jane Seymour to Katherine of Aragon posthumously by someone trying to recreate the image of a Queen of England.

Furthermore, the National Portrait Gallery makes note of a small blue flower, tucked into the bodice of her dress, and which is visible beneath the jewelled cross.

Now I am not a botanist, but those look an awful lot like forget-me-nots to me.



A legend tells of the Christ child sitting in his mother’s lap, and wishing that future generations could see them like this. So he touched her eyes and waved his hand over the ground and forget me nots sprang forth. Wherever they are found or represented it reminds the viewer of the strength of maternal love, especially the Virgin’s for our Lord.

Symbols and Meanings in Medieval Plants

Lais of Corinth by Hans Holbein the Younger

Rather, the lady in the miniature's costume bears a striking resemblance to the one worn in the picture Lais of Corinth by Hans Holbein the Younger.

This picture is also known as Portrait of prostitute by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Now, it is entire possible that the prostitutes in Holbein's day was as fashion-conscious as they come, it is however curious that her costume should so resemble that of the Queen of England.

There exists at least versions of this portrait, two of Lais of Corinth itself, and one called Venus and Amor (also known as Venus and Cupid) a c.1524 painting by the German painter and printmaker Hans Holbein the Younger. 

Lais of Corinth is believed to have been painted a year or two after.

Venus and Amor by Hans Holbein the Younger, c.1524

'The model is believed to be his friend Magdalena Offenburg, who may have been Holbein's mistress. Venus and Amor was painted after Holbein's return to Basel following a short stay in France. While in France, he had access to the collection of Francois I, and it's believed likely that this work was one of his early responses to his exposure to the Italian painters of the era. Such influences can be seen in the gesture of Venus, whose pose closely echoes that of Jesus in Leonardo's 1498 Last Supper.

In addition, her long, oval, idealised face seems closely modeled on Leonardo's depictions of the Virgin Mary.'

Could it be possible that somebody saw this painting or a copy or a print of it and thought that it instead was a picture of the Virgin and Mary and the Christ child?

And thought the outfit of the Queen of Heaven quite appropriate for the Queen of England?

We must also not forget that Hans Holbein the Younger painted these paintings in 1524-1526, making the outfit of the woman in the picture appropriate for the time, if not the place, that Mary I Tudor would still have been a beloved child and both in possession of her parents and of their love.

For an artist born in the low countries in the 1510's, such as court painter Levina Teerlinc, this is the fashion for women she would have remembered from her childhood and early youth as women wearing in the mid-1520's.

Side By Side – Miniature of Katherine of Aragon and Lais of Corinth by Hans Holbein the Younger

The miniature shows more evidence of attempting to recreate someone, rather than drawing someone from life.

All in all I cannot help but ask myself the question: Was this a miniature created after Katherine of Aragon's death? A miniature which set out to recreate the queen, rather than paint her from life?

A portrait commissioned by her grieving daughter, Mary I Tudor? Mary, who we know loved her mother?

One of a set of two portraits, the first of her father at an age when he was still the devoted father to Mary, the husband of her beloved mother?

King Henry the Eight and Queen Katherine his wife.

King Henry the Eight and Queen Katherine his wife

Mary I (1516–1558), Queen of England and Ireland by Hans Eworth

Mary I (1516–1558), Queen of England and Ireland


Hans Eworth (c.1520–after 1578)

Society of Antiquaries of London: Burlington House


One of the first things Mary I Tudor did when she ascended the throne in 1554 was to order a bunch of portraits of herself.

Is it so without the realm of reason that she would also have commissioned a couple of pictures of her parents, her parents, whom we know she loved?

Was it for this reason that Levina Teerlinc was paid more than Holbein? For the ability to recreate what had been?

In her tenure as court painter to the Tudor house from 1546 to 1576 she served Henry VIII Tudor, Edward VI Tudor, Mary I Tudor and Elizabeth I Tudor.

Levina Teerlinc received an annual salary of £40 from 1546 to her death in 1576, as granted by Henry VIII, which was more than had been granted to Holbein, a man most would agree readily easily that surpassed her in genius and brilliance.

All of Henry VIII children were motherless, having lost their mothers early in dramatic and tragic circumstances. Edward VI would also have lost the woman whom he loved as a mother and who was as a mother to him, Katherine Parr, during his reign.

Henry VIII too lost his parents early, and his grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, who had a hand in raising him.

How much would you have been willing to pay for beautiful pictures of aquaintances, and how much would you have been willing to pay for the image of a lost loved one?

It is not as if posthumous paintings were outside of the norm.

This portrait of The Family of Henry VII with St. George and the Dragon was painted c.1505-9, was painted when five of the nine family members in it were dead.


The Family of Henry VII with St. George and the Dragon

The Family of Henry VII with St. George and the Dragon


Unknown Flemish Artist

The Royal Collection | RCIN 401228


An article about the exhibition at Hampton Court Palace in which this portrait was displayed touches upon this:

«The Family of Henry VII with St George, a fantasy portrait of Henry VII with his then dead wife, and his dead and living children. It was painted to emphasise the fruitfulness of the new Tudor dynasty, making more secure Henry VII's questionable claim to the English throne.»

It is thought to have been commissioned directly by Henry VII from a Flemish artist working at his court.


The Whitehall Mural 1737. George Vertue after Hans Holbein the Younger. 1737 after original from 1537+

The Whitehall Mural was commissioned by Henry VIII and certainly painted after the deaths of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Roughly three decades after the passing of them both, as a matter of fact.

Some also believe that it was painted after the passing of Queen Jane Seymour. We have to remember that this was in a time before photography. If you did not have an existing picture of lost loved one or a picture that displayed them in such a manner as you wished, you had to ... make one.

This shows that people far from being adverse to posthumous paintings in Tudor times, Henry VIII had a giant mural of his dead family erected which he would have had to look at every time he was at Whitehall.

To draw a modern paralell, to the Tudors it appears that posthumous paintings filled the same function as us making a copy of a photograph. To draw this paralell further, perhaps miniatures to them was the same as keeping a photo booth photo in your wallet is to us, or, to be even more modern, having a photograph as a screensaver on our phones.

We have to remember that one of the early, popular uses of photography was the to us quite incomprehensible memento mori tradition. (Don't google this if you don't know what it is. At least don't look at the pictures, whatever you do.) But to many poor people this was the only way to have an image of someone they had loved in their lives going forward.

Often they paid much more than they could afford to get it.

It is then not surprising that someone with far more resources (resourses that would have been almost unimaginable and completely out of reach to the poor farmer or worker of the 19th century) in earlier ages would do the exact same thing, but with a far more aesthetically pleasing result.

Titian, Portrait of Isabella of Portugal, 1548. Isabella died in 1539.

It is not as if this was particularly an English custom, either. 

I still remember my surprise upon discovering that the famous portrait of Isabella of Portugal was, in fact, posthumous.

Isabella of Portugal (24 October 1503 – 1 May 1539) was Holy Roman Empress and Queen of Spain, Germany, Italy, Naples and Sicily and Duchess of Burgundy by her marriage to Emperor Charles V, and regent of Spain during many of the long absences of her husband.

She died in 1539 at the age of 35. The Emperor was left so devastated by his wife's death that he could not bring himself to accompany her body to her original burial place in Granada. Instead, he instructed their son Philip to accompany his mother's body, while Charles locked himself up in a monastery for two months, where he prayed and mourned for his wife alone. 

«In the aftermath, Charles never recovered from Isabella's death; he never remarried and he dressed in black for the rest of his life. In memory of her, he commissioned several tributes through art and music, beginning in 1540 when he commissioned the Flemish composer Thomas Crecquillon to compose new music in honour of the Empress. Crecquillon composed his Missa Mort m'a privé as a memorial to Isabella, which expresses the Emperor's grief and great wish for a heavenly reunion with his beloved wife. Another musical tribute to Isabella is Carole cur defles Isabellam that was composed in 1545 by the Franco-Flemish composer Nicolas Payen.

In 1543, Charles commissioned his favourite painter Titian to paint posthumous portraits of Isabella by using earlier ones of her as his model. Titian painted several portraits of the Empress, which included his Portrait of The Empress Isabel of Portugal and La Gloria. He also painted a double portrait of Charles and Isabella together, of which there is a copy by Rubens. Charles kept these portraits with him whenever he travelled and after he abdicated in 1555, he retired to the Monastery of Yuste. The portraits by Titian were among those he brought with him and he would spend hours everyday contemplating them, especially the portrait of Isabella.»

This might even have inspired Henry VIII, who was always eager to follow the latest trends.

Moost Happi Anno 1534 medal, restored version by Lucy Churchill

In the most Moost Happi Anno 1534 medal, restored version by Lucy Churchill, we can see that Anne Boleyn also wears a cross.

It is unclear if this is the same cross that Katherine Parr is wearing in the minature above, however.

The cross Katherine Parr is wearing in her miniature is so distinct that it is possible to recognise the same cross in a minature of Jane Seymour and in the Whitehall Mural.

Lucy Churchill, who restored the medal, which is the only completely indisputable existing likeness of Anne during her lifetime, has this to say of it:

«I had just completed, with the permission of The British Museum, my study of what is the only surviving and undisputed contemporary portrait of Anne Boleyn – the Moost Happi Anno 1534 medal, and had concluded that it contained much more data than had previously supposed. The medal is made from lead and though there is no sign of willful damage careless storage in the past had resulted in some compression of the features. This lead historians to dismiss the value of this image as a tool for comparison.

This could be the same cross, therefore putting a dent in our theory, that this in this particular case of this miniature was jewellery not inherited from wife to wife, but rather posthumously assigned from Jane Seymour to Katherine of Aragon in an effort to recreate an image of the latter after her death.

Crosses were hardly unusual or controversial jewellery for the time period, however, and were worn by a wide slew of women.

However, on close examination I saw that it was only Anne’s left eye and her nose that had been displaced and that all other details could be viewed in great and precise detail. The quality of craftsmanship was so high that even the weave of the fabric on her headdress, the jeweled billiment and the necklace could be identified as that worn by Jane Seymour in a portrait by Holbein.»

Portrait of Johanna, Lady Abergavenny, in which she is wearing a cross

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Miniature of Katherine Parr, in which she is wearing a cross

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Unknown woman, wearing a cross

However, even at the risk of discrediting my own theory, I must admit that the cross Anne Boleyn is wearing in the Most Happi medal looks as if this could very well be the same cross as the one Jane Seymour is wearing in her miniature and the Whitehall Mural.

However, does it by that naturally follow that Anne Boleyn inherited the cross from Katherine of Aragon?

Well, as Claire of The Anne Boleyn Files writes, Henry VIII took Katherine of Aragon's 'jewelry from her to give to his new love'.

The incident is recorded in Letters and Papers:

«But though on this matter of the journey and interview the courtiers appear cold and indifferent, certain it is that the Lady [Anne] thinks otherwise, for knowing very well how to make hay while the sun shines, she has not been slack to provide herself with rich and most expensive dresses and ornaments, which the King has ordered to be bought for the occasion. After sending her his own jewels (baghes), the King has, I hear, lately given the duke of Norfolk commission, and he has come down here on purpose, to procure through a third person those belonging to the Queen; who, I am told, said to the bearer of the Royal message: "., cannot present the King with my jewels as he desires, inasmuch as when, on a late occasion, I, according to the custom of this kingdom, presented him with a New Year's gift he warned me to refrain from such presents in future. Besides which (she said) it is very annoying and offensive to me, and I would consider it a sin and a load upon my conscience if I were persuaded to give up my jewels (baghes) for such a wicked purpose as that of ornamenting a person who is the scandal of Christendom, and is bringing vituperation and infamy upon the King, through his taking her with him to such a meeting across the Channel. Yet," continued the Queen, "if the King sends expressly for my jewels I am ready to obey his commands in that as well as in all other matters." Though highly displeased and sore at the Queen's answer the King nevertheless did send a gentleman of his chamber, who brought express orders to the Queen's Chancellor, and to her Chamberlain, to see to the delivery of the said jewels (fn. n4) besides a letter to the Queen herself in credence of the messenger, who said to her in the King's name that he was very much astonished at her not having sent her jewels forthwith when he first asked for them, as the queen of France, her sister, and many other [ladies] would have done." (fn. n5) Upon which the Queen gently pleaded excuse for her former refusal, and sent him. the whole of her jewels, and the King, as I am given to understand, is very much pleased and glad at it.»

Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 4 Part 2, 1531-1533. Spain: October 1532, 1-15, p. 523-537

So that was ... heartbreaking.

(It does, however, seem as if Katherine was in possession of some of her jewellery when she died, and had enough control of them to bequeath them to whom she wished, in this case her daughter Mary. Highlighting perhaps the difference between a Queen's personal property and what belonged to the Crown? Or simply that she dared to keep something that was unequivocally hers, in spite of Henry.

Katherine of Aragon's will: «Desires the King to let her have the goods she holds of him in gold and silver and the money due to her in time past; that her body may be buried in a convent of Observant Friars; that 500 masses be said for her soul; that some personage go to our Lady of Walsingham on pilgrimage and distribute 20 nobles on the way. Bequests: to Mrs. Darel 200l. for her marriage. To my daughter, the collar of gold which I brought out of Spain. To Mrs. Blanche 100l. To Mrs. Margery and Mrs. [Whyller] 40l. each. To Mrs. Mary, my physicians [wife, and] Mrs. Isabel, daughter to Mr. Ma[rguerite], 40l. each. To my physician the year’s coming [wages]. To Francisco Philippo all that I owe him, and 40l. besides. To Master John, my apothecary, [a year’s wages] and all that is due to him besides. That Mr. Whiller be paid expenses about the making of my gown, and 20l. besides. To Philip, Anthony, and Bastian, 20l. each. To the little maidens 10l. each. That my goldsmith be paid his wages for the year coming and all that is due to him besides. That my lavander [her laundress] be paid what is due to her and her wages for the year coming. To Isabel of Vergas 20l. To my ghostly father [her confessor] his wages for the year coming. That ornaments be made of my gowns for the convent where I shall be [buried] and the furs of the same I give to my daughter.»

Possibly the collar of gold

which Katherine of Aragon brought out of Spain with her

and left to her daughter Mary


The fact that it could be the same collar is supported by the fact that it is known that she had to sell off much of her own jewellery to support herself in her widowhood after the death of her husband, the eldest son of Henry VII, Arthur.

Henry VII was not kind to her after she was widowed.

He had little use for the Spanish princess who lived when his own son died.)

However, I cannot recall any instances, apart from this one, which I believe to be posthumous and reconstructed years down the line, of seeing Anne Boleyn wear the same jewellery as Katherine of Aragon.

Reading the inventory of Anne Boleyn's jewellery, it would appear as if most if not all of it was re-set. «Certen jewelles of the Kinges highnes which be trussed and inclosed within a faire deske of wodde, maser colour." B. M. A descriptive list of 27 items of gold chains, 7 items of gold "carkants," 9 elaborate gold broaches, 2 bracelets, 27 rings set with diamonds (several with the letters H. I., (fn. n22) two with H. A., (fn. n23) and one with the word MOSTE engraved on them), 15 with rubies, 7 with turquoises, 5 with emeralds, 2 with sapphires, and 1 "like a signet with a rose graven in it." Pp. 8. Cott. Appx. xxviii. 31. B. M. 2. "Certen riche jewelles of the Kynges highnes." Jewels in 10 different boxes. Some having the letters H. A. upon them and one (a broach) having the letters R. A. in diamonds.»

By the contents of her jewellery chest, it seems as if Anne Boleyn preferred to have everything made over for her anew, rather than wearing Katherine of Aragon's jewellery as they were, as all of the discernible items in her jewellery chest are rather personalised jewellery that can be connected to Anne Boleyn's own name, her person or her relationship with Henry.

From the Whitehall Mural, we can see that Jane Seymour was so far from being uncomfortable with the idea of wearing her predecessor's belongings that she appears to be wearing Anne Boleyn's gable hood.


Anne Boleyn – The Nidd Hall Portrait

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It would indeed appear that Jane Seymour was less squeamish about wearing the possessions of her predecessor as they were left her. 



In addition to the headdress and necklace, she could very well have obtained the cross the same way, wearing the cross looking precisely as it had done when her predecessor had worn it, without having the jewels re-set.

One thing that does perhaps speak for it being Katherine of Aragon's cross is that her daughter, Mary, can be seen wearing it in two portraits from a year after she became queen. One is Mary I (1516–1558), Queen of England and Ireland by Hans Eworth, shown further up on this page and today at Burlington House. The other one is the portrait below, Queen Mary I, also by Hans Eworth, purchased by the National Gallery in 1972 with the help of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton:

Queen Mary I by Hans Eworth, 1554

Queen Mary I


Hans Eworth

National Portrait Gallery | NPG 4861


The only thing I can find to suggest that the cross originated with Anne, is if it were a play on names. Anne famously loved jewellery that incorporated her initials. This type of cross is also called a St. Anthony's cross. St. Anthony – Anne. That is such a feeble suggestion, however, that I am ashamed to make it.

However, the fact that Mary is wearing the cross does not necessarily negate the idea that it originally originated with Anne Boleyn. I do not know how much contact Mary actually had with her step-mother after Anne became Queen. It is quite possible that Mary never actually saw Anne with this cross, and instead associated it with Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr, two step-mothers who were kind to her.

It is entirely possible Mary that simply thought of it as a «Queen's cross», after having seen it around the throat of many successive Queens of England.

From the later portraits of her, it does not appear as if Anne was fond of ostentatious jewellery.

It has often been bemoaned that none of the existing portraits of Anne are contemporary.

However, perhaps in one sense, that has allowed Anne to appear as people remembered her, not as she wished to appear?

What people remembered, were clearly her dark hair, French hoods, personalised jewellery and her elegance.

Anne Boleyn – NPG 668, 16th century

Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle, Kent, 16th century

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Anne Boleyn, Loseley House, 18th century

Anne Boleyn by John Hoskins, 17th century, painted after “an ancient original”

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Anne Boleyn by Lucas Cornelli, c.1600

In the portraits we have of Katherine of Aragon dressing opulently, I cannot recognise any of her jewellery from portraits of Anne Boleyn, with the possible exception of the pearls. Lots of ladies at court had pearls, however, and these do look somewhat more dominating than the ones worn by Anne. That could be the technique of the painter, however.

Katherine of Aragon – NPG L246

Katherine of Aragon – NPG 163

Katherine of Aragon

Early 18th century

National Portrait Gallery | NPG 163


«This portrait of Katherine is a version of a widely-circulated likeness that depicts the queen circa 1530 (a similar version is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston). Technical analysis has revealed that this portrait is not contemporary with the sitter and instead dates from the early eighteenth century, demonstrating a market for Tudor portraits during this period. 'Prussian blue', a pigment invented between 1704 and 1710 and only commercially available on a wide scale from the 1720s, was found to be present in the paint used for the background, the jewel of Katherine's headdress and in the sprig of foliage that she holds in her hand.»

Katherine of Aragon by Joannes Corvus

Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)


Attributed to 16th century English School

Royal Collection | RCIN 404746


«This is a version of a standard type of portrait of Katherine of Aragon which probably derives from an original portrait type associated with the artist Johannes Corvus (c. 1510-20). Other versions are in the National Portrait Gallery London, Merton College Oxford and at Petworth.»

Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)


17th century English School

Philip Mould


«This small portrait of Henry VIII's first wife was presumably painted towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign to complete a set of Kings and Queens of England hanging in a patron's long gallery or library.»

Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)


16th century English School

Philip Mould


«This bright and boldly painted image derives from the best known easel portrait of Katherine, that attributed to Jan Corvus, or Jan Rav (d. c.1544) now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This example, most probably painted in the 1560s (according to a dendrochronoligical analysis of the oak panel) would have formed part of a series of ‘corridor portraits’ in an important English house. In this case, given the inscription identifying Katherine as the wife of Henry VIII (as opposed to the mother of Queen Mary I), it was almost certainly commissioned as part of a set of Henry’s six wives.»

Katherine of Aragon by Wenceslaus Hollar, 1652

Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536)

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77), signed and dated 1652

Royal Collection | RCIN 421499


«Hollar must have copied her portrait from one of the miniatures of the queen attributed to Lucas Horenbout, such as the example now in the Buccleuch collection.» 

The c.1502 Michael Sittow painting, which exists in at least two versions, could also fall under the category of Katherine of Aragon dressing 'opulently'. She is pictured wearing a heavy gold collar.

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However, this is possibly the collar of gold that Katherine of Aragon bequeathed to her daughter Mary in her will. It would thus never have been in Anne Boleyn's possession and would thus not be expected to be found on any portraits of her.

Actually, it would appear that Henry VIII kept the meagre belongings that were still to give for the woman who had been a daughter of kings, a Queen Consort, and his own beloved wife for 20 years. I would like to think well enough of Anne Boleyn that she still wouldn't have touched it. She grew markedly kinder towards Mary after her mother's death.

In any case, it is a moot point, as Anne Boleyn is not pictured wearing it in any portrait that I have seen.

Only the first and the last

After having written the above, however, I came across this portrait of Anne Boleyn:


Anne Boleyn

Chateau de Beauregard[]


«French portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn. A version of Anne's official portrait, which has been lost/destroyed. It might even have been painted by Holbein. The best known variation is the Elizabethan portrait in London's National Portrait Gallery.»

The heart-shaped brooch she is wearing does look like the one Katherine of Aragon is wearing in her Joannes Corvus-painting. Knowing nothing of the provenance of the painting however, it is impossible to know whether this was an element of the original portrait.

It appears to have been one of the many copies made from the NPG 668 – Hever Castle – John Hoskins miniature pattern.

With the benefit of having looked at many portraits since starting this site, I am instead inclined to believed that the copyists have «borrowed» the brooch from a portrait of Katherine of Aragon and given it to Anne Boleyn in an effort to spruce up her outfit. This can be seen in many copies from the workshops that were created to cover the demand for pictures. This is of course very evident in cases where we have both the original portraits and the copies and can compare.

Tellingly, the Anne Boleyn miniature by John Hoskins from the 17th century, painted after «an ancient original» does not feature the heart-shaped brooch.

From the Nidd Hall portrait and the Moost Happi medal it is clear that Anne dressed according to her status once she became Queen, however. It is one of life's little ironies that most seem to think that the simpler fashions of her youth were far more elegant and striking.

This seems to be true today, and even seems to have been true in Elizabethan times, as it was those portraits that gained popularity.

Amusingly, the Anne Boleyn-with-a-heart-shaped-brooch concept appears to be a particular French tradition:

Anne Boleyn


19th century(?)

Ruby Lane


«Miniature French painting of Queen Anne Boleyn. I like this because it shows more of how she looked.»

At first I thought this was one of the many portraits produced ostensibly of Lady Jane Grey, but actually based on a portrait of Katherine Parr, but the text makes it clear that this is Anne Boleyn.

Lucas Horenbout

So, if our working hypothesis is that this particular miniature of Katherine of Aragon and the corresponding one of Henry VIII were in fact not painted in their lifetimes by Lucas Horenbout, but posthumously, in the reign of Mary I Tudor by Levina Teerlinc, then which miniatures are actually the work of Lucas Horenbout?

Anne Boleyn – Katherine Parr – Katherine of Aragon

I have never been fond of the miniature in the middle and have always dismissed it out of hand as a depiction of Katherine Parr. The same way fans of Anne Boleyn reject the first miniature as a representation of her.

However, put the three miniatures together and a pretty clear picture emerges:

Anne Boleyn – Katherine Parr – Katherine of Aragon.

Three Queens of England.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Mary I Tudor when a Princess

There is something almost dream-like about these miniatures, as if one is looking at them through a mist, or a foggy glass. They look like watercolours which have been left out in the rain.

I am fairly sure that these five miniatures are all by the same hand.

The technique and workmanship all appears to be the same. 

Henry VIII by Lucas Horenbout/bolte – Miniature in the Louvre

Henry VIII, King of England

Lucas Horenbout, School of the old Netherlands

Musée du Louvre, Paris | RF 44315


This one doesn't look like a watercolour that has been left out in the rain in the slightest, nevertheless it is the work of Lucas Horenbout/bolte.

«Portrait miniatures such as this were initially developed to meet the demand for portable, dynastic images to serve as prized diplomatic gifts. A miniature of Henry VIII and one of his daughters, Princess Mary, was given to Francis I, King of France, in exchange for two miniatures of Francis I’s sons, which were sent to Henry VIII in the autumn of 1526.» The Royal Collection

Miniature of Henry VIII from Letters Patent for Thomas Foster , probably painted by Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte). Photograph by AndrewRT. National Art Library in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, bought with the assistance of the Friends of the National Libraries, National Art Library no. MSL/1999/6 (https://www.britannica.com/art/miniature-painting)

My suggestion is that these two miniatures were in fact painted by Lucas Horenbout or by somebody in his workshop. 

The second one is technically not a miniature in our understanding of the word. It is not a loose portrait set in a locket.

The portrait miniature of Henry VIII from letters patent for Thomas Foster is one in which the King's image has been used to illustrate the letter 'H', the way we today might have seen it in a children's ABC book, with an 'S' taking the form a snake, for instance.

Lucas Horenbout was trained in the final phase of Netherlandish illuminated manuscript painting, in which his father Gerard was an important figure. (Lucas Horenbout – Alchetron)

Miniatures were first painted to decorate and illustrate hand-written books. Indeed, the word 'miniature' comes from the Latin word 'miniare'. This means 'to colour with red lead', a practice that was used for the capital letters. (Victoria and Albert Museum – A History of the Portrait Miniature)

It therefore makes perfect sense that the first of these miniatures, the miniature of Henry VIII from letters patent for Thomas Foster

'From the 1460s hand-written books had to compete with printed books. At the same time, however, wealthy patrons demanded a wider range of luxury goods. Miniaturists such as Simon Bening continued to illustrate expensive books, but also offered patrons independent miniatures. Some were for private worship, others simply desirable objects.' (http://web.archive.org/web/20160108000245/http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/a-history-of-the-portrait-miniature/)


Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Attributed to Lucas Horenbout (c.1490/5-1544)

Royal Collection | RCIN 420010


Provenance: Theophilus Howard, second Earl of Suffolk; by whom presented to Charles I, by c.1639; Charles II

These two, on the other hand, I believe to be posthumous copies by Levina Teerlinc, based on an original by Lucas Horenbout/bolte.

Henry VIII – The Buccleuch Collection


I believe also this one, in the Buccleuch Collection, to be a copy.

The reference portrait for the miniature in the Royal Collection in which Henry VIII is wearing a beard, is easy enough to suss out. That is obviously the one now in the Louvre and the miniature of Henry VIII from letters patent for Thomas Foster.

But which is the reference portrait for the ones of Henry VIII without a beard? Well, one possibility is this one.

Henry VIII

Watercolour on vellum | 2 ⅛ in. x 1 7⁄8 in.[]

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge | PD.19-1949


This is the one I keep going back and forth with.

This miniature, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, was in the Strawberry Hill Collection of Horace Walpole since at least c.1815, when George Perfect Harding (c.1780–1853) made a copy of it now in the Royal Collection.

If we are working with the theory that the above miniatures of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon in fact were posthumous productions by Levina Teerlinc, but historically we know that the miniature sent to France and the manuscript miniature were by Lucas Horenbout, then which one of them painted this?

Was it another posthumous portrait created for Mary I Tudor by Levina Teerlinc?

Or was it in fact drawn from life by Lucas Horenbout, and served perhaps as a reference painting for the miniatures in the Buccleuch Collection and the Royal Collection, to which it bears great resemblance?

The Frame Blog writes: «As portraiture gained more autonomy, miniatures emerged from the pages of manuscripts to become independent portraits. This depiction of Henry VIII is again an early example, also by Lucas Hornebolt, who served as the king’s portraitist from 1525. It demonstrates the transition from MS decoration (as in the rather later portrait on the letters patent, above) to a portrait which might be worn like a jewel and given as a favour. In this case, the painting has its own integral frame, with gilded angels in the spandrels who spin gold lines entwining the initials of Henry and Katherine of Aragon. This personal, domestic detail may suggest that this is not a gift of state, like those of Elizabeth I, below».

I completely agree that this was a transitional piece between manuscript illustration and what we would regard as the traditional miniature. And Lucas Horenbout was a trained manuscript illuminator. However, so was Levina Teerlinc.

«An emblem favored by Henry VIII was his initial woven with his queen's in a "love knot" pattern. Below is an example of the HK Henry wore on his armor until he ended his marriage to Katharine of Aragon.

Those initials could be found everywhere: on Henry's armor, on the walls of his palaces, public buildings, on his personal possessions, stamped on the covers of books, and painted on furniture. Because Henry's reign was one of unprecedented royal construction, his initials - and those of his current queen - ended up adorning a multitude of structures.

When Anne became queen, she and Henry embarked on a concerted effort to replace all of the HKs, pomegranates, and Katharine's arms with Anne's symbols.»

Henry VIII's Armour with the HK Love Knot

(Photo by lizzybeans11 CC License)

After reading this on Under These Restless Skies – Erasing Anne Boleyn From History: The Badges and Emblems and seing this picture, I was almost convinced that the miniature was painted by Lucas Horenbout, during Henry VIII's marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

However, according to the photographer who took the picture, this armour was constructed in 1540 and made in Greenwich, London for one of the last tournaments that Henry VIII was known to have organised.

In other words, when Henry VIII was married to Katherine Howard, not Katherine of Aragon. Before his death, he would of course marry yet another woman named Katherine, Katherine Parr.

Now, I am of course not suggesting that the miniature dates from his marriage to any of them. The age of the King is clearly given, 35, and whether it is given in years he is of age or the year he is currently in as they were given to in Tudor times, at 34–35, Henry VIII was married to Katherine of Aragon.

No, the fact that the HK monogram on the armour, which bears a close resemblance to the HK monogram on the miniature, is either a later design or the same that was employed for Katherine of Aragon, makes me less inclined to believe that miniature was actually created during that time and more inclined to believe that it was recreated at a later chance.

So, who had a vested interest in making Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon look all lovey-dovey?

I can honestly think of only one.

The Group of Miniatures of Henry VIII

The Royal Collection mentions that their miniatures of Henry VIII are two of a group of seven miniatures.

The Louvre heightens this number to eight and identifies the other seven as «London, Sotheby's, July 11, 1983, No. 25; Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, PD 19-1949; HM The Queen, The Royal Collection; Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry KT; V. de S. Collection, The Netherlands; Private Collection».

According to Alison Weir, «The first identifiable English work by one of them, Lucas Horenbout, is the King's portrait in an initial letter on a patent dated 28 April 1524 (sold at Sotheby's in 1983 and now in a private collection)».

So it would be appear as if the one sold at Sotheby's in 1983 is identical to the miniature of Henry VIII from letters patent for Thomas Foster and is pictured here.

Which means that we have traced down six of these eight miniatures, and the ones that we are lacking are the one in the Collection V. de S. in Vorden, The Netherlands, a private collection, and one in yet another private collection.

Without getting a look on these (bearing also in mind that the reference portrait may be lost today) it is simply impossible to say if the Fitzwilliam miniature of Henry VIII is by Horenbout or created by Levina Teerlinc on the orders of Mary I Tudor.

The V. de S. Collection, The Netherlands, is the one that the miniature of Margaret Beaufort belongs to[][], so it is clearly sometimes open to researchers. We must hope that one day a picture of this miniature will be published. 

EDITED TO ADD 29.01.2021

Technical analysis has now shown that the miniature of Henry VIII now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.19-1949) and the Yale Miniature were painted by the same person.

Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature, article by Polly Saltmarsh

I therefore add the miniature of Henry VIII now in the Fitzwilliam Museum to the ouevre of Levina Teerlink.

This is also very exciting, because while we before only had the hand lettering, now we actually have a technical analysis that links the miniatures of a lady with the 'emaciated thinness of the arms' with the miniatures of Henry VIII. I consider this a considerable strengthening of my theory.

The Miniature of Katherine of Aragon with a Monkey in the Buccleuch Collection

Quite by chance I came over the picture below Somewhere on the Internet™

Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon – Buccleuch Collection

If this photograph so dilligently found and uploaded by Kiki is genuine, the miniature of Katherine of Aragon with her pet monkey has since got a new frame. This is how the miniature is framed today:

Katherine of Aragon with a Marmoset

Katherine of Aragon


Lucas Hornebolte

Buccleuch Collection

It would also mean that at once point the two miniatures had matching frames, and were in the same collection, and, most importantly, are of the same size.

A little research made it clear that it is in fact a well-known fact that the two once were in the same collection, the Buccleuch Collection, where the miniature of Katherine of Aragon with her pet monkey still resides.

In fact, the photograph appears to be from the book Henry VIII by Albert Frederic Pollard (1869–1948), published in 1902, and can be found here.

According to The Frame Blog, speaking of the miniature of Henry VIII now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, «The outer enamelled frame is currently under examination, to see whether it is contemporary or a later addition.» However, another miniature, a copy of the famous portrait of Lady Guildford, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which copy is dated circa 19th century, has the same frame. The frames probably date from when all three miniatures were in the same collection. At least two of them were in the Magniac Collection, the miniature of Henry VIII now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the miniature copy of the famous portrait of Lady Guildford (then called Katherine of Aragon).[][][]

The fact that we can then be reliably sure that this photograph is genuine, and that the miniatures are of an equal size and shape, opens up for the possibility that these two, the miniature of Henry VIII now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.19-1949) and the miniature of Katherine of Aragin with her pet monkey in the Buccleuch Collection, were also created as a set.

By Levina Teerlinc, on the orders of her employer, Queen Mary I Tudor, who never got over what happened to her little family, some time during her reign of 1553–1558.

Katherine of Aragon by Lucas Hornebolte, c.1525-26 - Katherine of Aragon Attributed to Lucas Horenbout; NPG L244

Portrait of Queen Katharine of Aragon


16th century English School 

Philip Mould



«Recent dendrochronological dating has concluded that an earliest felling date of 1531 is likely for the production of the panel on which this portrait is painted. Such analysis is based on the measurement of a tree’s growth rings in the panel, and comparison with climate records and other known and dated examples. The analysis of this panel found that the latest, or ‘oldest’, growth ring surviving is that for 1523. More precise dating is then achieved by adding a minimum number of growth rings that may have been lost in the process of manufacture, typically eight rings, or eight years. Such a small amount of wood lost in the process is not untypical, since great care was taken to prevent unnecessary waste. Thus in this case eight years have been added to 1523 to arrive at 1531.

This panel, however, is unusual in that it is made of two boards joined at a skewed angle, and not a straight vertical line as normal. Furthermore, the grain runs at a further skewed angle within the boards, meaning that more – or perhaps less – growth rings could be present. However, the relatively crude manner in which this board is constructed suggests that it was made during the earliest period of manufacture of large artist’s panels in England, not to mention the artistic style and technique of the painting itself. Furthermore, in the absence of any similar dendrochronological analysis for the two other best-known panel portraits of Katherine of Aragon (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and National Portrait Gallery, London) this example could well be the earliest currently known easel portrait of Katherine, and the only example plausibly datable to her lifetime.

The significance of such an icon produced during the 1530s is apparent. In the midst of her divorce from the King, Katherine and her party may well have been concerned with making sure that her face continued to be seen at home and abroad as part of the concerted programme to maintain her status as Queen. There would, therefore, have been considerable incentive for producing a portrait that repeated a younger, beautiful likeness of the Queen as well as conveying, perhaps, an intelligible iconographic message to her adherents.

The portrait derives directly from a miniature painted c.1525 by Lucas Horenbout d.1544 (Duke of Buccleuch Collection), which again shows Katherine holding a monkey, but makes subtle alterations to the iconography. The monkey is being offered a coin, which he ignores, reaching out instead for the jeweled crucifix that the Queen wears at her breast. The interpretation here is plain: Katherine’s creature expresses his obedience to the church by recognizing that the cross is more precious than money. The fact that these elements are absent from the Buccluech miniature, in which the monkey is merely being offered a tit-bit, and the gesture of its outstretched hand is empty, shows that the portrait’s iconography was deliberately reconfigured to comment on the Queen’s situation in the years c.1527 – 1530 and to make a point of her Catholic orthodoxy. It has even been suggested that the species of the monkey, a marmoset, may be an allusion to the straits of Katherine and her party at that date, since the letters are a near-anagram of the name Thomas More, the most celebrated of Katherine’s supporters and later a martyr for her cause. This is not too-far fetched, since the Tudor audience was schooled in allegory, the essential pabulum of their art. The apparent frivolity of the subject – a court lady playing with her pet monkey – would have delighted them all the more if it was susceptible to a deeper, parallel reading that touched on what was to become the King’s Great Matter. Far more than a flattering likeness of a Queen who felt herself spurned in place of a younger rival, the portrait can also be read as a calculated piece of propaganda and a move in a game being played for the very highest stakes.

Comparison with other known portraits of Katherine again shows the importance of the present example. The exaggerated, angular features of that in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 163) and its derivatives are clearly a schematized derivation of the pleasanter face in the present painting, which relates so closely to the Buccleuch miniature, traditionally and legitimately considered an ad vivum likeness. The later portraits, described, as with the example in the MFA Boston as ‘mechanical and workshop in quality’ suggest little of the woman who in 1531 was described as ‘if not handsome she is not ugly; she is somewhat stout and always has a smile on her face.’

The authorship of the present panel painting is not known. Its close relation to the Horenbout miniature might suggest some connection to the Horenbout workshop, and the old attribution recorded on the verso of the old frame may have some validity. Too little is currently known, however, of the portrait practice of Anglo-Flemish artists’ workshops in the period before the arrival of Hans Holbein the younger for one to be able to pronounce with any certainty. It is worth remembering that the years up to c.1530 represent the very infancy of easel painting in England: royal portraits datable to this period are scarce, and those of non-royal sitters effectively non-existent.»

Philip Mould very modestly assume that they have got hold of a copy here.

I am instead wondering if they did not get a hold of the original.

If you were to photoshop NPG L244 and the portrait once with Philip Mould together you would pretty much have the miniature in the Buccleuch collection.

Furthermore, there are some strange inconsistencies with the miniature. Much has been made of the little monkey reaching for the cross rather than the coin (religion over filthy lucre) both by Philip Mould as quoted above, and in another excellent article at Art History News.

And yet, would not the simplest explanation be that the monkey is reaching for something glittering and shiny, such as a cross, in the manner of small playful animals and toddlers?

Oh, I do not doubt the symbolism noted by both Philip Mould and the author of the article at Art History News.

Of course the painting formerly with Philip Mould is somewhat stylized. The monkey holding the flowers, for example. And yet, the monkey in the miniature in the Buccleuch Collection appears to be reaching for something, but there is nothing there. Similarly, its tiny fist is clenched as if it is holding flowers, though of course there are no flowers there.

Philip Mould is suggesting that the portrait formerly with them was a symbolic version of a realistic picture.

I am suggesting that it was the other way around: That the miniature in the Buccleuch Collection was a realistic version of a symbolic picture.

Of course, the last thing Mary I Tudor would have been wanted to be reminded of when trying to recreate the happy days of the past was the King's Great Matter.

And we do know that Mary I Tudor both tried to recreate the past (her Spanish marriage, she originally tried to marry Charles V, her mother's nephew and her original fiancé from when she was a girl), and in a sense rewrite it, or 'put things to right', having her parents' marriage declared valid again etc.

So instead of a monkey rejecting a coin (and wordly goods) we have a monkey curiously disinterested in a treat.

There are two more curious elements to this miniature, the last one perhaps the most so.

The first of these two last curious elements is that in the miniature of Katherine of Aragon with the monkey, one fall of her English gable hood is pinned up. This does not seem at all accurate for the mid-1520's. It is perfectly seemingly in style for 1531, though, as a transitory phase between the English gable hoods of the 1520's where both falls were hanging down to the pinned up version of the English gable hood from about 1533 as can be seen on Anne and Mary Boleyn and Jane Seymour.

Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536), Queen of England, 1530c. Picture by Christie's

Frances de Vere, Countess of Surrey in a gable hood from c.1532-3 with one fall pinned up

«[F]or a period in the 1530s some fashionable women at court chose to pin up one long black side lappet, with the other hanging down to the shoulder» (In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion by Anna Reynolds, p. 65)

It makes no sense for a miniature genuinely from c.1525 to display a fashion that only came to be over five years later. It does however make perfect sense for a miniature recreated by someone in 1550's who was unfamiliar with the English fashions of the time and working from different paintings of the same person from different times to accidentally copy something historically incorrect into a picture supposedly of that person in the mid-1520's before the marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon imploded and Queen Mary I Tudor still had her happy family.

Katherine of Aragon with a Marmoset (detail)

The second of these two last curious elements, and for which I can find no explanation, is that if you look at the close-up of the miniature of Katherine of Aragon with the monkey, it looks like in the upper part of the blackwork embroidery on her shirt that the stitches go directly into her throat. There is no cloth there to support it.

This gives the creepy effect that it looks as if her head has been sewed back on.

Ironically, Katherine of Aragon was not one of the two wives Henry VIII had beheaded.

«This is a particularly striking instance of Hornebolte's style with characteristic bold modelling of the features and pouting scarlet lips.» Artists of the Tudor Court: The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620 by Roy Strong (1983), p. 37. Kimiko

But what if the style that we have all come to think about as typical Hornebolte was in fact ... somebody completely different?

Katherine of Aragon with a Marmoset (detail)

Katherine of Aragon – NPG L244 (detail)

Because the only explanation I can think of is that the 'bust portion' was lifted wholesale from NPG L244. If you look at it, the bows are same. And that whoever did the lifting could not figure out what the outer layer of decoration of the neckline was.

Admittedly, it has actually given me some pause as well. I might be the only one, but I could not immediately make out what it was. After having looked at NPG L244 many, many times, I am now convinced that it is a ribbon or some sort of piece of cloth dyed blue and threaded with pearls or some other kind of white beads.

The Buccleuch Miniature (detail)

The Royal Ontario Miniature (detail)

I did actually notice a fourth difference between the Buccleuch miniature and the Royal Ontario miniature.

If you look at the lady in the Buccleuch miniature it looks as if she has some sort of sheer fabric going from her shoulders to underneath her neckline.

The lady in the Royal Ontario miniature does not have any such sheer fabric in her neckline.

It has puzzled exceedingly why someone would remove this seemingly innocuous detail.

The fifth difference between the miniatures is change of pattern of the silver chain of the outer necklace of the lady.

I think in the 1520's in England it was the fashion to have a simple silver chain or string of beads hanging loosely from or around the neck and then loosely, often in addition to another, fancier necklace.

If you look at the members of Sir Thomas More's family, nearly all of the ladies sport this fashion.

Sir Thomas More and His Family (after Hans Holbein the younger) by Rowland Lockey, 1592 after original from 1527

If I am right in that the Royal Ontario miniature is a copy of the Buccleuch miniature created early in Elizabeth's reign, it stands to reason that Levina Teerlinc would not have been familiar with English fashion of the mid-1520's. Levina Teerlinc only arrived in England in the 1540's. By this time this fashion appears to have passed.

In the 1540's and 1550's blackwork was all the rage, and according to J. Stephan Edwards's assessment of Lady Jane Grey’s Bracelet? silver was not at all the preferred precious metal of the jewellery of the noble class of the 1550's.

It would therefore have made a great deal of sense for one who was unfamiliar with the English fashion of the mid-1520's, but familiar with the English fashion of the 1540's and 1550's to assume that what was actually a silver chain to be blackwork embroidery on a partlet so sheer that it was to be undetectable in a miniature.

Sheer partlets also became fashionable in England in the 1540's, so a foreigner arriving just then would have been very familiar with them.

When recreating the miniature it might have made a great deal of sense to such a person to remove the two scraps of sheer fabric, not understanding the need for two partlets, and perhaps thinking that the scraps ending before the blackwork embroidery began gave the creepy effect of the stitces going right into the skin, as we can see above with the miniature of Katherine of Aragaon.

Anne More (née Cresacre) Wife of John More, son of Sir Thomas More

The preparatory sketch of Anne Cresacre by Hans Holbein the Younger for the More Family Portrait makes it clear that is in fact a necklace of some kind she is wearing around her neck, because there is a pendant hanging from it.

It does look like a silver chain to me, but it could also be a ribbon of some sort, perhaps even a fancy one, with blackwork embroidery.

Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon

When the portrait above was correctly re-identified as Katherine of Aragon, much a ado was made of

«This portrait is paired with a painting of Henry VIII following the recent re-identification of the portrait of Katherine of Aragon. While they did not originally form a pair, they are of a comparable date and scale, and share a similar green damask background. Both are likely to be examples of portrait types of the king and queen that would have been produced in multiple versions, some of which would have been paired in this way.» The Royal Collection

Levina Teerlinc

But what differentiates the style of the copyist from the style of Horenbout/bolte?

I now see that I have assigned all of the miniatures with inscriptions to Levina Teerlinc, and all of the miniatures without inscription to Lucas Horenbout. This is actually quite incidental.

I do not actually doubt that the originals, the reference portraits of these 8 miniatures were painted when the King was 34 or 35 years old. I assumed that since Levina Teerlinc copied the motives of the miniatures, she could just as easily have copied the lettering from one miniature and then used it as a «blueprint», if you will, for all the others if noting the age of the subject proved popular among her patrons.

I naturally assumed that miniature now in the Louvre was the one sent to the French court by Henry VIII, the same way I assume that the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in the same Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci and brought by him to France, and not something they picked up at yardsale at some point when the mood struck them. However, it would appear that it was purchased by the Louvre in 1994 from a private collection. (The miniature, not the Mona Lisa, lol)

The assumption that this was the miniature sent to the French court by Henry VIII in 1527, was the basis for assigning it to Horenbout, not the lack of an inscription. I still think that this is a natural assumption to make, however, and will hold on to it for now.

Looking over the miniatures now, however, I realise that it is entirely possible that the handwriting is actually Levina Teerlinc's own, and that all of the miniatures carrying this handwriting consequently belong to her.

That would mean that the Fitzwilliam miniature is her work.

At present, however, I do not feel that I have enough information to conclude with anything definitely.

I have previously mentioned Lisby1's quite frankly brilliant observation about the emaciated thinness of the arms as common to the miniatures ascribed to Levina Teerlinc.

I did not notice that either.

No, what struck me was two specific things: 

The way she drew fur.

And how much more detailed the pattern of clothing was in the copies, as opposed to the originals.

That is to say, these began as two completely different observations. The first one I made when looking at a miniature of Lady Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, the sister of Lady Jane Grey.

This one is, quite correctly, attributed to Levinca Teerlinc today. She has, again, quite rightly, the thin, emaciated arms noted by Lisby1.

At the time, however, I paid this no heed. No, what impressed me was the artist's amazing ability to draw fur. Anyone who has ever tried to draw a dog, or really, any animal at all, know that a blob with the right colour is usually the best result one may hope fur [sic].

I had never seen an artist manage to create such a realistic fur-like effect before.

Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford (1540-1568)


Levina Teerlinc

Victoria and Albert Museum | VAM P.10&A-1979



Looking at this miniature of Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, you perhaps realise why I had not connected the handwriting on the earlier miniatures to Levina Teerlink specifically. None of her later miniatures seem to display it.

Upon realising that the inscriptions may have been originally hers, I have been wracking my brain for a possible explanation for why she might have ceased adding them to her work.

The only thing that occurred to me was the rising prominence of François Clouet. He was born as early as 1510, but to the best of my abilities, I cannot find that any of his more prominent work was painted any earlier than the late 1550's. He then remained very active until his death in 1572. 

He painted a very fine miniature of Henry II of France, but perhaps some of his most iconic work were the miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots, now in the Royal Collection, and one of Catherine de' Medici.

Henry II of France by François Clouet, 1559

Catherine de' Medici by François Clouet, before she was widowed in 1559

Mary, Queen of Scots by François Clouet, c.1558

Both of these two were painted on the a backround of royal blue, as had been the tradition in England from Horenbout to Holbein and Levina Teerlinc herself. Clouet's miniatures, however, do not bear inscriptions of any kind. It is possible that the art of miniature painting was as susceptible to what was fashionable as is everything else.

The presence of a miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots in the personal collection of Queen Elizabeth I in 1564 as noted by the Royal Collection shows that the English court was familiar with his work.

The miniature of Catherine de' Medici was painted «before she was widowed in 1559, when she adopted the veil and severely plain dress of a widow.»[] The miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots, was painted by 1564, and the sketch on which it is based or at least bears a great resemblance to it dates from around 1555. If we are right, that does seem to fit with when Levina Teerlinc abandoned her inscriptions.

In the reign of Mary, culture had very much been oriented towards Spain, naturally enough, as Mary's mother had been from there, and it was a connection she treasured, so much that she chose her husband from there. But Elizabeth's reign, especially as the 1550's turned into the 1560's, became more oriented towards France again, culturally and fashionably.

Of course, everybody must decide for themselves if they find this plausible. All I have done is try to reconcile two facts that are indubitably true, yet it is seemingly impossible that they are so at the same time.

Once I relegated the ones who have other known versions of them and have the tell-tale signs of this other artist to copies it all fell into place.

The second was how much more incredibly detailed the copies were from the originals.

It is my belief that the originals are the ones to the left, and the copies are the ones to the right. We have already gone over the lady's jewellery and the addition of it.

But what first struck me was the pattern of the clothing.

It belatedly occurrs to me that this must be what Roland Hui meant when he termed the lady with the inscription the finer miniature of the two. At the time I was so preoccupied with her features and general expression.

And he is quite right in that one can often see a degeneration with each subsequent copy of an artwork.

However, there are examples of copyists embellishing upon the original work of art as well. This can often be seen on engravings, where jewellery and the like is added, undoubtedly to create a more striking image.

Henry VIII - Miniature in the Louvre

'Portrait miniatures first appeared in the 1520s, at the French and English courts. Like medals, they were portable, but they also had realistic colour. The earliest examples were painted by two Netherlandish miniaturists, Jean Clouet working in France and Lucas Horenbout in England.

Miniatures were particularly useful to the monarchy. They were small enough to be given personally, sometimes in a public ceremony, as a sign of the monarch's favour. But since a miniature could be presented unframed, the person receiving it often had the expense of providing a suitable locket.'


However, were all of these drawn by the same hand?

It from the first occurred to me that it was peculiar that so many of the miniatures were to be found in England. The earliest miniatures were supposedly gifts for other monarchs, and yet so many can be found on the homely soil. 

And why is every single one of the miniatures (all the ones where age is indicated, anyway) painted in the King's 35th year or when he had turned 35?

The beautiful drawn detailed pattern on Henry VIII's shirt.

Levina Teerlinc – The Great Pretender.

King Henry VIII - The Buccleuch Miniature

Henry VIII - The Royal Collection RCIN 420640

Henry VIII - The Royal Collection RCIN 420010

The de Wet Miniature


The Sudeley Miniature


The Yale Miniature

The Royal Ontario Miniature

Henry VIII – Three versions of the same miniature – Miniature of Henry VIII from Letters Patent for Thomas Foster – Louvre Miniature of Henry VIII – One of the Royal Collection's Miniature of Henry VIII (RCIN 420640)

Henry VIII - Two versions of the same miniature

Henry VIII - Three versions of the same miniature

Three miniatures of Henry VIII with an inverted N - A miniature of Henry c.1526, painted by Lucas Horenbout. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (http://tudorhistory.org/henry8/gallery.html)

Of course, of these four monarchs, Henry VIII's children were not the only ones who had been orphaned early.

Henry VIII himself had lost both his parents early, his mother as a young boy, his father as a young man.

His early education was supervised by his paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort. 

In an effort to test my theory, I immediately set out to see if I could find posthumous miniatures of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII's parents. However, I was out of luck.

There does exist a posthumous miniature of Henry VII, but this miniature, and three others, are by Nicholas 'Hilliard, date from around 1600 and were part of the 'Bosworth Jewel', which commemorated the start of Tudor rule after Henry VII's victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The four portraits show Henry VIII's father, Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty; Henry VIII himself; Queen Jane Seymour; and their son Edward, later Edward VI. The Jewel was intended to show the continuation of the dynasty through Henry VIII to Prince Edward. It was presented to Charles I by Nicholas Hilliard's son.'


Posthumous miniature of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, Henry VIII's grandmother

There does however exist a posthumous miniature of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, Henry VIII's grandmother.

Miniatures were not introduced into England until 1520's and Margaret Beaufort died in 1509, making the miniature posthumous by necessity.

Also, the miniature is inscribed with the identity of the wearer, which was usually only done with posthumous paintings.

Margaret Beaufort was the only one of Henry VIII's grandparents to play an active part in his upbringing. Both of his grandfathers had long passed away by the time of his birth. And his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Dowager, died shortly before his first birthday.

Margaret Beaufort, however, was at court, and very involved in the life and family of her son.

Henry VII, Henry VIII's father, died on the 21st of April 1509, having designated his mother chief executor of his will. She arranged her son's funeral and her grandson's coronation. At her son's funeral she was given precedence over all the other women of the royal family.

The Countess died in the Deanery of Westminster Abbey on 29th of June 1509. This was the day after her grandson's 18th birthday, and just over two months after the death of her son. Her tomb was created by Pietro Torrigiano, who probably arrived in England in 1509 and received the commission in the following year. Erasmus wrote the Latin inscription on her tomb. In English it reads: "Margaret, Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII, grandmother of Henry VIII, who donated funds for three monks of this abbey, a grammar school in Wimborne, a preacher in the whole of England, two lecturers in Scripture, one at Oxford, the other at Cambridge, where she also founded two colleges, one dedicated to Christ, and the other to St John, the Evangelist." In 1539 Henry VIII had iron railings, elaborately painted with coats of arms and other ornaments erected around the tomb.

This speaks of a grandson who held his grandmother in great esteem and whom it is documented as late as 1539 thought of her.

It is therefore likely him, Henry VIII, the reigning monarch who commissioned a miniature with the likeness of Margaret Beaufort from the court painter.

The artist who made the posthumous miniature of Margaret Beaufort must have had a few sources to work off of.

One would have been this portrait, which is held at Cambridge University, a university Margaret generously supported during her lifetime.

Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (1443–1509)

Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443–1509), Countess of Richmond and Derby, Mother of King Henry VII and Foundress of the College

Meynnart Wewyck (active c.1502–1525)

St. John's College, University of Cambridge


Another source would have been her tomb, which was created by Pietro Torrigiano, who probably arrived in England in 1509 and received the commission in the following year.

Blank space

Tomb of Margaret Beaufort in Westminster Abbey

Blank space

The gilded bronze sculpture on the tomb depicts Margaret with her head resting on pillows and her hands raised in prayer, wearing garments characteristic of widowhood; the face was probably sculpted from a death mask.

Yet another source to Margaret's appearance would have been those who knew her, and particularly those who knew her well, like Henry VIII and others.

As we can see, based on the still existing sources, it is quite a good likeness.

King Henry the Eight and Queen Katherine his Wife and Margaret Mother of the Illustrious King Henry VII

If we examine these three miniatures, there are some striking similarities between them. The lettering is similar, they are all three of them inscribed, unusually for the time, and they all appear to be painted by the same hand.

Of course, this is no very controversial statement. It has always been assumed that these were painted by the same hand. 

By necessity we also know that the Margaret Beaufort miniature was posthumous.

What is new is my suggestion that the other two are posthumous too.

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset

We often forget that Henry VIII was also a father who had lost a child.

Of course he had lost many children by Katherine of Aragon, as babies, but he also lost one that was nearly grown.


Well was it for them that Henry Fitzroy his natural son ... was dead, otherwise (some suspect) had he survived King Edward the Sixth, we might presently have heard of a King Henry the Ninth, so great was his father's affection and so unlimited his power to prefer him

—Thomas Fuller

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset (1519–1536)

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset (1519–1536)


Attributed to Lucas Horenbout (c.1490/5–1544)

Watercolour on vellum laid on card (the ace of hearts) | 4.4 cm (Sight) (sight diameter)

Royal Collection | RCIN 420019


«Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset (1519-36), was the illegitimate son of Henry VIII by Elizabeth Blount, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon. The child was officially acknowledged by the King after the early deaths of the three sons born to the Queen. Following his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's attachment to Henry Fitzroy assumed a greater significance, particularly when his second wife also failed to produce a male heir. Appointed Knight of the Garter in 1525 and made Duke of Richmond and Somerset in the same year, Henry Fitzroy was given several important positions, including that of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His education was entrusted to the distinguished classical scholar Richard Croke, who had taught Greek to Henry VIII, and was extended by attendance at the court of Francis I in France for eleven months in 1532. It appears that Henry VIII contemplated making Henry Fitzroy his heir, but whatever the King's intentions may have been, the plan was spoilt by Henry Fitzroy's premature death of tuberculosis at the age of 17. It is possible that this miniature was painted at the time of Fitzroy's marriage in 1534 to Mary Howard, daughter of the third Duke of Norfolk, Treasurer of the Household and Earl Marshal.

The miniature is a typical work by Horenbout, whose style is detectable in the modelling of the features, the prominent shadows under the eyes and mouth, and the form of the inscription seen against a blue background. The sitter is vividly characterised in what is in essence an informal portrait, one of the first in British art, and a significant prototype for what was to prove the keynote of intimacy in the art form of the portrait miniature over successive centuries. The casual clothes, probably a nightcap and chemise, may be associated with his physical frailty.


Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002


Lord George Stuart; by whom given to Charles I(?); Charles II; left Royal Collection c.1700; Horace Walpole; by descent; sale of the contents of Strawberry Hill, George Robins, 17.5.1842 (31); bought for 2nd Duke of Buckingham; Stowe Sale,Christie's, 15.3.1849 (49); Charles Sackville Bale; by whom sold Christie's, 24.5.1881 (1418); bought by Queen Victoria»

Mary I Tudor when a Princess

Queen Mary I


Master John

Oil on panel | 28 in. x 20 in. (711 mm x 508 mm)

National Portrait Gallery | NPG 428


«The painting is inscribed on either side of Mary's head and dated: 'ANNO DNI.1544 LADI MARI DOVGHTER TO THE MOST VERTVOVS PRINCE KINGE HENRI THE EIGHT THE AGE OF XXVIII YERES'. The date of 1544 is entirely consistent with the technique and materials used in the work. The inscription has been confirmed as an original part of the picture.»

Now, as I have said, non-posthumous portraits in this era inscribed with the identity of the sitter is so rare as to be almost non-existent. This is one of the only examples (the only?) I can think of. It must seen in connection with the Third Succession Act, or the Succession to the Crown Act of 1543, that again restored Mary to succession, after having been excluded from it in the first and second succession acts.

It was quite a moment of triumph for Mary, both privately and publicly, after many years of humiliations and an at best rocky relationship with her father.

It is not unnatural that she would want to proclaim that triumph for all the world, or at least for everyone who came in contact with the portrait.


The composition of those two inscriptions, I mean.

Of course, there is nothing terribly revolutionary or strikingly original about the composition of either inscription, but we must remember that miniatures, and even portrait painting itself, was in its infancy in England. The early inscriptions we have looked at, those of the miniatures of Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon and Margaret Beaufort, differ from these quite significantly.

Which makes me wonder if Mary based her inscription on one on an already existing miniature, or if the inscription on the miniature was based on the inscription on the portrait.

Because I believe that also this miniature was posthumous.

One thing is the aforementioned inscription. If it had been ordered from life by the Duke or someone who knew him, there would have been no need for an inscription, because they would have known who he was. Memorial miniatures often had an inscription, however, regardless of who they were ordered by.

The second is the informal outfit. Like the Royal Collection entirely correctly writes: The sitter is vividly characterised in what is in essence an informal portrait, one of the first in British art. Could this be because his image was being recreated by someone who had known him well, known him intimately, someone who had seen him in precisely this sort of setting? Like a sibling or a parent? This was how someone remembered him, as opposed to how he would have wanted to appear in a portrait?

The third is the marked resemblance to Henry VIII. Of course, it is entirely possible that Henry Fitzroy and Henry VIII just looked alike. They were father and son after all. That Edward VI and Henry VIII did not look strikingly alike in their portraits does not signify, such is the luck of the draw with genetics. Nor the fact that the similarity between this portrait purportedly of Henry Fitzroy (disputed) does not bear any overwhelming likeness to Henry VIII. That is the image of a child, not a boy nearly grown, and we do not know that it is of Henry Fitzroy. It does have the same eyes as the miniature, though. Of course the resemblance could have been there in real life, or it could (partially) be a result of using one of the miniatures of Henry VIII as a reference image, and the one who commissioned the miniature was someone who wished this likeness to be emphasised.

The Royal Colletion also writes: The miniature is a typical work by Horenbout, whose style is detectable in the modelling of the features, the prominent shadows under the eyes and mouth, and the form of the inscription seen against a blue background. However, if, as suggested above on this page, this was not the typical traits of Lucas Horenbout, but of Levina Teerlinc, that means that this miniature too is the work of Levina Teerlinc, not Lucas Horenbout.

This means that the miniature potentially could have been ordered by both Henry VIII and Mary I Tudor. Henry VIII was his father. Mary I Tudor was fond of her brother. She was at Framlingham Castle on her way to visit him when she received the news that he had died.

However, since Levina Teerlinc did not arrive in England until after 1544, the portrait must necessarily predate the miniature if the miniature was indeed painted by her. If the composition of the inscription of the portrait inspired the composition of the inscription of the miniature, the miniature must have been commissioned by Mary I Tudor at some time during her reign of 1553–1558.

Lord George Stuart

According to the Royal Collection, the earliest known provenance for the miniature of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset is 'Lord George Stuart; by whom given to Charles I(?)'.

George Stewart (or Stuart), 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny (17 July 1618 – 23 October 1642) was a Scottish nobleman and Royalist commander in the English Civil War. He was the son of Esmé Stewart, 3rd Duke of Lennox, and his wife Katherine Clifton, 2nd Baroness Clifton, and the brother of James Stewart, 1st Duke of Richmond and 4th Duke of Lennox, and of the Royalist commander Lord Bernard Stewart.

Stewart, his older brother Henry, and younger brother Ludovic were brought up at Aubigny in France as Roman Catholics under the charge of their paternal grandmother, the old Duchess-Dowager, Katherine de Balsac.

Stewart's father, the Duke of Lennox, died in 1624, and Stewart became a ward of his cousin, King Charles I of England. He inherited the Lordship of Aubigny at the age of 14 on the death of his elder brother Henry in 1632. By 1633, he was a student at the Collège de Navarre, part of the University of Paris, and he did homage to Louis XIII of France for the lordship of Aubigny on 5 August 1636, shortly after his eighteenth birthday. Later that year he moved to England.

In 1638 he secretly married Katherine Howard, the daughter of Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, and Elizabeth Home, without her father's consent, offending his guardian the king.

Katherine Howard, Lady d'Aubigny and George Stewart, 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny

Probably painted on the occasion of their marriage in 1538

Sir Anthony van Dyck


A very entertaining write-up of their romance can be found here:

'Luckily, it seems that all’s well that ends well and the happy couple were forgiven for their transgression and welcomed back to court, where they enjoyed much favour. Their London residence was on Queen’s Street near Covent Garden and it was there that in January 1640 her younger sister Lady Margaret Howard was married to Roger Boyle, the 1st Earl of Orrery.'

Could we perhaps here make an educated guess that the gifting of the miniature of Henry Fitzroy to Charles I happened at this point in time, at the reconciliation? As either a part of getting back into the king's good graces after the clandestine marriage, or as a thank you gift that they had?

George Stewart, 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny, was of French-Scottish heritage on his father's side, making it unlikely that he had inherited the miniature from his own kin on his father's side. His mother was Katherine Clifton, the daughter of Sir Gervaise Clifton, 1st Baron Clifton (c.1570 – 14 October 1618), and Katherine, a daughter of Sir Henry Darcy (a previous Knight of the Shire).

Sir Gervaise Clifton, 1st Baron Clifton Clifton was a son of Sir John Clifton (d.1593) of Barrington Court, Somerset, by his wife Anne Stanley, daughter of Thomas Stanley, 2nd Baron Monteagle (1507–1560) and Lady Mary Brandon (1510–1540/4). Sir John Clifton's father was a London merchant, Sir William Clifton (d.1564), who had purchased the manor of Barrington from Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk.

There does not appear to be any immediate connection between any of his ancestors and either Anne Boleyn (or indeed any member of either the Boleyn or Howard family) or Henry Fitzroy. Of course, Mary Brandon, Baroness Monteagle, spent most of her time at court. But neither she or her husband appear to have been a part of the circle around Henry Fitzroy, which included his wife Mary Howard, his cousins Lady Margaret Douglas and Henry Grey, his wife's brother Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and William Parr, Katherine Parr's brother.

Furthermore, until 1536, he lived in France, making opportunities to gift miniatures to the king sparse.

The most logical course of events is that the miniature was brought into the marriage by his wife, and that it was gifted to the king after this marriage had taken place in 1538.

But who were her family?

Well, she was a Howard, of course. As the biography states, she was the daughter of Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, and Elizabeth Home. This immediately triggered something in my memory. Upon perusing my notes, I saw that this was the same Theophilus Howard who was the great-grandfather of Lady Elizabeth Percy, wife of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset and the first known owner of the Royal Ontario miniature.

Did the miniature of Henry Fiztroy come from his wife, Mary Howard, and thence through the descent from her brother's children to Katherine Howard's husband, Lord George Stuart?

Or as a gift from Elizabeth I to Dorothy Devereux together with the Royal Ontario miniature?

But wait a moment. After writing the above sentence, I read through it, and then I read through it again.

How does that work?

It was Dorothy's son Algernon Percy who married Theophilus Howard's daughter Elizabeth, and that was in October of 1642, when Charles I had been imprisoned since June of that year, and presumably not receiving any gift of miniatures.

And that was obviously quite a different daughter than Theophilus Howard's daughter Katherine, who was the one who married George Stewart (or Stuart), 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny, the first known owner of the Henry Fitzroy miniature, who gave it to Charles I, and who would die on the 23rd of that same October, making the timeline quite impossible for it, even if a merry gift-giving of miniatures had been going on right in the middle of the civil war.

But wait. Hadn't I come across Theophilus Howard's name in yet another place while researching this?

I checked my notes.

Yes. Theophilus Howard was the one presented the RCIN 420640 and RCIN 420010 miniatures of Henry VIII to Charles I by c.1639.

No less than four of the inscribed miniatures have a link to Theophilus Howard.

Lord George Stuart, the first known owner of the miniature of Henry Fitzroy, was married to Theophilus' daughter Katherine.

Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, the first known owner of the Royal Ontario miniature, was married to the granddaughter of Theophilus' daughter Elizabeth.

Anne Boleyn - Royal Ontario Miniature

Thanks to Lee Porritt's wonderful blog Lady Jane Grey Revisited I made another amazing discovery:

«Described in this catalogue and referred to as being displayed over the chimney in the Manuscript Room is a miniature portrait thought at that time to be a representation of Lady Jane Grey. The Catalogue reports that the miniature, along with several other miniature portraits, including one thought to depict Jane Seymour and another of Thomas Seymour, Came into the possession of Mrs. Grenville from the collection of her grandfather Charles, Duke of Somerset.»

As luck would have it, all of these three miniatures were engraved by Robert Cooper, and copies of these engravings are now in the Royal Collection and in the National Portrait Gallery. We can therefore with certainty ascertain which miniatures these were and how they looked like.

The miniature here referred to as «Jane Seymour» is of course our very own the Royal Ontario Miniature.

The miniature thought at that time to be a representation of Lady Jane Grey, is of course Katherine Parr, wearing her distinctive crown headed brooch, and according to a later sales text, a crimson dress.

The third one was identified, quite correctly as Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley.

One of the other miniature portraits must have been the de Wet miniature, which Roland Hui writes «can also be traced back to Stowe.»

Engraving of The Royal Ontario Miniature – Here Called Jane Seymour

Looking at these miniatures together a clear picture emerges.

People Queen Elizabeth I Tudor loved.

Her mother, her father, her half-brother, her grandfather, her beloved step-mother Katherine Parr, that step-mother's husband and Elizabeth's own first love, Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley.

Of course it might be reasonably surmised that Elizabeth had barely any relationship at all with her half-brother Henry Fitzroy, who died before her third birthday.

But perhaps that was just it? He died before anything bad had time to happen. He did not cut her out of the succession (again) in favour of a distant cousin like Edward VI, or had her thrown in the Tower like Mary.

And we do not actually know that they did not have a relationship of some kind.

Same with Thomas Boleyn. He died when Elizabeth was five and a half, so there would certainly have been time. I have never heard of the two of them having any kind of relationship at all, but he was her grandfather and Elizabeth must have at least remembered him

«In 1564 Sir James Melville, Ambassador of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87), was shown some portrait miniatures belonging to Elizabeth I. The English Queen ‘took out the Queen’s [Mary, Queen of Scots’] picture, and kissed it’. It is possible Melville was referring to this miniature and that it subsequently remained in the Royal Collection. The manner in which Elizabeth I treated the miniature indicates the intimate use of such small-scale paintings.»

The above is from a description of a miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots in the Royal Collection. So we do know for certain, it is a matter of historical record, that Elizabeth did have a collection of portrait miniatures. And if she had a portrait miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots, whom she did not love at all, does it not stand to reason that Elizabeth also had miniatures of her loved ones?

Our Miniatures at Stowe

Stowe, a description of the house and gardens of the most noble and puissant prince, Richard Grenville Nugent Chandos Temple, Marquess of Buckingham (1817) by Thomas Medland

The miniature of Katherine Parr engraved above (then called Lady Jane Grey), the Royal Ontario Miniature (then called Jane Seymour), Admiral (Thomas) Seymour, brother to the Protector Duke of Somerset, and the de Wet miniature possibly of Thomas Boleyn (then called the Protector, Duke of Somerset) were all given to Elizabeth Wyndham, Mrs. Grenville (1719 – 5 December 1769) by her grandfather Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset.

So we see that no less than seven of the Tudor miniatures we know of today can be traced to Theophilus Howard or his direct descendants.

Timeline-wise it makes no sense for his possession of the miniatures to have anything to do with the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to Dorothy Devereaux's son Algernon Percy. That marriage took place several years after the gift-giving had occurred.

I immediately started looking for other connections.

Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, (13 August 1584 – 3 June 1640) had no less than two siblings who were married to direct descendants of Mary Boleyn and Catherine Carey:

  • Elizabeth Howard (c.1583 – 17 April 1658) who m. 1) William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury and had issue; 2) in June 1632 Edward Vaux, 4th Baron Vaux of Harrowden (some say that Elizabeth's and William's children were illegitimate and in fact the children of her second husband)
  • Frances Howard (31 May 1590 – 1632) who m. 1) Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex (1591–1646); 2) Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset had issue


However, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, was still a mere child of 12 at the time of the Queen's death in 1603. Furthermore, his father and namesake Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex, had led an unsuccessful rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I in 1601 and had been subsequently executed for treason. This cost the family the earldom, and the earldom was not restored to his disinherited son until the ascension of King James I Stuart after the death of Queen Elizabeth I.

As previously noted, he also shared much of his life, at Chartley and Drayton Bassett, with the elderly Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester, the detested rival of Elizabeth I Tudor. In spite of the fact that the man they had both loved had been buried for 15 years at the point when she herself passed away there is no sign that Elizabeth I ever forgave Lettice Knollys.

It is therefore supremely unlikely that Queen Elizabeth I would at any point have gifted him any portraits.

Besides, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex's marriage to Frances Howard was dissolved under the most scandalous circumstances possible, after only a few years. He was married at age 13 to the 14-year-old Frances Howard; before being sent on a European tour from 1607 to 1609, apparently without having consummated the marriage. The marriage was primarily a political union; they were separated after the wedding to prevent them from having intercourse, with the view that premature sex and pregnancy was to be avoided. Essex's European tour from 1607 to 1609 was probably specifically designed by their elders to prevent a consummation of the marriage.

Little did they know how well they would succeed.

Meanwhile, his wife began an affair with Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, a favourite of King James I. 

When Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, returned from his tour, Frances made every effort to avoid him. He was at the time seriously ill with smallpox, but she had also fallen in love with another. 

After Essex's return, Frances sought an annulment on the grounds of impotence. Essex claimed that he was only impotent with her and had been perfectly capable with other women, adding that she "reviled him, and miscalled him, terming him a cow and coward, and beast."

The divorce was a public spectacle and it made Essex a laughing-stock at court.

The annulment was granted on the 25th of September 1613, and Frances Howard married her lover, who had been made 1st Earl of Somerset, on the 26th of December 1613.

This makes it extremely unlikely that a lover's gift of portraits of the old King was ever exchanged, unless it was a part of an exchange of what Robert Devereux wished that he could do to his fair bride. (He would later sit as a juror in the trial of his former wife when she and her new husband were involved in a murder scandal and pressed the King to send her to the scaffold.)

However, the marriage of Theophilus Howard's sister Elizabeth to William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury, shows more promise as regards our miniatures.

Could all four miniatures have been a gift to Theophilus from his sister Elizabeth, the widow of William Knollys?

William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury (1544 – 25 May 1632) was an English nobleman at the court of Queen Elizabeth I and later at the court of King James.

He would thus have been well known to Queen Elizabeth I. As the son of Catherine Carey and Sir Francis Knollys he would also have been the Queen's first cousin once removed and possibly her nephew if Henry VIII was indeed Catherine Carey's biological father.

He would therefore have been well placed to receive a gift of great sentimental value from the dying Queen Elizabeth I.

Who receives what of prized heirlooms will always be a matter of chance, interest and opportunity.

If Elizabeth wished to leave miniatures that were precious to her to someone in her Boleyn connection in the hope that they would be precious to them too, there were still many candidates. Sir Robert Knollys (1547–1626), Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton (1549–c.1605), Sir Francis Knollys "the Younger" (c.1552–1643), Anne Knollys, Lady De La Warr (1555–1608) and Katherine Knollys, Lady Offaly (1559–1620) were all still alive of the children of Catherine Carey and Sir Francis Knollys and on reasonably good terms with the Queen. Many of them had been at court with her for years.

The miniatures could just as easily have passed to Dorothy Devereux, as I suggested earlier.

That being said, there are some things that might have made William Knollys particularly interesting to the Queen in this regard. With the exception of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and of Leicester (1543–1634) (who the Queen hated like poison), William Knollys was the oldest surviving child of Catherine Carey and Francis Knollys.

In 1603, William Knollys was childless, like Elizabeth, and he was in love with someone he couldn't have, like Elizabeth.

Four miniatures, two of her father and his possible grandfather, one of her mother and his aunt.

Five. If Catherine Carey really were Henry VIII's daughter, that would have meant that Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Somerset and Richmond, was her half-brother too, and William Knollys the duke's nephew.

There were born two children in the marriage of Elizabeth Howard and William Knollys, but these were widespread presumed to be the children of Elizabeth's lover, Edward Vaux.

The children did not even take the Knollys name and were not even mentioned in the will of William Knollys.

There would therefore be little reason for Elizabeth and her two sons to keep the miniatures for sentimental reasons.

Within five weeks of her first husband's death, in June 1532, Elizabeth married her lover, Edward Vaux, 4th Baron Vaux of Harrowden, the likely father of her two children.

It is interesting to note that William Knollys, 1st Earl of Banbury, died in 1632, while Theophilus Howard, 2nd Earl of Suffolk, his brother-in-law, presented the two miniatures in the Royal Collection to Charles I c.1639.

William Knollys (1547–1632) – David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

ELIZABETH HOWARD (August 1586 – 17 April 1658)

Elizabeth Howard was the eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk (1561–1626) and Katherine Knyvett (c.1564–1638). At eighteen, she was courted by sixteen-year-old Edward, 4th baron Vaux of Harrowden (13 September 1588 – 8 September 1661) and plans were underway for them to marry. These had fallen through by 14 July 1605, when Edward was granted a license to travel abroad for three years. On 12 August 1605, when King James paid a visit to Harrowden Hall, Vaux’s mother tried to revive the suit, but the suspicion that she had foreknowledge of the Gunpowder Plot in November put an end to any hope of the match. On 2 December 1605, less than two months after the death of his first wife, Dorothy Bray, Elizabeth married William Knollys, Baron Knollys of Greys (c.1545–1632), who was created Viscount Wallingford in 1616 and earl of Banbury in 1626. In 1613, they entertained Anne of Denmark at Caversham Park, Oxfordshire. The entertainment included a masque by Thomas Campion. Elizabeth was a staunch Catholic with a domineering personality. In 1618, her parents were accused of embezzlement and later her sister Frances was charged with the murder of Thomas Overbury. After Frances and her husband were released from the Tower of London in 1622, they were confined for a time at Caversham Park by order of King James. Later, Frances was a frequent visitor to both Caversham Park and Rotherfield Greys. Elizabeth had two sons, Edward (10 April 1627 – 1645) and Nicholas (3 January 1631 – 14 March 1674). Some genealogies list an unnamed daughter (1606–1610). Both boys were born at Harrowden Hall, Northamptonshire. According to Godfrey Anstruther in Vaux of Harrowden, who dates the marriage to Knollys as 19 January 1606, Knollys was unaware of the birth of either boy until well after each confinement. Before the birth of her sons, Elizabeth began an affair with Edward Vaux, her first love. Less than five weeks after Knollys died, Elizabeth married Vaux. She was buried at Dorking, Surrey. Portrait: attributed to Daniel Mytens, c.1618-20. Elizabeth Howard – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

Elizabeth Howard (1586–1658), Countess of Banbury by Daniel Mytens


25 May 1632 – Death of William Knollys

By about 1639 – Theophilus Howard presents the two miniatures of Henry VIII to Charles I

Around 1636–1642 – George Stewart, 9th Seigneur d'Aubigny, Theophilus Howard's son-in-law, gifts the miniature of Henry Fitzroy to Charles I

1600's–1700's – The Royal Ontario miniature of Anne Boleyn, the lady in 1520's garb with an inscription, the de Wet miniature, and the miniatures of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour are in the possession of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset (1662–1748), who is married to a direct descendant of Theophilus Howard, and subsequently, their descendents the Dukes of Buckingham at Stowe

1817 – The miniature of Katherine Parr (then called Lady Jane Grey), the Royal Ontario Miniature (then called Jane Seymour), the miniature of Thomas Seymour and the de Wet miniature possibly of Thomas Boleyn (then called the Protector [Edward Seymour], Duke of Somerset) are all registered at Stowe and as given to Elizabeth Wyndham, Mrs. Grenville (1719 – 5 December 1769) by her grandfather Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset

There is also one alternative trajectory the miniatures could have taken to Theophilus Howard.

His mother Katherine Knyvett, Countess of Suffolk (1564–1638) «gained a place in Queen Elizabeth's bedchamber and the title of Keeper of the Jewels in 1599. This honour went further as she was also granted authority over the lodgings where Queen Anne gave birth to the princess. In fact, she was in such a position of high esteem within the court, she would have been given the honour of godmother to Princess Sophia born of Queen Anne if the child had not perished. She danced in two of the queen's masques, one of which was written by Ben Jonson, titled The Masque of Blackness. King James wanted the actors to look African so the actors painted their faces black. In 1611, the poet Emilia Lanier chose to dedicate her poem Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum to her.

Howard strived with some success to gain rank in court but proved to be corrupt. She served as a liaison between Spain and Salisbury, and demanded bribes for doing so. Sir Thomas Howard was appointed Lord Treasurer, which allowed her more opportunity for financial gain. Howard was known to be very beautiful in her younger years, and during her time at court had many suitors and a string of alleged love affairs, using the position her husband achieved in the government to extort kickbacks from her lovers. However, in 1619, at the age of 55, she was the victim of an attack of smallpox "which spoiled that good face of hers, which had brought to other much misery and to herself greatness which ended with much unhappiness." Many of the details of her corruption came out in the Suffolk's trial in the same year, where Sir John Finet alleged "to be spared a bond of £500, a citizen gave £83 and a sable muff to the countess".

The Countess was ultimately caught and, as a result of her treachery, she and her family were banned from court. Peers generally sympathised with Sir Thomas for being caught in her web of corruption, and she endured the brunt of the blame for the Howards' fall from grace. After being expelled from court, she continued to write letters on behalf of others seeking court positions.» Katherine Knyvett – The History Jar

She does not seem to have been a woman unduly bothered by moral scruples.

As Queen Elizabeth I's Keeper of the Jewels at the time of the Queen's death in 1603, she probably had access to Queen Elizabeth I's collection of miniatures (which we know that she had, whether 'our' miniatures were among them or not), even if Queen Elizabeth I's miniatures were not kept among the jewellery itself, which it is exceedingly likely that it *was*. Miniatures were considered jewellery, and particularly women's jewellery in this period.

It is not without the realm of reason to imagine that such a woman would have used the opportunity of the confusion between Elizabeth I's death and the arrival of James I to help herself to some valuables she assumed would not be missed.

Katherine Knyvett's death in 1638 fits just as well with the miniatures' appearance in history as William Knollys's death in 1632.

Katherine Knyvett, Countess of Suffolk

Sir George Carew (c.1504 – 19 July 1545)

This is a posthumous oil painting of George Carew, an English admiral who died when the ''Mary Rose'' sank on the 19th of July 1545.

It is clearly based on this sketch by Holbein:

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But it can be equally certainly be stated that the oil painting itself was neither the work of Hans Holbein the Younger or Lucas Horenbout/bolte, because they were both dead by the time of the Mary Rose's sinking on the 19th of July 1545.

So who executed the oil painting with such skill?

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From Wikipedia: «Horenbout's miniature of Holbein (1543) is among his most accomplished works, not least because he copies the face from a self-portrait drawing by Holbein; his own drawing skills are not the strongest. This miniature was also nearly always regarded as a self-portrait, until recent technical examination made clear that the style of painting is actually very different from that of undoubted Holbein miniatures: there is "an absence of his subtle gradations of flesh tone and colour" and "no sign of the extremely thin pen-like lines which are so notable a feature in Holbein's drawing of such details as the embroidered edges of costume". There are two versions attributed to Horenbout, of which the better is in the Wallace Collection. It may be a memorial portrait, painted in the six months interval between the death of Holbein and that of Horenbout.»

One possibility is indeed that Lucas Horenbout executed the little miniature.

Another possibility is that Levina Teerlinc did it.

What makes me believe that this is the work of Levina Teerlinc rather than Lucas Horenbout is the beard. If you look at the beard, the workmanship is markedly different from say the drawing Holbein made of himself and which the miniature is based on.

The beard instead bears great resemblance to how Levina Teerlinc drew fur.

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From Wikipedia: «The gold background is of a later date. According to art historian John Rowlands, "Although this drawing has been enlarged on all sides and heavily reworked, enough of it still shows to allow the assumption that the original work was executed by Holbein. The inscription, although late in date, evidently records an earlier one, of which slight traces remain. There is no evidence to suggest that Holbein ever executed a painted portrait based on this drawing". Painted versions of the drawing by other hands exist, including one by Lucas Horenbout, in which the left-handed Holbein is holding a paintbrush. Art historian Stephanie Buck notes that Holbein's direct gaze suggests he was looking into a mirror. Holbein died not long after completing this self-portrait, probably of the plague.»

Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, c.1509–49 (MNT0137)


Follower of Lucas Horenbout

16th century English School

Gilt; pencil; bodycolour on vellum | Frame: 52 x 43 mm; Primary Support: 42 x 42 mm

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection | MNT0137


The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, dates this miniature to 1545–1547, which fits perfectly with it being by Levina Teerlinc. Again, it is the beard that makes me think that this is her work. 

Jane Seymour

Sudeley Castle[]


This is the one I am the most uncertain about.

There is something like looking through a hazy mist about this miniature too, which leads me to believe that it could be the work of Lucas Horenbout.

At the same time, the workmanship is more precise, leading me to believe that it could be the work of Holbein. And yet, it is not quite Holbein-esque, either. If you compare it with the miniature of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, for instance, that is even more precise, the edges harder.

The workmanship resembles most of all the minatures above and below, and I am reasonably certain that both of those two are the work of Levina Teerlinc.

Portrait of a man, probably Sir George Carew (ca.1504-1545)

An Unknown Man


Attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger, ca. 1497–1543, German, active in Switzerland and England

Formerly attributed to Lucas Horenbout, 1490/95–1544, Netherlandish, active in Britain

Gouache and gold on thin card | Sheet: 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm) and Frame: 2 5/8 x 2 1/4 in. (6.7 x 5.7 cm)

Yale Center for British Art | B1974.2.58


Again it is the beard that makes me believe that this is the work of Levina Teerlinc.

Probably a copy after Holbein.

This miniature was purchased by Paul Mellon as a pair with the Yale Miniature, sold by Sotheby’s London, on 1 June 1970 from the collection of Miss Dorothy Hutton. He later donated both to the the Yale Center for British Art. It was at the time thought that both miniatures were created by the same artist. If Levina Teerlinc indeed painted both, that would actually prove to be true.

Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes


Nicholas Hilliard

Unknown materials | 3.5 x 2 1/5 in.

Wellbeck Abbey

Formerly in the collection of the Duke of Portland

The Coronation Miniature


Charles V. Portrait Miniature by Lucas Horenbout, about 1525-30, watercolour on vellum, remounted onto modern card. Museum no. P.22-1942, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (http://web.archive.org/web/20160108000245/http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/a-history-of-the-portrait-miniature/) - Katherine of Aragon - Anne Boleyn - Katherine Parr

It is my belief that these four miniatures represent the work of Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte) or that of someone in his workshop.

Candidates are his sister Susannah Hornebolte, or his wife Margaret, who we know was paid sixty shillings three years after his death by Queen Katherine Parr for 'some paintings'.

The artist of these miniatures can singled out.

Elizabeth I Tudor - Katherine Grey Seymour - Mary Dudley Sidney - Mary Nevill Fiennes Lady Dacre

Lady Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, with her son Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp of Hache

The Beaufort Miniature

The Yale Miniature

Unknown Lady Called Lady Frances Grey Watercolour on vellum (c)Victoria and Albert Museum

The Fitzwilliam Portrait (detail)

I have for a time now entertained the thought that this portrait might be Frances Brandon. I do think I detect some likeness with the sketch purportedly of her sister, Eleanor Brandon, (though others did not perceive this similarity), the sketch of her mother, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and she has the Tudor red hair. It would of course also explain the similarity with her cousin Queen Mary I, with whom the portrait has long been associated with and the sitter identified as.

The possible 'D' on her girdle prayer book would then of course stand for 'Dorset'. Frances was known as the Marchioness of Dorset until late 1551 when her husband was created Duke of Suffolk and she became Duchess of Suffolk.

Frances would certainly have been in possession of enough finery to be the lady in the Fitzwilliam Portrait.

I have ultimately decided against this theory, though. Her collar dates to a later time than 1551, and she should thus have been portrayed with an 'S' for Suffolk, if anything. Of course, it could have been an old girdle prayer book (they were costly things) in a new portrait, but considering how obsessed people in this period were with status and their symbols, I hold this to be unlikely.

Also, I do not know how much of her finery Frances was in possession of after the events of 1554.

I have however found one candidate whose known facts about her life line up perfectly with what little we know of the lady in the Fitzwilliam Portrait. 

KATHERINE BRYDGES (c.1524-April 1566)

Katherine Brydges was the daughter of John Brydges, 1st baron Chandos (March 9, 1491/2-April 13, 1557) and Elizabeth Grey (d. December 29, 1559). She was a gentlewoman of the privy chamber to Queen Mary. In early 1556, she married Edward Sutton, baron Dudley (d. July 9, 1586) and soon after found herself being questioned about her brother-in-law, Sir Henry Dudley, the conspirator. Her husband was imprisoned for debt in June 1558, by which time Catherine had given birth to their only child, Anne (c.1554-November 28, 1605). Lady Dudley was buried on April 25, 1566 in St. Edmund’s Chapel, Dudley.

Katherine Brydges – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

The possible 'D' would then stand for Dudley, as Katherine Brydges would have been properly styled 'Lady Dudley' after her marriage. She was married in 1556, at the age of 32, which could fit with the age of the lady in the Fitzwilliam Portrait and the painting being a 'marriage portrait.' She was a gentlewoman of the privy chamber to Queen Mary, and thus at court and accessible to Levina Teerlinc.

I remain not wholly convinced though.

According to Wikipedia, «Amy Dudley came to London in May 1559 for about a month». The Beaufort Miniature could have be

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French Portrait of Anne Boleyn

Framing Renaissance portrait miniatures in Paris and London by The Frame Blog

Henry VIII

Tudor Portraits

Henry Fitzroy


Elizabeth I (1533-1603) c.1565. Royal Collection (RCIN 4209879)

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) c.1560-5. Royal Collection (RCIN 420944)

Katherine Grey Seymour (1540-1568) c.1555-1560. Victoria and Albert Museum (VAM P.10&A-1979)

Katherine Grey Seymour (1540-1568) 1549. Victoria and Albert Museum (VAM P.21-1954)

Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney (d.1586) c.1575. Victoria and Albert Museum (VAM E.1170-1988)









Lucas Horenbout

It is my belief that these are the works of Lucas Horenbout/bolte:


Queen Mary I


Attributed to Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte)


'Showing Mary as princess, this may be the earliest surviving English portrait miniature. The inscription painted on her bodice, meaning 'The Emperor', probably refers to Mary's engagement to the Emperor Charles V between 1521 and 1525.' Purchased 1999.


Katherine of Aragon


Attributed to Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte)


Lent by an anonymous lender, 2009.

The Emperor Charles V


Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte)


'Charles V was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, ruler of all the Habsburg domains. This miniature is a version of an oil painting (in the British Royal Collection) made in the studio of Bernart van Orley. King Henry VIII was married to the Emperor's aunt, Katherine of Aragon, and the Emperor probably sent the oil portrait as a gift to the Tudor court. Lucas Horenbout (also known as Hornebolte) made other reduced copies of oil portraits'


Levina Teerlinc


It is my belief that these are actually the works of Levina Teerlinc:




Katherine of Aragon


Attributed to Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte)


'Purchased, 1969'




A Girl, formerly thought to be Elizabeth I as Princess


Attributed to Levina Teerlinc

The Victoria and Albert Museum,  P.21-1954



Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford

C. 1555-1560

Attributed to Levina Teerlinc

The Victoria and Albert Museum,  P.10&A-1979


'On the basis of costume and the sitter's age, this miniature dates from the reign of Mary I (1553-1558), who Lady Jane Grey had unsuccessfully tried to usurp. Katherine would have been about 15 to 20 years old. Levina Teerlinc’s portrait composition is based on the formula of Hans Eworth, with the sitter painted to the waist with hands clasped together. Levina was the daughter of Simon Benninck, a famous member of the Ghent-Bruges school of illuminators. She was part of the royal household, a gentlewoman to both Mary I and Elizabeth I.'



'The reverse of the miniature is inscribed in a sixteenth-century hand, "the La Kathe' / Graye. / Wyfe of Therle of hertford." '


Portrait miniature of Lady Katherine Grey and her son


Attributed to Levina Teerlinc

Rutland Collection, Belvoir Castle


Elizabeth I (1533-1603) 


Royal Collection, RCIN 420987


'This miniature was described when in the collection of Charles I by his Surveyor of Pictures, Abraham van der Doort: 'done upon the right light in a white Ivory Box wthout a Christall a Certaine Ladies Picture in her haire a gold bone lace little ruff. and black habbitt lined with white furr wth goulden Tissue sleeves wth one hand over another supposed to have bin - Queene Elizabeth before shee came to the Crowne' and, in the margin, 'don by an unknowne hand. Supposed to be don for Queen Eliz: before she came to the Crowne'. The image can be confirmed as Elizabeth I with reference to another in the Royal Collection (420944) which clearly shows the same sitter. Both miniatures have recently been included by Graham Reynolds within a group of nine works which have been ascribed to the miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard and dated to the 1560s, the first decade of his long career.'


Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558. If the picture was done before then, Nicholas Hilliard (c.1547-1619) would at the most have been eleven years old.


Even allowing for that the original supposition was incorrect and this was painted after her reign had begun, it must have been painted very early into it, probably closer to 1560 than 1565.


The description of its corresponding miniature in the Royal Collection, through dating that one more tentatively to 1560-5, acknowledges this.


Elizabeth I (1533-1603) 


Royal Collection, RCIN 420944



In the time period 1560-5 Nicholas Hilliard's age would have been from 13 to 18 years old at the most 


It seems as if it is easier to accept that a child of 13 painted this than a woman.


Portrait of Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney (d.1586)


Attributed to Levina Teerlinc


'Inscription Content: Inscribed on the back in pre-Civil war hand La: Mary Sydney'


'Strong, Sir Roy, "The Leicester House miniatures: Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester and his circle", Burlington Magazine CXXVII, October 1988, p. 698, Cat. No. II, fig. 46. 
The following in an excerpt from a valuation report made by Christie's of the estate of the late Rt. Hon. Viscount Harcourt, K. C. M. G., O. B. E.

"The attribution to Teerlinc can only be tentative as little evidence has emerged to draw any substantiative facts. It is known that she painted a number of small paintings from the lists of the New Year gifts to the Queen, the attribution of a group of 14 miniatures is based on the 'Elizabethan Maundy' at Madresfield Court (Auberach, 1961, p.53). In a comparison to this miniature and that of Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, which is generally accepted as being part of the group, not only is the formal and composition similar, but there is the same thin application of colour, red rosebud lips and thin twiggy arms. it is possible, therefore, to add this miniature to the other small group painted at the time and bearing similar characteristics, which are all attributed to Teerlinc. 
The dress suggests a date of ca. 1570s as Teerlinc died in 157, it is probably one of the artist's last works. Lady Sidney (d. 1586) was the wife of Henry Sidney and mother of Robert Sidney, she nursed the Queen through smallpox, and it is therefore quite possible that she was granted the privilege of having her portrait executed by Teerlic. 
The miniature is extremely interesting in that it is the only example of this important sitter, and one of the last works of the artist." '



Addendum 25.09.2020

The two miniatures in the Royal Collection, RCIN 420987 and RCIN 420944, are no longer attributed to Hilliard.

A small step for man, a big step for womankind.

Picture taken by Lisby of portrait of Mary Boleyn located at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, England in June 2011.

Mary Boleyn - Warwick Castle Portrait






The Portland Portrait

Fulvia Pico della Mirandole, Comtesse de Randan (d.1607) - National Trust

Provenance - John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick

Gabrielle de Rochechouart by Corneille de Lyon, circa 1574, oil on wood, 16.5 x 14 cm (6.5 x 5.5 in), Musée Condé, Chantilly, France. Gabrielle was the second wife of Louis de Lansac (d.1589), bastard son of Francis I of France by his mistress Jacquette de Lansac. Following Gabrielle’s marriage in 1565, she served as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother, the indomitable Catherine d' Médici. See J. Massiet du Biest, Inventaire Sommaire Archives Départementales Antérieures à 1790, Série E: Famille(Tours: Gibert-Clarey, 1955), 204.

Her husband, Louis de Saint-Gelais de Lansac de la Rivière, dit le Vieux, (1513 - 1589)

Louise de Halluin, Dame de Cipierre, maid of honor to Catherine de’ Medici, c. 1555, - Art Institute Chicago




The two top miniatures actually does look as if they could have been drawn by the same artist. like a skin-coloured crayon in a child's colouring box.

Queen Elizabeth I Tudor would have been supremely unlikely to have ordered a miniature of Amy Robsart Dudley, whose life and then mysterious death prevented a marriage between the Queen and her favourite Robert Dudley.

'Portrait miniatures first appeared in the 1520s, at the French and English courts. Like medals, they were portable, but they also had realistic colour. The earliest examples were painted by two Netherlandish miniaturists, Jean Clouet working in France and Lucas Horenbout in England.

Miniatures were particularly useful to the monarchy. They were small enough to be given personally, sometimes in a public ceremony, as a sign of the monarch's favour. But since a miniature could be presented unframed, the person receiving it often had the expense of providing a suitable locket.'