The Yale Miniature

The Yale Miniature

The miniature is inscribed with the age of the sitter, "AN[N]O XVIII" ("in [her] 18th year").

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. David Starkey argued in 2007 that she was Lady Jane Grey. 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, see p.102–106 of A Queen of a New Invention.

For myself, I have always been inclined to believe that she is Amy Robsart.

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.

«The lady in the Yale miniature ‟wears a gold brooch mounted with a black classical head and behind it a bunch of acorns and a spray of yellow flowers“. As pointed out by Starkey, an inventory of Jane’s possessions as queen lists two gold brooches with a face cut in agate. However as J. S. Edwards has remarked, ‟these particular carved-stone faces are so vaguely described, … that they cannot reliably be associated with the one depicted in the miniature. Further, such ‘faces in agate’ were both highly prized and fairly common in the Tudor period.“ David Starkey has seen the flowers as gillyflowers of the kind seen in the Tower of London carving associated with the five imprisoned Dudley brothers, where they represent Guildford Dudley. Guildford being Lady Jane Grey’s husband, Starkey has interpreted the flowers in the miniature as symbols of their union. Both Eric Ives and J. S. Edwards have argued though that they are not of the Tower variant and cannot be determined precisely – they could as well be cowslips. Most importantly, however, the acorns of the miniature remain unexplained in Starkey’s theory.»

«Gillyflowers served as a general symbol of marriage and fidelity. The flowers in the Yale miniature are ‟impaled“, that is arranged to symbolize ‟a marriage between a man whose badge was an oak and a woman whose badge was a flower.“ A 1550 wedding celebrated in court circles, indeed in the presence of King Edward VI, was that of Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart. The bridal couple were almost the same age, just days away from their 18th birthday. Acorns and the oak were used by Robert Dudley in a carving in the Tower of London as a personal symbol or ‟device“, the pun deriving from the similarity of his name, Robert, to the Latin word for ‟oak“, robur. The age of the sitter fitting, and the plant symbolism making sense, Amy Dudley née Robsart has been suggested as a possible candidate by Eric Ives, an idea taken up by Chris Skidmore and also Leanda de Lisle.» (Elizabeth, Jane, Amy? The Riddle of the Yale Miniature – All Things Robert Dudley)

Elizabeth I Tudor when a Princess (detail)

Elizabeth I when a Princess


Attributed to William Scrots (active 1537-53)

Oil on panel | 108.5 x 81.8 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

The Royal Collection | RCIN 404444


The fashions, the design of the dresses, the necklines of the dresses, and the French hoods are virtually identical.

The Royal Collection has dated the portrait of Elizabeth I when a Princess to c.1546, it may even be a portrait that is mentioned in a letter from Elizabeth to her brother Edward in 1547 as a gift from the princess to her brother.

The fashions of the girl in the miniature is perfectly in keeping with the fashions of Queen Katherine Parr and her two step-daughters Mary and Elizabeth Tudor in the 1540's.

In the 1550's fashion would change radically from this look, see our 1550's and 1560's page, but I believe in the summer of 1550, when Amy Robsart was married just a few days before her 18th birthday, this fashion could still have been in vogue.

The Yale Miniature

The Yale Miniature (detail)

Acorns – Oak for robur, Robert

The Acorns for Robert

The Dudley Carving of the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London © Tim Ridgway

The Acorns for Robert – The Dudley Carving of the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London Inside (The Tower of London | Lady Jane Reference Guide)

«This beautiful carving of the Dudley coat of arms is thought to have been made by John Dudley, son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who died on this day in 1554 shortly after his release from the Tower of London.» 

«John is said to have carved the coat of arms into the stone wall of the Beauchamp Tower of the Tower of London when he, his brothers and father were imprisoned there after the fall of Lady Jane Grey, wife of John’s brother, Guildford. The carving features the bear and ragged staff (the badge of the Earls of Warwick), the double-tailed lion rampant (badge of the Dudley family) and a floral border with oak leaves and acorns for Robert Dudley (Quercus robur is the Latin for English oak), roses for Ambrose Dudley, honeysuckle for Henry Dudley (Lonicera henryi) and Gilly Flower for Guildford Dudley.

The inscription reads:

“You that these beasts do wel behold and se, may deme with ease wherefore here made they be, with borders eke within [there may be found] 4 brothers names who list to search the ground.”» The Dudley Carving of the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London – The Anne Boleyn Files

On a related subject, see the excellent History of The IANE Inscriptions at Lady Jane Grey Revisited.

The Yale Miniature (detail)

In this detail of the Yale Miniature we can see a close-up of the flowers connected with the brooch. Like everybody else, for me it's a tie between whether they look more like gillyflowers or cowslips, without being able to guarantee that they're either.



I could find no play on words for either flower and Amy, Amia, Amata or Robsart. Nor any connection with the Robsart coat of arms, except that they have same colours, green and yellow, or Vert and Or.

Like gillyflowers, cowslips appear to have been a flower for weddings, especially in Amy Robsart's native Norfolk. It was once scattered on church paths at weddings. (Wildlife in Common - Cowslip by Barry Madden)

However, if the flower is a gillyflower, I discovered something interesting:

The name gilliflower or gillyflower derives from the French giroflée from Greek karyophyllon = "nut-leaf" = the spice called clove, the association deriving from the flower's scent.


Acorns and nut-leaves.

Oak = Robur, Robert

This means that if the flowers are gillyflowers, the meaning of the brooch is ... "Robert Robert". 

Show me the 18-year-old who would not have thought that to be so funny. And sooo romantic to boot, with the double meaning of the groom's name and wedding. (My apologies to all the 18-year-olds who would obviously have been too mature think it either amusing or romantic. I am sorry I could not have counted myself amongst their number.)

Rob was also the first syllable of Amy's maiden name of Robsart. It could have been a play on words for both of their names.

Two puns and one general reference to wedding festivities.

Giroflée ravenelle, Cheiranthus cheiri

Giroflée ravenelle, Cheiranthus cheiri

Giroflée ravenelle, Cheiranthus cheiri

David Starkey identified the tiny yellowish flowers underlying the bodice brooch as gillyflowers or wallflowers, specifically Cheiranthus cheiri.[1]

Or Giroflée ravenelle, Cheiranthus cheiri, in French.

I am inclined to believe that he is right.

Cheiranthus cheiri bloomed between April and July in the early modern English climate.[2] Amy Robsart and Robert Dudley were married on the 4th of June 1550.

The Robsart Coat of Arms

per pale, the noble coat Robsart with of such a miscreant." – Kenilworth by Walter Scott


The coat of arms of the Robsart family is Vert, a lion rampant or.

Robsart (----), bore, vert, a lyon rampant or ("et alii the revers"); borne also by Sir John, K.G., and Sir George, K.G. temp. H. V. (Some Feudal Coats of Arms from Heraldic Rolls 1298-1418, London: James Parker & Co. (1902) by Joseph Foster)

The Robsart Coat of Arms © Rs-nourse

The coat of arms can be seen on the tomb of Sir Lewis Robsart in Westminster Abbey, as photographed by @mementouk.

Avert your eyes everybody who values your eyesight.

The Tomb of Sir Lewis Robsart – Westminster Abbey © @mementouk

Abandon All Hope of Eyesight, Ye Who Enter Here

The Tomb of Sir Lewis Robsart – Westminster Abbey © @mementouk

Most of the original decoration had been deliberately washed over with a dingy stone colour in the early 19th century.[3]

The Tomb of Sir Lewis Robsart in Its Pre-Painted State Centre-Right in This 1811 Illustration

On the tomb can be found three mottos: "Non nobis D’ne, non nobis sed N’ni tuo da gloriam" (Not unto us O Lord, not unto us but unto Thy name give glory), "L'honneur a Dieu, a nous Merci" and "Learne to dye to live ever",[4][5][6] which is only mildly interesting, except for the fact that Lady Jane Grey famously wrote in her last letter to her sister Katherine "learn you to die", "live still to die, that you by death may purchase eternal life" and "My good sister, once more again let me entreat thee to learn to die; [...] even in death there is life."

«In the case of the letter to Katherine, ‘we must recognise that Jane was addressing herself. The comforts and securities she was urging on Katherine were the comforts and certainties which she had to hold on through the ensuing hours.’ (p.271-272, Ives)» (Letter to Sister | Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide)

It is not known what (if any) relationship the two sisters-in-law Amy Robsart and Lady Jane Grey had. Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley were living with his parents in London for the duration of their marriage,[7] so any visits made by Lord Robert Dudley and his wife to the Northumberlands must necessarily have involved them as well.

Some years previous, Lady Jane Grey and her future mother-in-law Jane, then Countess of Warwick had been joint godmothers to Bess of Hardwick's little daughter Temperance. This shows some level of socialising between the families prior to Jane's marriage to Guildford.

Lady Jane Grey – The Duckett Portrait

Amy Robsart – The Yale Miniature

It seems silly to suggest that Lady Jane Grey and Amy Robsart took a stroll through Westminster Abbey, amongst other things looking at and perhaps discussing the tomb of her great-uncle Sir Lewis Robsart and the mottos found there. Then again it seems equally silly to suggest that such a common-place event could not have found place.

Amy Robsart could read and write, many letters in her hand survive, in a time few people could, and while probably not the intellectual equal of Jane (few people were) it could be that she was educated enough for Jane to feel that she was worthwhile company for the time the two of them were in each other's presence and/or vicinity. For Amy Robsart it would have been her third year of marriage without a grandchild for the Northumberlands. Jane had never been too fussed about her marriage in the first place and loathed her mother-in-law to the point that she suspected her of poisoning her. Perhaps they both felt the need to get out of the house for a while.

The Tomb of Sir Lewis Robsart – Westminster Abbey © @mementouk

EDITED TO ADD 03.01.2021

When I wrote the above, I was a bit uncertain if Amy and Jane would have found the time for a visit to Westminster Abbey together, even though any tourist to London manage it during one weekend.

However, at the time it was unknown to me and I thought it was unknown if Robert and Amy were even at a visit at his parents’ house in London from the North during the brief time Jane and Guildford were married.

However, according Simon Adams’s Dudley, Robert, earl of Leicester (1532/3–1588) (2008) at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the young couple dwelt mostly at court or with Amy's parents-in-law at Ely House; in the first half of 1553 they lived at Somerset House, Robert Dudley being keeper of this great Renaissance palace. 

This means that Amy and Jane were both living in London during the time they were sisters-in-law, they may even have resided in the same house for some of the time.


Amy Robsart, Looking at the Portrait of Leicester, coincidentally or not dressed in the colours of the Robsart coat of arms of green and yellow

As for Robert and Amy, it must also be remembered the age in which they lived.

A knight [...] simply took the favour—the colours, a ribbon, or a handkerchief of the lady, as the case might be[...]. The wearing of a lady's sleeve, which must have been an honour greatly prized[...]. The dresses of ladies at that period were decorated with the arms of their families, so in each case would be of the "colours" of the lady, so that the sleeve and its colours would be quickly identified, as it was no doubt usually intended they should be. (A Complete Guide to Heraldry by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies)

Jousting is based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. It transformed into a specialised sport during the Late Middle Ages, and remained popular with the nobility in England and Wales, Germany and other parts of Europe throughout the whole of the 16th century. In England, jousting was the highlight of the Accession Day tilts of Elizabeth I and of James VI and I, and also was part of the festivities at the marriage of Charles I. 

Henry VIII was an eager jouster.

Putting aside the possible double meaning of both of their names for now, giroflée = karyophyllon = "nut-leaf" (the spice called clove, the association deriving from the flower's scent) = Oak = Robur, Robert

It could be Robert wearing his lady's colours.

Lysette Anthony as the Lady Rowena Receiving the Crown of Love and Beauty from Ivanhoe in Ivanhoe (1982)

The Robsart Crest

The Robsart crest was the Catherine wheel (or at least that was the crest of Amy Robsart's great-uncles Sir John Robsart and Sir Lewis Robsart – Sir Lewis Robessart, Lord Bourgchier | Westminster Abbey and Some Account of the Robsart Family) Several sources give the Robsart crest as the Catherine wheel, with our without a Saracen's head.

The head in the brooch could be a Saracen's head. The gold paint surrounding it could be a crown.

The Yale Miniature (detail)

St Catharine's College (Cambridge) – Gules a Catherine wheel Or

I cannot immediately see anything that could be a Catherine wheel, unless it is meant to be the spiky parts of the decoration of the border of the brooch, making the brooch itself the Catherine wheel. But those spiky details could simply be a part of the decoration of the border of the brooch.

In Letters of Horace Walpole to Horace Mann 1760–1785, Volume 4 by Horace Walpole we find the following illuminating sencence: 'On another shield is the Saracen's head, the crest of the family , but here the Catherine-wheel is above the cap, not on it ; having been so borne by the Robsarts, as appears from the tomb of Lodowic Robsart lord Bourchier in Westminster Abbey.'

There is possibly something blurry on the gold paint surrounding the head, without me being able to vouch for its thereabouts, but in either case it appears as if the Catherine wheel is supposed to be above the cap, not on it.

Unless it was there in real life, but not in the painting of it. The acorns probably weren't there in real life.

I am, however, leaning more and more towards seeing the 'head in agate' as a possible Saracen's head.

A Dictionary of Suffolk Crests: Heraldic Crests of Suffolk Families by Joan Corder, John Blatchly describes it thusly: «A man's bust in profile couped Proper with a long cap Gules on it a Catherine wheel Or. ROBSART, of Henham, Bulcamp. Davy. A»

I would say the figure in the brooch is definitely a bust. One can see the throat and the head and the upper torso clearly defined.

The Yale Miniature (detail)

The Saracen's Head – Pub Sign

Argent, three moor's heads couped at the shoulders proper filleted or and gules--TANNER

II. Crest. On a Wreath, the Bust of a Man side-faced, couped Proper; with a long cap, Gules, thereon a Catherine-Wheel. This crest belonged to the family of Robsart, and was given in honour of the memory of Sir John Robsart, Knight of the Garter, for his eminent services against the Saracens. (The British Plutarch, or Biographical Entertainer: Being a Select Collection of the Lives at Large of the Most Eminent Men, Natives of Great Britain ... To George II)

Another description mentions the bust of a saracen profile, 'ducally crowed'. (The Peerage Of The Nobility Of England, Scotland, And Ireland: Containing Their Titles, Date Of Their Creations, Arms, Crests, ... Together With Their ... Titles. And An Account Of The Kings) I am, however, inclined to believe that the gold surrounding the bust is perhaps not a crown, ducal of otherwise, but is one of the colours of the Robsart crest, Gules and Or. These are tinctures in heraldry which stand for red and gold. The brooch surrounding the cameo does appear to be done in red and gold.

Yet another source refers the Garter plate of Sir Lewis Robsart, 'a soldan's head crowned, and with a pointed cap issuing from the crown'. (A Complete Guide to Heraldry)

Stall Plate of Sir Reynold Cobham, Knight – A Soldan's Head with a Gold Wreath

Sir Miles Stapleton – lllustration by P. Page After the Garter Stall Plate – A Soldan's Head Sable a Torse Azure About the Brow

Sir Reynold Cobham, Knight – The Stall Plates of the Knights of the Order of the Garter, 1348-1485 (1901) Plate XXXII: "Now in the eighteenth stall, on the north side of the chapel. A quadrangular plate of gilt copper, with dagged edges, on which are represented the arms, gules on a chevron gold three estoiles sable, with silver helm garnished gold with a black mantling lined with red, and crest, a soldan's head with a gold wreath"

Sir Miles Stapleton – The Stall Plates of the Knights of the Order of the Garter, 1348-1485 (1901) Plate XXXIX: "Now in the seventeenth stall, on the south side of the quire. A small and thin quadrangular plate of gilt copper bearing a shield of the knight's arms, silver a lion sable, and a gilt helm covered with a black mantling lined red with gold branches, surmounted by the crest, a soldan's head sable with an azure twist about the brows." (lllustration by P. Page After the Garter Stall Plate – Norfolk Heraldry)

Sir William Willoughby, Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, Knight – The Stall Plates of the Knights of the Order of the Garter, 1348-1485 (1901) Plate XX: Now in the nineteenth stall, on the Sovereign's side. A cut-out plate in perfect order representing the arms, which are quarterly: 1 and 4, sable a cross engrailed gold (for Ufford); 2 and 3, gules a mill-iron or miller's cross silver (for Willoughby), with silvered helm and silver mantle with red lining branched with gold, and the crest, a soldan's head sable hair and crown gold. The crown is filled in with white enamel.

Sir William Willoughby, Lord Willoughby d'Eresby – A Soldan's Head Sable Hair and Crown Gold

The author of A Complete Guide to Heraldry connects the Robsart crest with that of the Bourchier crest, due to Sir Lewis Robsart's marriage into that family, but the crest of Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797),[8] who like Amy was descended from a different brother,[9][10][11] makes it clear that the rest of the family employed it also.

The arms of Walpole and Robsart were preserved on a stone slab at Houghton.[12] In addition to the coat of arms of Walpole, the coat of arms of Robsart can also be found in that of Oldbury Borough Council and Warley County Borough Council, as well as on a glass window in St. Martin's church in Houghton – Walpole quartering Robsart impaling unknown.

Arms, Crest and Motto of Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797)

Arms of Walpole and Robsart on a Stone Slab preserved at Houghton (print)

The crest of Horace Walpole shows us how miniscule the Catherine wheel would be.

It has puzzled me that the 'face in agate', the cameo of the brooch, was the opposite of the usual, which is a light face on a darker background.

This seems to have been the norm in Tudor times too:

The Barbor Jewel © The Victoria and Albert Museum

The setting of the Barbor jewel dates from c. 1615–1625, the cameo is said to be older and made for William Barbor (d. 1586), a Protestant. The tradition, apparently first recorded in 1724, says that he wanted to commemorate his escape from the stake thanks to the accession of Elizabeth I (1558–1603). (The Victoria and Albert Museum)

Elizabeth I – Cameo, c.1575–85; Setting From the Early 18th Century | RCIN 65186

Gold enamelled pendant, set with rubies and an onyx cameo portrait of Elizabeth I in profile. London, c.1575–1603

This cameo is in the British Museum, which dates to c.1575–1603. (‘Her Majesty’s Picture’: circulating a likeness of Elizabeth I)

According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, about 30 cameos of Queen Elizabeth survive, many apparently from the same workshop. (The Victoria and Albert Museum)

Compare these with the Drake Jewel:

The Drake Jewel

The 'head in agate' on the Lady in the Yale Miniature's brooch may have been dark precisely to denote skin colour.

For comparison sake's I include a portrait of Sir Francis Drake wearing the Drake Jewel. Elizabeth I gave the Drake Jewel to Sir Francis as a gift in the 1580's.

Sir Francis Drake wearing the Drake Jewel or Drake Pendant at his waist, 1591, by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

Sir Francis Drake wearing the Drake Jewel or Drake Pendant at his waist (detail)

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A marriage between a man whose badge was oak and a woman whose crest was a Saracen's head and red and gold, one half of the man's badge wearing the lady's colours of green and gold.

Giroflée ravenelle, Cheiranthus cheiri would also have been in bloom 18 years before, when Amy Robsart was born, on the 7th of June.

The Yale Miniature

The Beaufort Miniature

Called Lady Jane Grey

Second half of the second half of the 1550's

Levina Teerlinc

Watercolour on vellum applied to card

© Private Collection

The Beaufort Miniature


I believe the lady in the Beaufort Miniature is the same lady as the one in the Yale Miniature. 

If one compares each feature, there is the same pronounced snub nose and the same small mouth.

I believe both miniatures were painted by Levina Teerlinc, about a decade apart, of the same woman, Amy Robsart Dudley. On her wedding day Amy Robsart became the daughter-in-law of England’s Lord President of the Privy Council and would have been a likely client of the court painter Levina Teerlinc.

The second miniature, which Lee Porritt dates to the second half of the second half of the 1550's, I believe was painted after Elizabeth I Tudor became queen. She was known for letting people to whom she was otherwise unkind have access to her court painters and other painters. See Nicholas Hilliard's miniature of Mary, Queen of Scots and Levina Teerlinc's miniature of Lady Katherine Grey and her son while Lady Katherine Grey was in the Tower, for instance.

I suppose Elizabeth I Tudor was not precisely unkind towards Amy Robsart, apart from wanting her husband for herself, but then again, even today, many would consider that a very great unkindness indeed.

Elizabeth did not wish for Amy's presence at court, and perhaps not in London at all. However, according to Christine Hartweg in Amy Robsart: A Life and Its End in May 1559 Amy Dudley came to London for about a month. She was already ill from 'the malady of the breast'[13], a fact that the Spanish ambassador, Count de Feria had reported on the 18th of April 1559, and which would bother her for some time before her dramatic death.

The visit was probably done with the Queen's approval (Elizabeth had a tendency to relent before illness, see her treatment of Lady Margaret Douglas, Bess of Hardwick and partially Lady Katherine Grey), and it does not seem unlikely that the services of the court painter were lent out as an extra treat.

Levina Teerlinc could also have done a home visit while Amy Robsart was confined to the country, I suppose. Mary, Queen of Scots was certainly not in London with Elizabeth when Nicholas Hilliard visited her.

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The Yale Miniature

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Sadly, little is known about the provenance of the Yale Miniature. All that is known is that it was donated to Yale Center for British Art in 1966 by Paul Mellon (d.1999),[14] who had purchased it as a pair with the Portrait of a Man from Sotheby’s London in 1970 from the collection of Miss Dorothy Hutton.[15]

However, we know that the Beaufort Miniature was sold at Sotheby’s auction house, London, on 13th September 1983 as lot 90. It was was formerly held in the collection of Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort.[16]

If, as I suggest, Amy Robsart is the sitter of the Beaufort Miniature, two likely original owners are either Amy Robsart Dudley herself or her husband, Robert Dudley. After her death, Robert, as her widower, probably inherited all of her personal effects.

Likewise, after his death, most of Robert Dudley's personal effects were probably inherited by his widow, Lettice Knollys, his only legitimate child having predeceased him.

Lettice Knollys is the direct ancestress of Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort.[17]

Georgiana Charlotte (née Curzon), Duchess of Beaufort (1825–1906)

Georgiana Charlotte (née Curzon), Duchess of Beaufort


Unknown photographer

3 1/2 in. x 2 1/4 in. (89 mm x 57 mm) image size

National Portrait Gallery | NPG Ax196770


Georgiana Charlotte (née Curzon), Duchess of Beaufort (1825–1906), wife of the 8th Duke of Beaufort; daughter of 1st Earl Howe.

She was a direct descendant of Lettice Knollys, and the great-grandmother of Captain Henry Robert Somers FitzRoy de Vere Somerset (1898—1965), the grandfather of the current duke. Her great-grandson would have been eight at the time of her death.

She was the grandmother of the 10th Duke.[18]

A Recent Technical Analysis of the Yale Miniature

A recent technical analysis of the Yale Miniature has revealed that it was painted by the same hand as the one who painted the miniature of Henry VIII now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.19-1949): Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature, article by Polly Saltmarsh.

This is just as I suggested on our Portraits page.

When first I compared the Yale Miniature with the Beaufort Miniature I, like the author of the technical analysis saw '[t]he red hair and pale blue-grey eyes' of the sitter of the Yale Miniature, perfectly consistent with the red hair and the pale blue-grey eyes of the sitter in the Beaufort Miniature. 

Looking at the miniatures again, I became uncertain and instead saw what J. Stephan has written of the Yale Miniature: «The sitter’s hair appears a mousy brown with golden highlights».[19]

After careful consideration, I have concluded that the hair colour of the lady can be interpreted both ways, as is actually often the case with red-headed Tudor ladies.

I stand by my conclusion that the sitter in the two miniatures is the same woman.

I disagree with the author of the article on two points: She concludes that the painter was Lucas Horenbout and the sitter Mary I Tudor.

I disagree when it comes to both of these. 

Ann Longmore-Etheridge wrote of the work of Levina Teerlinc: '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.'[20]

Roy Strong, too, noted this trait in the work of a Tudor miniaturist and likewise attributes it to Levica Teerlinc.[21][22]

This trait appears in miniatures that can be conclusively dated to after Lucas Horenbout's death, like this fully authenticated portrait of Lady Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, another miniature dated 1549, also in the Victoria and Albert Museum, another miniature of Lady Katherine Grey in the collection of the Duke of Rutland, two miniatures called Elizabeth I Tudor in the Royal Collection, RCIN 420987 and RCIN 420944, and not to mention, the Beaufort Miniature itself.

As to the sitter being Mary I Tudor, I object for two reasons. Firstly, I cannot see the likeness to the authenticated portraits of Mary. However, a commenter to this site could, so that is subjective 😊

The second, entirely objective reason, is that I do not believe that the miniature dates to when Mary was 18. Mary I Tudor was was born in 1516, so she would have been in her 18th year in 1533–1534. The fashion of the 1530's and 1540's was similar enough that it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. However, I am reasonably certain that the French hood dates from the 1540's, not the 1530's. The cloth-covered piece of the crown is higher than you see in the French hoods of the 1530's. It is also leaning slightly more towards a square shape than the rounder ones of the 1530's. It is a type of French hood that can be seen on many portraits of Queen Katherine Parr, and on both her step-daughters, the portrait of Mary from 1544 and the portrait of Elizabeth from c.1546/7 shown above.

In fact, I cannot find a painting which features this type of French hood that predates Katherine Parr's time as Queen Consort, so I would date the miniature to some time after 1543 based on that alone.

There is however also the matter of the neckline – The sitter’s dress has a much wider square to its neckline than the narrower neckline Anne Boleyn is wearing in the Most Happi medal and Jane Seymour is wearing in her famous portrait by Holbein, and which was fashionable in the 1530’s. If you look at the Kunsthistorisches Museum portrait of Jane Seymour, which dates to c.1536–1537, you can see that the neckline is much narrower than in the Yale miniature, where the neckline is so wide that it is off the shoulder.

The same is the case for Anne Boleyn in the Most Happi medal, which is from 1534, precisely when Mary I Tudor would have been 18 years old.

This off-the-shoulder-neckline cannot be found on any of either Holbein’s portrait sketches or portraits of English ladies.

This leads me to believe that this fashion too originated with Katherine Parr, who does indeed display it, as do her step-daughters Elizabeth and Mary.

Holbein died shortly after Katherine Parr became Henry VIII’s sixth Queen.

This further cements the fact that the Yale miniature dates to after 1543.


[1] Starkey et al., Lost Faces, p. 82

[2] See Mark Laird and John H. Harvey, ‘A Cloth of Tissue of Divers Colours’: The English Flower Border, 1660-1735’, Garden History 21, no. 2 (Winter 1993): 188

[3] Sir Lewis Robessart, Lord Bourgchier | Westminster Abbey

[4] Ibid.

[5] The Robessart Tomb in Westminster Abbey by C R Humphery-Smith, FSA, FHS of l’Académie Internationale d’Héraldique

[6] Westmonasterium Or the History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peters Westminster, Volume 1, by John Dart

[7] «In the movie you referred to, they are portrayed as moving off to some country house of their own. That did not happen. It is documented that they lived with Guildford’s parents between their wedding on 21 May and Jane’s accession on 10 July.» Some Grey Matter – Questions and Answers About Lady Jane Grey

[8] British Armorial Bindings | University of Toronto Libraries

[9] They were both descendants of Sir Lewis Robessart’s brother, Sir John Robessart. «Sir Thierry Robessart married Elizabeth Cromwell, who died on 20th November 1535 and who is buried beside her husband. They had two sons, William and Sir John, and a daughter Lucy, who was buried at Houghton on 1st February 1559/60. Lucy married Edward Walpole, the son of Thomas Walpole of Houghton, Co. Norfolk, who was born in 1483 and who died 2nd January 1558/9.» Lucy Robsart Walpole was the sister of Amy's father Sir John Robsart. The Robessart Tomb in Westminster Abbey by C R Humphery-Smith, FSA, FHS of l’Académie Internationale d’Héraldique 

[10] A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland by John Burke and John Bernard Burke

[11] A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire by John Burke

[12] Arms of Walpole and Robsart on a Stone Slab preserved at Houghton (print) – Norfolk Museums Collections

[13] "está muy mala de un pecho" ("she is very ill in one breast"), in the original Spanish in the Spanish ambassador de Feria's original dispatch (Adams 1995 p. 63)

[14] J. Stephan Edwards, A Queen of a New Invention, p. 103 and p. 105

[15] «Portrait of an Unknown Lady was purchased by Paul Mellon as a pair with the Portrait of a Man, sold by Sotheby’s London, on 1 June 1970 from the collection of Miss Dorothy Hutton» – Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature, article by Polly Saltmarsh

[16] The Beaufort Miniature Portrait – Lady Jane Grey Revisited


Lettice Knollys (1543–1634) m. 1) Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex; 2) Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565–1601) m. Frances Walsingham

Frances Devereux (1599–1674) m. William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset

Henry Seymour, Lord Beauchamp (c.1626–1654) m. Mary Capell

Lady Elizabeth Seymour (c.1655–1697) m. Thomas Bruce, 2nd Earl of Ailesbury and 3rd Earl of Elgin

Lady Elizabeth Bruce (1689–1745) m. George Brudenell, 3rd Earl of Cardigan

Colonel the Hon. Robert Brudenell (1726–1768) m. Anne Bisshopp

Robert Brudenell, 6th Earl of Cardigan (1760–1837) m. Penelope Anne née Cooke

Harriet Georgiana Brudenell (1799–1836) m. Richard Curzon-Howe, 1st Earl Howe

Lady Georgiana Charlotte Curzon (1825–1906) m. Henry Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort

Lord Henry Richard Charles Somerset (1849–1932) m. Lady Isabella Caroline Somers-Cocks

Henry Charles Somers Augustus Somerset (1874–1945) m. Lady Katherine Beauclerk

Captain Henry Robert Somers FitzRoy de Vere Somerset (1898—1965) m. Bettine Violet Malcolm

David Robert Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort (1928–2017) m. Lady Caroline Jane Thynne

Henry John FitzRoy Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort (b. 22 May 1952)


18] Lee Porritt in The Beaufort Miniature Portrait – Lady Jane Grey Revisited specifies that the miniature came from the collection of the 12th Duke. The Victoria and Albert Museum, however, of a miniature sold from the same collection in the same sale writes: «Provenance: The Duke of Beaufort; Christie's 13 December 1983, Lot 91; Brian Pilkington.» The Duke of Beaufort in 1983 was the 10th Duke, Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset (4 April 1900 – 5 February 1984). For our purposes it amounts to the same, both the 10th and 12th Duke are direct descendants of Lettice Knollys through Lady Georgiana Charlotte Curzon (1825–1906), Duchess of Beaufort.

[19] The Yale Miniature Portrait by J. Stephan Edwards – Accessed 29.04.2014. As it appeared then

[20] Ann Longmore-Etheridge – Miniature of Katherine Parr, Queen of England

[21] Roy Strong, Artists of the Tudor Court: The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered, 1520–1620 (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983), 52–53; and Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, 58.

[22] Roy Strong, “Teerlinc, Levina (d. 1576)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).