The van de Passe engraving called Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey

I first became interested in this mystery because of the wonderful webside of J. Stephan Edwards at Some Grey Matter.

Before that I had been supremely uninterested in the matter, having the van de Passe engraving firmly entrenched in my mind as my image of Lady Jane Grey. 

Imagine my shock when I found out that it was in actually based on a picture of Katherine Parr instead!

Similar to what many of us have gone through, I am sure. Still, it piqued my interest. Who among us, after all, can resist a good mystery? 

And I must admit that bits and pieces of this theory have been floating around in my head for many years . 

After reading his excellent webside, I read his equally excellent book J. Stephan Edwards: A Queen of a New Invention : Portraits of Lady Jane Grey Dudley, England's Nine Days Queen.

Most recently, my interest was revived by Lee Porritt's website: Lady Jane Grey Revisited: Iconography of Lady Jane Grey

And it was there I found the missing pieces of the puzzle.

But, let us first begin with the Streatham Portrait.

Lady Jane Grey - The Streatham Portrait

Like for many of us, the Streatham Portrait was a dreadful disappointment to me. It could not in any way replace the loveliness of the van de Passe engraving as an image of Lady Jane Grey in my heart.

The head in the portrait is practically a spool head, like one you would find on an old-fashioned fashion doll.

American Girl's Felicity's Invitation & Fashion Doll

Two things, however, struck me about the portrait.

One was the remarkable resemblance between the dress of the lady in the Streatham Portrait and the dress Mary I Tudor wears in the famous portrait of her by Anthonis Mor, and especially in the copies thereof. 

The Streatham Portrait called Lady Jane Grey

Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor) (1516–1558, after Antonis Mor (Utrecht 1519 – Antwerp 1575)

A follower of Anthonis Mor, c.1555-58. This is an English copy of the famous portrait of Mary I Tudor by Anthonis Mor.

Mary Tudor, Queen of England, Second Wife of Philip II, by Anthonis Mor, 1554

Lady Jane Grey and Mary I Tudor – Great Montage by History of Royal Women

The Streatham Portrait called Lady Jane Grey (detail)

Mary I (1516-58) c.1550-1699 After Anthonis Mor

The below painting of Mary I Tudor features a brooch nearly identical to the one in the Streatham Portrait, and she is holding a book.

The lady's head could be Mary I Tudor's. There is nothing to signify that it isn't. But there is nothing to signify that it is, either. There is nothing of Mary I Tudor's characteristic features in the face of the Streatham lady.

However, undeterred, I kept examining every copy of the famous portrait of Mary I Tudor by Anthonis Mor that I came across. 

If I could find one where Mary's necklace had evolved into the scooped necklace of the Streatham Portrait, I thought, then I would have found the reference portrait, or the missing link, if you will, between a portrait that we know is of Mary I Tudor, and the Streatham Portrait.

However, of the many, many, many copies of the portrait of Mary I Tudor by Anthonis Mor that I looked at, not one had the distinctive scooped carcanet of the lady in the Streatham Portrait.

Another difference I noticed, is that in the portraits of Mary I Tudor she always has a high neckline, while the girl in the Streatham Portrait has a bare throat.

Simultaneously as I kept examining every copy of the famous painting of Mary I Tudor by Anthonis Mor I came across, I started at the other end – looking for portraits with the distinctive necklace.

Lady Elizabeth Pope, née Blount (c.1515–1593) (Trinity College, University of Oxford - Oxford, Oxfordshire UK)

Lady Elizabeth Pope, née Blount (c.1515–1593) (Trinity College, University of Oxford - Oxford, Oxfordshire UK) - Called Posthumous Painting of Mary I Tudor

Queen Mary I after Anthonis Mor – NPG 4174

The finding of this picture raised my hopes. Especially when I found what is clearly a copy of it labelled Posthumous Painting of Mary I Tudor. Perhaps the original painting had been mislabelled and was in fact a portrait Mary I Tudor?

These hopes proved to be utterly groundless when it became clear that the reason that the portrait of Lady Elizabeth Pope, née Blount (c.1515–1593) was at Trinity College at Oxford University in the first place was that her husband Thomas Pope founded Trinity College there. She was his third and last wife; he died childless. He was her second of three husbands; she also died childless. Trinity College was hardly likely to mistake the wife of their founder with Mary I Tudor.

Painting of Lady Elizabeth Pope, née Blount (c.1515–1593) at Trinity College -University of Oxford

Besides, the painting was only painted in 1612, a full twenty years after the Streatham Portrait. We can therefore safely rule it out as the reference portrait.

The mislabelling of the copy of the portrait of Lady Elizabeth Pope, née Blount (c.1515–1593) in the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University instead appears to be based on a similarity with NPG 4174.

The Fitzwilliam Portrait

Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney

Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney

With the Fitzwilliam Portrait of an Unknown Lady formerly called Mary I (perhaps Lady Jane Grey) c. 1550–55, we are in luck. The portrait has already been identified as both Queen Mary I Tudor and Lady Jane Grey, both identifications since dismissed.

Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney (c.1530-1586) – «Marks and inscriptions Lady Mary Dudley wife to Sir Henry Sidney (not contemporary but was found beneath a more modern inscription when the portrait was cleaned in 1962)» Besides, this lady is clearly too old to be Lady Jane Grey.

Katherine Parr - Philip Mould Gallery

Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of Elizabeth Tudor, the future Elizabeth I, Private Collection, tempera and oil on oak panel, 52 x 42 cm.

There is something sour and cross in the lady's expression in the Philip Mould Katherine Parr which does fit with our image of Mary and how she is portrayed. Any desire to replace the identification of this portrait of Katherine Parr with Mary I Tudor is, however, sadly thwarted by the fact that the painting is clearly inscribed CATHARINA REGINA VXOR HENRICI VIII. There is just no way in which that could refer to Henry VIII's daughter Mary instead. It could not even be any of his other wives named Katherine, because Katherine of Aragon and Katherine Howard had both passed away before the fashion of a square brim on the French hood had been introduced. It seems almost wrong and too late of a fashion for Katherine Parr too, and it is the only painting in which I have seen her wear one.

The second one I dismissed out of hand. It looked like a French poster, with the crayon blue background, the vintage kind. Her features were almost too regular, like the Anglesey Abbey fantasy portrait of Lady Jane Grey.

She almost didn't look like a real woman somehow, like the Anglesey Abbey Lady Jane Grey, and there was something odd about her eyes.

Much to my surprise it turned out that the lovely old print that I had fondly imagined hanging on the wall of some chic little apartment in Paris as people lounged about with evening cocktails listening to the grammophone, was an actual painting called Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of Elizabeth Tudor, the future Elizabeth I, Private Collection, tempera and oil on oak panel, 52 x 42 cm.

The family that owns the painting is clearly fond of it, because they have had dendrochronological testing done on it, and the panel dates to 1542.


French Vintage Poster

1930’s Fashion

The Houghton Portrait

A beautiful colour photograph of this painting can be seen p. 54 of the book A Queen of a New Invention by J. Stephan Edwards.

J.Stephan Edwards believes this painting, the Houghton Portrait, to be a direct copy of the Streatham Portrait.[1]

However, Lee Porritt raises an interesting point: «From the image this portrait appears to have been created by a different artist than that who produced the Streatham portrait, the shading and definition of the facial feature appear to be of a finer quality than that seen in the NPG copy which suggest a possible pattern used within a workshop to create multiple copies by different artists.»

So instead of a direct copy it could be a case of both portraits being created from the same pattern used within the workshop.

The Houghton Portrait

The Norris Portrait

In 1931 this painting belonged to Herbert Norris (d.1950), who had acquired the picture from an unnamed ‘friend’ who had in turn purchased the portrait from an unidentified ‘picture shop’ in 1870.[2]

It is inscribed: ‘LADYE JANE GRAY, DIED 1553 AET 17’


In his volume on Tudor costume published in 1938, The Tudors, Volume 3 of Costume and Fashion, Herbert Norris included a watercolour illustration of Lady Jane Grey, plate XXIV, that was based directly on the Norris Portrait.

Fill in later

The Dauntsey Portrait, probably the same as the Magdalene Portrait, called Jane Shore

Jane Shore – Penrhyn Castle. National Trust

Fair Rosamund – Priory Fine Art

Jane Shore – Powys Castle

Jane Shore – Chirk Castle, Wrexham, Wales, National Trust

Fair Rosamund – Palace of Holyroodhouse

Rosamund Clifford (before 1150–c.1176), Mistress of Henry II – Ferens Art Gallery

Jane Shore – Penrhyn Castle, National Trust

Fair Rosamund – Priory Fine Art – An extremely fine early 18th century half length portrait of Rosamund Clifford - the famous 12th century beauty and mistress of King Henry II. The painting is a wonderful example of the portraits of the 18th century English school, the subject most attractive. The painting is inscribed 'Rosamond de Clifford' upper right, the frame with a plaque lower center which again identifies the subject of the painting.

Jane Shore – Powys Castle, National Trust – "Jane Shore". 1978 listed as "Rosamund Clifford". From A Guide to the Pictures at Powis Castle by Dr Peter Moore (36) British School Jane Shore (d.1527), early 18th century. NT1180920. Jane Shore was one of the many mistresses of King Edward IV of England. Through her liaisons with the king and several other prominent courtiers she became entangled in the political intrigues that led to the usurpation of Richard III and the revival of civil war in the 1480s. As Thomas More noted in his History of King Richard III (c.1513): ‘... she delighted not men so much in her beauty as in her pleasant behaviour. For a proper wit had she, and could both read well and write, merry in company, ready and quick of answer, neither mute nor full of babble, sometimes taunting without displeasure, and not without play.’ Jane later became a recognised penitent, and in the early eighteenth century, the image of her in this guise was a popular subject. There are similar versions of this painting, from the same period, at Penrhyn Castle and Chirk Castle.

Jane Shore – Chirk Castle, Wrexham, Wales, National Trust – Jane Shore (c.1450 - 1526/7), Mistress of Edward IV – Oil painting on canvas, 'Jane Shore' (c. 1450 - c.1526/27), Mistress of Edward IV, English School, early 18th century. A half-length portrait to left, in medieval costume with high ruff collar, veil with pearl earrings, ermine trimmed dress, in hybrid costume of c. 1545-1555, looking down, transparent veil over her head, in a V-shaped ruff, embroidered panels on her upper breast; ermine edging to these and down her front. Two palm fronds emerge from the scroll of a cartouche below. Copied from a 16th century portrait; other versions in Royal Collection and Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. Other versions at Powis and Penrhyn.

Fair Rosamund – Palace of Holyroodhouse – This is a portrait painted in c. 1720 of a Romantic heroine. It was described as 'Fair Rosamond' in the Queen's Dressing Room at Kensington in 1734 and as 'Rosamond Clifford' (mistress of Henry II) in the Kensington inventory of 1818. It has also been identified as depicting Lady Jane Grey. The sitter appears in imaginary historical costume of a vaguely Tudor flavour, the collar with a narrow ermine edge. With a small pearl strand in her hair and large drop earrings. Provenance: Possibly first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of George II

Rosamund Clifford (before 1150–c.1176), Mistress of Henry II – Ferens Art Gallery

Called Princess Elizabeth Tudor, by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1542

The Portrait

The portrait depicts a young woman standing before a plain blue background and facing slightly to her proper right. Her eyes are brown, and her hair is auburn. She wears her hair in the most common manner of the Tudor period, parted in the center and swept back to cover the ears. The nose is straight. On her head she wears a French hood of crimson satin with a flattened crown arch. The upper and nether billiment of the hood contain numerous small pearls set in goldwork. The lady is dressed in black gown, with what may be a black partlet across the shoulders, with a standing open collar overlaid with a white lining that is heavily embroidered with blackwork. The jewels, other than those on the French hood, consist of a festooned pearl necklace and a large brooch affixed to the upper bodice. The brooch itself appears to be a cameo picturing the Judgement of Paris.

Lady Jane Grey?

This is obviously the painting the engraving is based on.

Now, ironically, Lady Jane Grey is practically the only identity I have not seen assigned to this painting.

Henry Pierce Bone called it Anne Boleyn when he painted copies on enamel of it in 1812, 1835 and in 1843.

Alison Weir claimed that it was actually Katherine Parr in 2011.

Most recently it has been known as Elizabeth I when a Princess.

I myself have considered both Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard as the sitter of the mysterious portrait, and rejected them both on the same grounds: The French hood is simply of a later style than either of them would live to wear.

Allow me to make the suggestion now.

This might actually be Lady Jane Grey.

Called Anne Boleyn (1507-1536). Signed and dated 1843

Called Anne Boleyn (1507-1536) Signed and dated 1835

Called Anne Boleyn (1507-1536) Signed and dated 1812

'The details of the costume, especially the horizontal line of the crown of the French hood and the standing collar of the partlet with its extensive blackwork embroidery, seem to date the painting to the 1550s.'[3] 'The lady's costume is datable to the period between 1545 and 1555, the general period during which' any life portrait of Lady Jane Grey is most likely to have been commissioned. 'The standing collar on the partlet with its rich blackwork embroidery can be seen in numerous portraits firmly dated to that period, especially portraits of Queen Mary Tudor.'[4]

Lady Jane Grey - The Syon Portrait (detail)

Thanks to J. Stephan Edwards's excellent book, A Queen of a New Invention, we do have some clues as to how Lady Jane Grey looked like. This portrait was commissioned by her great-nephew, the grandson of her sister, Lady Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford. At the time, his grandfather, Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and widower of Lady Katherine Grey, was still alive. He was a contemporary of Lady Jane Grey and would have known her well. Their fathers were active together at the court of Edward VI. They were even considered potential marriage partners for each other. The portrait was probably based on a portrait of Lady Katherine Seymour and then tweaked to get Lady Jane Grey's characteristics.[5] From it we can gather that Lady Jane Grey had auburn hair, brown eyes and a cleft in her chin like her grandmother Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset and her great-aunt Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford.

There is also something odd about her eyes, something which I put down to the bad technique of the painter.

I was clearly not the only one to make that judgement. Because in a later copy of the painting called the Audley End Portrait, which was commissioned by a later generation of the descendants of Lady Jane Grey's family – after her appearance had gone out living memory – this has been rectified.[6]

Comparing it to the Duckett painting, however, I am now inclined to believe that she may actually have had a problem with her eyes.

I do not know the treatment for cross-eyes in Tudor times nor its success rate. Today it is cured with an eyepatch over the healthy eye forcing the other one to focus. That does seem like a treatment that would have been possible back then as well. But I do not know if this is a method that was known back then, nor if it is always 100 % successful. But the fact is that both portraits have subjects that appear slightly cross-eyed, a curious coincidence.

The auburn hair and the brown eyes match. At first glance, it does not appear as if the lady in the Duckett Portrait has a cleft in her chin. It is a bit difficult to ascertain, however, because of the style of the painter and how he or she has shadowed her jawline. In the engraving however, there is something that could be a cleft in her chin. If that is the case, it is, if not proof positive, a pretty strong indication that we are on the right track.

Lady Jane Grey - The Audley End Copy of The Syon Portrait

Blank space

The Lady Jane Grey Paperdoll – Coronation Outfit


The Rotherwas - Minneapolis Portrait sometimes identified as Lady Jane Grey

Published in Herbert Norris's volume on Tudor costume in 1938. Watercolour illustration of Lady Jane Grey. Based directly on the Norris Portrait

The Rotherwas - Minneapolis Portrait sometimes identified as Lady Jane Grey

The Lady Jane Grey Paperdoll - A mixture of the two

Herbert Norris's watercolour illustration of Lady Jane Grey from 1938

The artist of the lovely little paperdoll has clearly based the outline of this particular outfit on the Rotherwas - Minneapolis Portrait sometimes identified as Lady Jane Grey. The little paperdoll is holding a little book, just like the lady in the Rotherwas Portrait does, the jewellery of the little paperdoll is identical to jewellery of the lady in the Rotherwas Portrait, the French hood, the collar and the precise outline of the figure and the outfit all match.

But then, perhaps because the artist felt that the unending black would be too dour, or because the portrait does not show the full length either of the skirt or the lady, the artist has supplemented with another dress – in this case Herbert Norris's watercolour illustration of Lady Jane Grey from 1938 – to create an appropriate and attractive gown for Lady Jane Grey that would be pleasing to the viewer.

My suggestion is that 400 years ago somebody did the exact same thing.

Mary Tudor head with Katherine Parr body and Princess Elizabeth background

Lot 37: Manner of Guillim Scrots – Portrait of a unknown lady, three-quarter-length, with closed bible to her left



Oil on panel Bears manuscript pen and ink label on reverse inscribed Anne Boleyn, (after) Holbein 64 x 48 cm. (25 1/4 x 19 in) Provenance: Private collection, Scotland. Giullim Scrot's portrait of a Young Elizabeth I (Windsor Castle, The Royal Collection) would appear to be a direct influence on the present work, with noticeable similarites in both composition and the sitters clothing. Similarly, the placement and composition of the hands in the portrait of Katherine Parr in the Melton Constable Portrait (formerly mistaken as Jane Grey), seem to have also been utilised in reverse.» Invaluable

Perfect example of a miss match portrait. This portrait has the head of Mary Tudor, with the body of Katherine Parr and the background from Elizabeth when a Princess by William Scrots.

Jane Seymour

In addition, in portrait sets one will often see that the painters have 'borrowed' jewellery from one lady to give to another. In this portrait set painting of Jane Seymour, she too is wearing Mary I Tudor's famous brooch.

Queen Mary I Tudor After Antonis Mor

The Streatham Portrait of Lady Jane Grey - A mixture of the two

Lady Jane Grey - The Duckett Painting

The Wikipedia article about the Streatham Portrait references this statement from J. Stephan Edwards:

'There are, however, certain questions that arise from the costume. The partlet lining is embroidered along the edge with fleur-de-lis. That design served as a heraldic emblem for the Crown of France. And while the English monarchs of the Tudor period also laid nominal claim to the crown of France, and Jane’s grandmother was briefly Queen Consort of France, the right to bear those emblems was limited in law. Jane was not, prior to June 1553, herself an heir to the throne of England, and thus would have had no right to the French heraldic emblems. Their usage in this portrait is, to me, a reason to question an identification of the sitter as Jane Grey, though not an insurmountable one.'

It would on the other hand make perfect sense if the dress was lifted wholesale from an already existing pattern in the workshop of the dress from a portrait of Queen Mary I Tudor, an English monarch of the Tudor period who indeed laid nominal claim to the crown of France.

The copyists would have known that naturally Queen Mary I Tudor and Lady Jane Grey lived at the same time, so faced with a request or a market for full-length portraits of Lady Jane Grey, and in possession of only a half-length pattern (the Duckett painting), it would be "safe", period-wise and in terms of historical correctness to give Lady Jane Grey Queen Mary I Tudor's dress.

Even if the meaning of the fleur-de-lis was known to the copyists in the workshop, as it might very well have been, it is doubtful that it would have given them pause. Lady Jane Grey, as an English monarch of the Tudor period would have laid nominal claim to the crown of France. It is just doubtful that in the short and chaotic time of nine days that she was actually queen that any portrait could have been commissioned or completed. She probably wouldn't have had the time to order and have completed even a dress with the fleur-de-lis symbol on it in that timespan.

So to a copyist familiar with the fleur-de-lis symbol and its importance and meaning to a Tudor monarch, it would have probably, if anything, made the dress even more appropriate for portraying a Queen Jane.

Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor) (1516–1558), after Antonis Mor (Utrecht 1519 – Antwerp 1575) (detail)

It has been made note of that the lady in the Streatham Portrait does not wear a wedding ring. I do not believe that this is a reflection on Lady Jane Grey's married status at the time of the painting of the reference portrait. Rather, that it is because the lady in NT 485115, the copy of Queen Mary I Tudor after Antonis Mor most resembling the dress in the Streatham Portrait, is not wearing any rings.

Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor) (1516–1558) after Antonis Mor (Utrecht 1519 – Antwerp 1575), Petworth House and Park, West Sussex – National Trust.

The original painting of Mary Tudor, Queen of England, Second Wife of Philip II by Anthonis Mor is at the Museo del Prado.

From the same Wikipedia article:

'After the discovery of an inscribed portrait of Katherine Parr, in 2014 Edwards published a tentative identification of said painting as the original on which the Streatham portrait was based. He wrote that the Parr painting had been "adapted to 'become' Jane Grey in the absence of an accessible authentic portrait" in the Streatham portrait and similar, supporting this with an analysis of the similar styles of dress and the jewellery (including a necklace of festooned pearls).'

My suggestion is that it was the other way around. A painting of Lady Jane Grey was adapted to 'become' Katherine Parr in the absence of an accessible authentic portrait.

Katherine Parr

Anne Boleyn

The fact that the resulting painting did not become, perhaps, very attractive, may account for why this is such a rare image of Queen Katherine Parr, instead of the multiple copies we have of this kind of Anne Boleyn. The workshop copyists seem to instead have favoured the Northwick Park Portrait of Katherine Parr-style paintings for their sets, intuitively sensing or statistically seeing that they sold better.


Katherine Parr – A Northwick Park Portrait Style Set Portrait

Katherine Parr – The Northwick Park Portrait

EDITED TO ADD 14.06.2022

After reading Portrait Sets in Tudor and Jacobean England – Two Volumes (Volume One) by Catherine Daunt, there does in fact appear to have been an absence of an accessible authentic portrait of Katherine Parr.

None of the portrait sets examined by Catherine Dauntley include a portrait of Katherine Parr.

Of course, today we have several portraits of Katherine Parr, see our Katherine Parr page. The Lumley Collection had one, the Northwick Portrait shown above, but the Lumley Collection included several portraits of figures of historical interests, Margaret of Anjou, Jane Shore, Geoffrey Chaucer, of which there are no known copies, suggesting that the Lumley Collection was not open to the copyists of the work shops.

In fact, the Philip Mould Katherine Parr is the only known painting of Katherine Parr which we know ever belonged to a portrait set, further strengthening the suggestion that the portrait was based on the image of someone else, which in lieu of an authentic, accessible portrait of Katherine Parr was converted into a likeness of her.

The Streatham Portrait (detail)

Lady Jane Grey - The Duckett Portrait

Perhaps the artist of the Streatham Portrait was not quite so bad as we all imagined? 🙂

Because I can actually see a resemblance.

The strong jaw of the lady in the Duckett Portrait translates to the spool-like headshape of the woman in the Streatham Portrait.

The lady in the Streatham Portrait does however lack the pointy chin of the lady in the Duckett Portrait. The lady in the Norris Portrait, however, has her pointy chin.

The Norris Portrait

Lady Jane Grey – The Norris Portrait – Montage

All right, so far, so good. We have a portrait of a girl in the precise fashions of Lady Jane Grey's youth. We have an engraving in the Royal Collection, dated c. 1700-1800, called Ieanne Grey, which is clearly based on this portrait, another version of it, or a copy. We have my (possibly subjective) opinion that the lady in the Duckett Portrait bears a certain resemblance to the lady in the Streatham Portrait, a portrait that bears the inscription Lady Jayne. We have my theory that the person who painted the Streatham Portrait or created the pattern for it 'borrowed' Queen Mary I Tudor's scarlet dress complete with Queen Mary I Tudor's jewellery, the famous brooch with La Peregrina, to create a full-length portrait, while keeping Lady Jane Grey's actual features and the distinctive necklace. We must also remember that Queen Mary I Tudor's own dress was black (or of a very dark colour) in the original painting by Anthonis Mor. The decision to change the colour of her dress in many of the resulting copies of the famous portrait in itself implies a conscious decision of the workshops.

But what about the provenance of the portrait? All that good stuff?

For 300 years, it was owned by [...] Sir Lionel Duckett, and his family. In 1832, it was put on sale in London with the rest of Sir George Duckett’s collection, and sold to Sir Joseph Neeld of Grittleton House near Chippenham Wiltshire. In 1851, it was described in the Grittleton catalogue as ‘the portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn’.

Who then, was Sir Lionel Duckett? 

Lionel Duckett (1511 – August 1587) was one of the Merchant adventurers of the City of London. He was four times Master of the Mercers' Company, and Lord Mayor of London (1572).

He became enormously wealthy through his trading. He subscribed to Martin Frobisher's three voyages in search of the North-West Passage and to John Hawkins' voyage of 1562 which led to the formation of the Africa Company. In 1553, he acquired monastic and chantry lands in Surrey, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. In 1556, he also acquired lands in Somerset and Devon. In 1572, he bought the manor of Calne, Wiltshire. He later acquired property in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Kent. In 1565 he served as a Sheriff of London. In 1566, he also became Master of the Mercers' Company - a position he also held in 1571, 1577, and 1583. In 1572-73 he was Lord Mayor of London. He died in August 1587 and his will was proved on 20 February 1588.

He married twice. Firstly to Mary Leighton, by whom he had a short-lived son, George Duckett, and secondly to Jane Baskerville, (née Pakington, the widow of Humphrey Baskerville), on 29 June 1564 at St Peter, Westcheap, by whom he had a son Thomas Duckett (1566-1608).

All right. That doesn't actually make us all that much wiser. It tells us that he would have had the means to acquire the portrait if he so wished. But why would he want a picture of Lady Jane Grey? And how can we even be sure that if he should have acquired a portrait of her, believing it to be Lady Jane Grey, that it was actually her?

Well, as it turns out, our Lionel Duckett was a reformer.

«The Packington and Duckett families were in turn related by marriage and also associated with reform early on. Duckett, for example, served his apprenticeship in the Mercers under John Colet and was the lord mayor in 1573 responsible for banning excessive feasting and encouraging godly moderation.» Faith and Fraternity: London Livery Companies and The Reformation 1510-1603 by Laura Branch

Foxe's Book of Martyrs, a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on England and Scotland, was published in 1563. It was enormously popular and would catapult poor little Lady Jane Grey to fame.

A secondary motive for displaying a portrait of the Protestant icon Lady Jane Grey on his wall might have been to demonstrate his loyalty to the Protestant Elizabeth against her Catholic enemies. I can imagine that the richer and the more powerful he became the more important it would be to display that he had his loyalties in all the right places and no interest to pose a threat to the ruling order.

That Elizabeth's own feelings towards her cousin might have been slightly more complicated than 'Protestant heroine' would probably not have been known to Sir Lionel Duckett. He did not have access to Leanda de Lisle's excellent The Sisters Who Would Be Queen.

In February 1570, Pope Pius V declared that Elizabeth was a heretic and, as such, she was excommunicated by way of a Papal Bull (order), Regnans in Excelsis. The Bull released Catholics from any loyalty to Elizabeth and called upon them to remove her from the throne, thus making the life of his British subjects that much harder.

This papal bull made both the lives of the Queen and her subjects much more dangerous.

All right, so Lionel Duckett may very well have had the means and the interest to possess a portrait of Lady Jane Grey. That's all good and well. But what about opportunity?

It wasn't as if portraits of Lady Jane Grey were exactly thick on the ground in this period. In fact, we only know of two that with any certainty can be said to be of her and that belonged to people who knew her. One hung in 1566 in the bedchamber of Bess of Hardwick, a long-time friend of the family, and another was in the Lumley collection in 1590. John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (c.1533–1609), to whom the collection belonged, was Jane's contemporary and married to her first cousin Jane FitzAlan, Baroness Lumley (1537–1578). There were for a time some confusion whether or not there were one or two portraits of Lady Jane Grey in the Lumley collection, but thanks to J. Stephan Edwards's research into and clarifications regarding the matter it is now clear that there was only ever one portrait of Lady Jane Grey inventoried in the Lumley collection, however, a half-length.

And it was here that I discovered something amazing.

Actually, I discovered two amazing things. But first things first:

«Investors flocked to buy shares. In all, 201 people invested in the new company – 199 men and two women, widows who probably inherited their stake from their merchand husbands. The merchands were dominant, and they included not only the principal doers – Sir George Barne and William Garrard – but also Sir Andrew Judde and his son-in-law, Thomas Smythe; Thomas Gresham and his uncle, Sir John; Lionel Duckett, Gresham's business partner and Thomas Lok, a Gresham family associate; and Sir John York, who had helped conduct the revaluation of the coinage just a few years earlier. Among the noblemen on list of investors were Henry FitzAlan, the Earl of Arundel, who was lord steward of the royal household; John Russell, Earl of Bedford, who was lord keeper of the privy seal; William Howard, baron Howard of Effingham, who was lord high admiral; and William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, who was lord high treasurer. Henry Sidney and William Cecil were also investors. Although they had been close to John Dudley and supported Lady Jane Grey's succession, they had saved themselves and their positions through political cunning.» New World, Inc.: The Story of the British Empire’s Most Successful Start-Up by John Butman and Simon Targett

Lionel Duckett was in a business venture with Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel. Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel, was the father of the afore-mentioned Jane FitzAlan. He was Lady Jane Grey's uncle by marriage.

The Lumley collection included portraits of 196 contemporary sitters, and (unlike most inventories of the period) often named the painter. This collection included a portrait of ‘The Lady Jane Graye executed’. John Lumley acquired the nucleus of the Lumley collection from his father-in-law, Henry Fitzalan, 19th Earl of Arundel.

So we now have a direct link between Lionel Duckett and Lady Jane Grey's uncle, her family and also the man who either himself or his son-in-law owned one of the two paintings of Lady Jane Grey that we know actually existed.

Wait. It gets better.


Jane Packington was the daughter of Humphrey Packington (1502-1556), a mercer, and Elizabeth Harding (d. September 27, 1563). On January 15, 1541 at St. Michael Bassishaw, London, Jane married Humphrey Baskerville or Baskerfield of Wolverley, Worcestershire (d. March 1564), a mercer and alderman. Their children, baptized between 1544 and 1561, were Elizabeth, Humphrey, Angelica, Sarah, Mary, Richard, Anne (March 10, 1559-May 14, 1622), and Martha. Another child was born posthumously. Baskerville left Jane a very wealthy widow. In his will, written September 1, 1563, he also appointed guardians from among his fellow mercers and relatives for his minor children. Anne and Martha were to go to Richard Hollyman, Humphrey to Thomas Heaton, Angell to William Leonard, Richard to John Jackson, and Sarah to Harry Hungate, who was married to Elizabeth and received £200 as her dowry. Jane was to bring up “the childe she nowe goeth withall.” On June 29, 1564 at St. Peter West Cheap, Jane married Lionel Duckett (1511-August 1587), another mercer and Lord Mayor of London in 1572-3. They had a son, Thomas (1566-c.1608), who was his father’s heir, the only child of a first marriage having died young. At the time his father died, Thomas was out of favor for marrying against his wishes. Jane died between September 8, 1589 and February 4, 1590. Jane Packington – A Who's Who of Tudor Women

Jane Pakington, Lionel Duckett's second wife and the mother of his heir, was the daughter of Humphrey Pakington. Humphrey Pakington was the brother of Sir John Pakington. Sir John Pakington had by his wife Anne Dacres two daughters, Ursula (d.1558), who married William Scudamore and Bridget, who married Sir John Lyttelton of Frankley, Worcestershire. Sir John Lyttelton and Bridget Pakington had a daughter, Elizabeth Lyttelton (1546 – 4 June 1594), who in 1564 married Sir Francis Willoughby (d. 16 November 1596) of Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire. Sir Francis Willoughby of Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire was Lady Jane Grey's first cousin.

Lionel Duckett's wife was the cousin of the wife of the cousin of Lady Jane Grey.

Not only that, but both couples, Lionel Duckett and his wife, and Sir Francis Willoughby and his wife Elizabeth Lyttelton, were married in the same year, 1564, one year after Foxe's Book of Martyrs was published.

The Pakington family was a close one. (Faith and Fraternity: London Livery Companies and The Reformation 1510-1603 by Laura Branch) So had the Grey family been until the fall of Queen Jane Grey.

It is therefore supremely unlikely that Lionel Duckett would have had a portrait on his wall of someone purporting to be Lady Jane Grey without it actually looking like her.

Sir Francis Willoughby, Lady Jane Grey's Cousin

Elizabeth Lyttelton, Lady Willoughby, His Wife and Lionel Duckett's Wife's Cousin

But, surely, that's it, right? I mean, it's been five hundred years. Even if Sir Lionel Duckett had been close with more of Jane's nearest and dearest, which in itself is an extraordinary expectation considering that we have two provable links already, surely we couldn't expect to find proof of that, right?

Well, actually, it's funny you should say that.

Item to Branden skryvener for the drawing and writing of the bonnds betwixt your lordship and Lyonell Ducket vjs ijd.272

272 (Sir) Lionel Duckett (d.1587), mercer, common councillor from 1558, alderman from 1564, and lord mayor 1572–3. The subject of this bond is unclear, for no loan from Duckett is recorded in this account.

The above quote is from the household accounts of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He was Lady Jane Grey's brother-in-law as the brother of her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley. Guildford was executed alongside Jane.

Household Accounts and Disbursement Books of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester: by Robert Dudley

The above quote shows that there was contact between Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Lady Jane Grey's brother-in-law, and Sir Lionel Duckett as early as 1560.

... of two London merchants, Sir Thomas Gresham and Lionel Duckett. In October 1562, a sixthousand-strong English military force, led by Ambrose Dudley – New World, Inc.: The Making of America by England's Merchant Adventurers by John Butman, Simon Targett

Ambrose Dudley was the elder brother of Robert Dudley and Guildford Dudley, and also Lady Jane Grey's brother-in-law. The brother in between Ambrose Dudley and Robert Dudley, Henry, was married to Lady Jane Grey's first cousin, Margaret Audley, but he had been killed in the Battle of St. Quentin in 1557.

Sir Thomas Gresham was the one who was tasked with holding Lady Jane Grey’s sister Lady Mary Grey Keyes in custody from 1569 to 1572 by Queen Elizabeth I after her marriage contracted without royal consent.

Sir Lionel Duckett was one the overseers of his will. «And to this my last will I do ordeyne my welbelovyd wiffe dame Anne Gresham to be my sole executrix, and my overseers Sir Lyonell Duckatt knight, Edmund Hogan, Thomas Celie, and Philipp Schudamore, and Mr. Justice Manwood. d And I doe give to Sir Lyonell Dockatt for his paynnes one hundreath poundes.» The Will of Sir Thomas Gresham 1575

Society of Mines Royal

The Society of the Mines Royal was one of two English mining monopoly companies incorporated by royal charter in 1568, the other being the Company of Mineral and Battery Works. On 28 May 1568 Elizabeth I established the Society by letters patent as a joint stock company with 24 shareholders.

Three of these 24 shareholders were:

• Sir William Cecil

• Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester

• Lionel Duckett, alderman

Admiral Sir John Hawkins

Soon after 1560, John Hawkins had moved to London and, after marrying the daughter of the Treasury of the Navy, formed a syndicate of wealthy merchants and officials including Sir Lionel Duckett and Sir Thomas Lodge, who were already engaged in Gold Coast trade, Benjamin Gonson and Sir William Winter (d. 1589). This syndicate's period of activity may mark the time when a nexus of interest strengthened - between "naval men" and merchant-slavers. By 1564, John Hawkins' patrons included Robert Dudley, Earl Leicester and Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. He had backers including Sir Lionel Duckett, Sir Thomas Lodge and Sir William Winter, his own father-in-law Benjamin Gonson.

Michael Lok’s accounts concern the three voyages made by Martin Frobisher (1535?- 1594) to Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic in the years 1576-1578.

Amongst the investors we find:

• Cecil, William (1520/21-1598), 1st Baron Burghley

• Duckett, Sir Lionel (d. 1587)

• Dudley, Ambrose (c.1530-1590), Earl of Warwick

• Dudley [nee Russell], Anne, Countess of Warwick (1548/9–1604)

• Dudley, Robert (1532/3-1588), Earl of Leicester

Anne Dudley (née Russell), Countess of Warwick (1548/1549 – 9 February 1604) was an English noblewoman, and a lady-in-waiting and close friend of Elizabeth I. She was the third wife of Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick.

As we can see, the links between Sir Lionel Duckett and the people who had known Jane well were plentiful and strong. Logic dictates that if Sir Lionel wished to acquire and believed himself to be in possession of a painting of Lady Jane Grey, it was the real thing.

The Duckett Portrait

As aforementioned, dendrochronological testing showed that the panel of the Duckett Portrait dates to 1542.

Further technical analysis was undertaken:

«Dr Libby Sheldon of University College, London, analysed its pigments and materials. To cut a long story short, the painting materials in the portrait were found to be consistent with other works by Holbein, including the Lady with a Squirrel and Starling, in the National Gallery, London. Interestingly, the blue pigment azurite, which a NG Technical Bulletin says was “a standard pigment of German artists in particular” was detectable in both. To the uninitiated it might look like lapis lazuli or ultramarine, and in fact the two were often confused, since lapis lazula was a term applied to many blue pigments. However, azurite was also in demand; research has shown that azurite was used more in the past, especially in medieval times. It;s interesting to speculate why Holbein and other German artists favoured this blue rather than others.» Art History Today: Hans Holbein

The Weiss Gallery notes about azurite:

«It is also worth noting the double layer of azurite, the highly expensive blue pigment used for the background. Often found in Holbein’s portraits and those of his contemporaries, its cost meant that it was only used for significant commissions whereas in copies or lesser works, it invariably was replaced with cheaper, less stable alternatives.» Lady Alice More (c.1474 - c.1551) – The Weiss Gallery

From Art History Today

J. Stephan Edwards uses the following formula in regards to another painting – a smaller copy of the Syon Portrait above, also held at Syon House: «Examination of the growth rings in the wood of that smaller panel revealed that the last complete heartwood growth ring corresponds to the year 1618. When the standard minimum of 8 years is added to account for lost sapwood, plus the minimum 2 years for processing and storage, the earliest point at which the smaller copy may have been produced is 1629, the tree having been felled in the year after any last complete growth ring.» p. 170–171.

In other words, if the panel is dateable to 1542, a likely time for the Duckett Portrait to have been painted is 1553, in short exactly when a painting of Lady Jane Grey would have been very likely to have been painted as she was to be married, or had just become married to Lord Guildford Dudley, and when she would have been at the exact age of the girl in the painting, who appears to be in her teens.

I have considered the possibility of the Duckett Portrait being a copy, commissioned by Sir Lionel Duckett from somebody else's portrait of Lady Jane Grey. However, analysis of the pigments and materials of the painting have revealed the use of the blue pigment azurite. According to the Weiss Gallery, azurite was never used for copies. Its cost meant that it was only used for significant commissions whereas in copies or lesser works, it invariably was replaced with cheaper, less stable alternatives.

So we could actually be looking at an ad vivum, painted from life, portrait of Lady Jane Grey.

Of the sparse physical descriptions we have of Lady Jane Grey, in the one we have that actually describes a complete outfit of hers she is wearing a French hood. In both instances in which details of her gown is recorded it is described as black.

And we know that she was in possession of a pearl necklace, because she was given one as a present by her cousin the Princess Mary.

gyven to my cousyn Jane graye. Item an other lace for the nekke of gold smythworke set with small ples xxxijti.

Privy Purse Expenses of the Princess Mary, Daughter of King Henry the Eighth, Afterwards Queen ... by Frederic Madden

A little necklace for the neck that the executioner was to sever.

The Anne Boleyn Files – Lady Jane Grey’s Execution

Lady Jane Grey - The Duckett Portrait (detail) – The Brooch

«The large round bodice brooch depicts the Judgment of Paris, a scene from classical mythology (Fig. 26). The story of the Judgment was an exceedingly popular one in both continental Europe and England in the sixteenth century. The German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder painted more than a dozen images depicting the story, for example. In England during Elizabeth's reign, artists created versions in which Elizabeth I was substitued for Paris, creating a visual allegory of Elizabeth as a fair and just monarch. The story was sometimes reinterpreted in the sixteenth century in a reformist Christian context, with the Judgment of Paris presented as an allegory of God's gift to man of free will. The brooch is therefore not sufficiently unique to enable association with a specific individual sitter.» A Queen of a New Invention, by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 118.

The above was incredibly enough not written about the brooch in the Duckett Painting, but about the brooch in another painting known as Lady Jane Grey since at least the 1800’s.

Lady Jane Grey – The Grimsthorpe Portrait (detail) – The Brooch

Mystery of the 'Lady Jane Grey' Portrait at Grimsthorpe Castle – Image copyright Ray Biggs 2019

The portrait is today located at Grimsthorpe, which has led to some confusion about whether or not the identification of Jane was genuinely meant, or if it were in fact a portrait of Katherine Willoughby instead: «Another three-quarter-length portrait at Grimsthorpe (not illustrated) depicts a lady who has been variously identified as Mary, Queen of Scots and Lady Jane Dudley (Jane Grey). It is clearly not of Mary, and Jane's name has been attached to a numer of paintings, none of which can be authenticated. A detailed scientific analysis of the work could help to identify the sitter, but there is no likelihood of this being undertaken in the near future. All we can say is that this lady's features very closely resemble those of Katherine in her other portraits.» Henry VIII's Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady-in-Waiting to the Tudors by David Baldwin

«Do you think that that the sitter in the ¾ length ‘Grimsthorpe portrait’ is Katherine or Lady Jane Grey? This is difficult because we have no authenticated portrait of Jane. All we can say in that the lady in the Grimsthorpe portrait closely resembles Katherine – note especially the similarity in the bone structure of the face and the eyes, nose and mouth.» David Baldwin (Henry VIII’s Last Love: The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Willoughby, Lady-in-Waiting to the Tudors) – Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

Lady Jane Grey – The Grimsthorpe Portrait

Mystery of the 'Lady Jane Grey' Portrait at Grimsthorpe Castle – Image copyright Ray Biggs 2019

However, J. Stephan Edwards have traced this portrait as a gift given in February 1844 to Sophia Matilda Wright Heathcote from her father, Thomas Wright of Upton Hall, Lincolnshire, as a portrait of Lady Jane Grey. Due to the death of Sophia Matilda's mother Sophia Frances Chaplin Wright shortly before, on the 9th of February 1844, J. Stephan Edwards believes that the portrait was a bequest from her. And not from the Wrights, who were avid art collectors in their own right, but who had only risen to prominence in the last generations and therefore had no link to the old families. Sophia Matilda in her turn bequeathed the painting to her sister-in-law, Clementina Drummond Willoughby Heathcote, 24th Baroness Willougby de Eresby, and that is how the painting ended up at Grimsthorpe Castle, home of the Willoughby de Eresby family since 1516.

The painting does not appear to have originated with the Willoughbys at all.

Lady Jane Grey – The Duckett and Grimsthorpe Portraits

Sadly, the face of the painting has been completely overpainted, in order to 'restore' or 'improve' it. The only thing I can say about it is that its features is entirely consistent with the features of the lady in the Duckett painting, except that the lady in the Duckett painting has perhaps a higher forehead.

There is another colour photograph of the Grimsthorpe Portrait on p. 117 of J. Stephan Edwards book A Queen of a New Invention, with another close-up of the brooch on p. 119 (Fig.26).

The @grimsthorpecollection may yet post one as well.

Lady Jane Grey – Her Brooch?

The brooches are both similar and dissimilar at the same time. They both feature two unclothed women with a third person in the background and a man sitting. The image, however, is in reverse, and in the Grimsthorpe Portrait the sitting man is dressed in a pink robe and greeting one of the women with a raised clasp of hands.

Having looked at quite a number of the Judgement of Paris scenes since I first came across this motif in the brooches, I think, however, that the images are more similar than not.

I initially thought that the brooch the lady in the Duckett painting is wearing was a cameo, but looking at the close up I am more inclined to think that it is painted gold like the brooch the lady in the FitzWilliam Portrait is wearing or painted enamel. The brooch the lady in the Grimsthorpe painting is wearing also looks like painted gold or enamel.

While the colours of the brooch in the Duckett painting is made up of reddish-gold and white, there is some sparse use of colouring in the brooch in the Grimsthorpe Portrait. The overall impression is still darker, perhaps explaining the different artistic choices by the painter of the Duckett Portrait, where the impression of the brooch is altogether more striking.

Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses 1569

Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses


Hans Eworth

Royal Collection | RCIN 403446


«Important figures at court were often portrayed in the flattering guise of mythological gods. Elizabeth I is Paris in this re-telling of the beauty contest ‘The Judgement of Paris’. The original myth saw Venus as victor over her rivals Juno and Minerva. Here, Elizabeth I keeps the prize (an orb instead of an apple) for herself, symbolising her triumph over the illustrious goddesses.

Signed and dated lower right: 1569 / HE

The painting is in its original frame which has the contemporary inscription: `IVNO POTENS SCEPTRIS ET MENTIS ACVMINE PALLAS / ET ROSEO VENERIS FVLGET IN ORE DECVS / ADFVIT ELIZABETH IVNO PERCVLSA REFVGIT OBSVPVIT PALLAS ERVBVITQ VENVS'. Translated as: 'Pallas was keen of brain, Juno was queen of might, / The rosy face of Venus was in beauty shining bright, / Elizabeth then came, And, overwhelmed, Queen Juno took flight: / Pallas was silenced: Venus blushed for shame'.

We know that this remarkable painting belonged to Elizabeth herself because a visitor, Baron Waldstein, saw it at Whitehall Palace in 1600. The artist divided the painting into the real, contemporary world on the left and the allegorical world of goddesses on the right. On the left, the Queen stands on the steps and is emerging through a classical arch from a royally decorated interior containing a frieze with the Tudor arms and a canopy embroidered with her own arms. On the far right is the chariot of Venus drawn by swans. The building in the background is thought to be the earliest painted representation of Windsor castle.

This is the only known portrait of Elizabeth I wearing gloves. She is known to have been particularly proud of her elegant hands and used gloves as a sign of favour, removing them to allow a courtier to kiss the royal hand or presenting them as gifts. The goddess Venus on the right has discarded her linen smock, the layer of clothing worn closest to the skin. Unlike the goddess, this garment is not an invention of the artist, demonstrating many of the features seen on surviving smocks of the period, such as bands of embroidery in coloured silk thread.

Hans Eworth was listed as ‘Jan Euworts' in 1540 as a freeman of the Guild of St Luke (St Luke was the patron saint of painters) in Antwerp, but by 1545 he had moved to England where he remained until his death in 1574. As well as working for the Office of Revels, designing sets and costumes for Elizabeth I’s court entertainments, Eworth also produced complex allegorical and religious works.


Presumably painted for Elizabeth I or presented to her as a gift from a courtier»

Queen Elizabeth I ('Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses')

Queen Elizabeth I ('Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses')

c. 1590

Attributed to Isaac Oliver

National Portrait Gallery | NPG 6947


«This previously unknown small-scale painting reinterprets the theme of Elizabeth and the three goddesses, also depicted in an oil painting of this title in the Royal Collection. The subject is a reworking of the classical legend known as the 'Judgement of Paris', in which a golden apple is awarded by Paris to the fairest of the three goddesses, the outcome of which led to the Trojan War. Here, rather than repeat Paris's folly, Elizabeth retains the golden orb for herself as she alone combines their separate virtues. The subject was designed to flatter the Queen, implying that the outcome of her reign would be peace and not war. The exceptionally high quality of this painting suggests that it may have been painted for the Elizabeth herself, or for someone close to her.»

The Family of Henry VIII: an Allegory of the Tudor Succession

The Family of Henry VIII: an Allegory of the Tudor Succession

Lucas de Heere

National Museum Wales | NMW A 564


«This picture celebrates the harmony established by Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth is on the right, holding the hand of Peace and followed by Plenty. Her father Henry VIII, the founder of the Church of England, sits on his throne, and passes the sword of justice to his Protestant son Edward VI. On the left are Elizabeth’s Catholic half-sister and predecessor Mary I and her husband Philip II of Spain, with Mars, the God of War. The picture, a gift from Queen Elizabeth to Sir Francis Walsingham, exemplifies the 16th century's fascination with allegory, the Queen's vision of herself as the culmination of the Tudor dynasty and her concern with the legitimacy of her regime.

Lucas de Heere came to London from Ghent in the late 1560s, one of many Flemish Protestant artists and craftspeople to flee religious persecution. This painting was accepted under the 'in lieu in situ scheme'. It was purchased by J.C.Dent at the sale of the collection of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill, in 1842.»

This painting was a gift from Elizabeth I herself to Sir Francis Walsingham. 

The first two we either know were owned by her, or it is strongly suspected that it was owned by her or someone close to her.

There is yet one more important dynastic portrait playing on the theme of the Judgement of Paris and the three goddesses dating from Elizabeth's reign.

Clearly it was an imagery of some importance to her.

An Allegory of the Tudor Succession: The Family of Henry VIII

Who tells us the stories that we love? Family, teachers ...

Elizabeth I Tudor and Lady Jane Grey were partially raised by the same woman, Katherine Parr. Katherine Parr was Elizabeth I Tudor's step-mother from the time she was 9 until she was 15. Important, formative years for sure. Katherine Parr also raised Lady Jane Grey for 18 happy months until her own tragic, untimely death in childbed on the 5th of september 1548.

As it so happens, Elizabeth I Tudor and Lady Jane Grey even had the same tutors. When Elizabeth I Tudor lived with her step-mother, Katherine Parr, after her father's death, so did Lady Jane Grey, as the ward of Katherine Parr's husband, Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley. With Jane, when she left home to live with the Seymours, went her beloved tutor, John Aylmer.

John Aylmer has achieved his own fame as a part of Lady Jane Grey's legend, through Roger Ascham's anecdote of Jane remarking to him of Mr. Aylmer «who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whilst I am with him» in contrast to her cruel parents.

On his journey south to Billingsgate to embark, Ascham visited Lady Jane Grey at her father's house at Bradgate, Leicestershire, and in a memorable passage in The Scholemaster he has described how he found her reading Plato's 'Phaedo' in her chamber while all the household was out hunting.

At the Window (The Terrier Anxious to Join the Hunt in the Distance)

At the Window (The Terrier Anxious to Join the Hunt in the Distance)


John Callcott Horsley

Oil on canvas | 24.25" x 21" — 61.6 x 53.3 cm.


Roger Ascham wrote this of this encounter in his book The Schoolmaster:

«Before I went into Germany, I came to Broadgate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble lady Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholding. Her parents, the duke and duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber, reading Phaedo Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccace. After salutation, and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her, why she would leese such pastime in the park? Smiling, she answered me; “I wist, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.” “And how came you, madam,” quoth I, “to this deep knowledge of pleasure and what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto?” “I will tell you,” quoth she, “and tell you a truth, which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in presence either of father or mother; whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat, drink, be merry, or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else; I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly, as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr Elmer; who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because whatsoever I do else but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles unto me.”

I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so worthy of memory, and because also it was the last talk that ever I had, and the last time that ever I saw that noble and worthy lady.

Ascham’s recollection, however, was not the first time he referred to his Bradgate visit. In a letter to John Sturm on December 14, 1550, in which he discussed various learned English ladies, he wrote, “This last summer . . . I turned out of my road to Leicester, where Jane Grey was living with her father. I was immediately admitted into her chamber, and found the noble damsel—Oh, ye gods!—reading Plato’s Phaedro in Greek, and so thoroughly understanding it that she caused me the greatest astonishment.”» History Refreshed by Susan Higginbotham

On 18 January 1551 Ascham wrote to Jane:

«In this long travel of mine, I have passed over wide tracts of country, and seen the largest cities, I have studied the customs, institutes, laws, and religion of many men and diverse nations, with as much diligence as I was able: but in all this variety of subjects, nothing has caused in me so much wonder as my having fallen upon you last summer, a maiden of noble birth, and that too in the absence of your tutor, in the hall of your most noble family, and at a time when others, both men and women, give themselves up to hunting and pleasures, you, a divine maiden, reading carefully in Greek the Phaedo of the divine Plato; and happier in being so occupied than because you derive your birth, both on your father’s side, and on your mother’s, from kings and queens! Go on then, most accomplished maiden, to bring honour on your country, happiness on your parents, glory to yourself, credit to your tutor, congratulation to all your friends, and the greatest admiration to all strangers!» History Refreshed by Susan Higginbotham

Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham

Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham


John Callcott Horsley

Oil on Canvas | 76.2 x 63.5 cm. (30 x 25 in.)


Roger Ascham was in fact Elizabeth's tutor, and the fact that Jane was on such terms with him as to feel comfortable to confide in him, says something about the relationship the girls had with their tutors.

The fact that Roger Ascham sought Jane out especially, even when the rest of her family was out hunting, shows an old, warm acquaintance.

As Nicola Tallis rightly points out, Elizabeth's later treatment of Jane's sisters indicate that the two were never close. But it is nevertheless possible to have fond memories of times you have spent with people you do not particularly care for.

And the fact that Elizabeth was fond of John Aylmer, if not her cousin, is demonstrated through the fact that she later, when Queen, made him her Bishop of London. And she refused to remove him even though people literally were begging her to. He proved to be a truly atrocious one.

Elizabeth was a loyal woman. A loyal friend, and a loyal enemy. And she showed a particularly strong loyalty towards those who had shown kindness towards the child Elizabeth.

Lady Jane Grey, Lady Katherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey with their tutor John Aylmer (illustration)

«The Judgement of Paris perhaps had particular associations for Elizabeth, since it formed part of the six pageants performed at the coronotation of her mother, Anne Boleyn. In Anne's procession to Westminster Abbey for her crowning, she paused at the Great Conduit, where the Judgement was acted out. Conventionally, the prize of the golden apple in the myth was given to Venus; in Anne's pageant the actor playing Paris paused at the last moment and gave the prize to Anne herself, announcing:

yet, to be plain,

Here is the fourth lady now in our presence,

Most worthy to have it of due congruence.

Anne's acceptance of the apple casts her in a conventional feminine role, as a woman to be judged and rewarded by a man, but in the Three Goddesses picture, it is, as we have noted, Elizabeth herself who is Paris, who has the taken the authority of choice upon herself.» Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton

In fact, John Aylmer (and perhaps Jane) had probably heard first hand accounts of Anne Boleyn's coronation.

While still a boy, his precocity was noticed by Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, later 1st Duke of Suffolk. A knight of the Bath, Jane's father was the king's sword bearer at Anne Boleyn's coronation in 1533. John Aylmer was born in 1521, and because of his longstanding relationship with the family, it is entirely possible that he heard about the events as they were going on.

Of course, John Aylmer is not the only one Elizabeth could have (or indeed would have) heard the story of her mother's coronation from. It is, however, worth noting that the time Lady Elizabeth Tudor and Lady Jane Grey spent with Katherine Parr is the first time it would have been 'safe' to talk of Anne Boleyn. This period, from 1547 when Henry VIII died, and until 1554, when Mary I came to the throne, was a period where the people in charge had nothing against Anne Boleyn.

King Edward VI clearly bore her no ill will, his tutor John Cheke thought nothing of identifying the Anna Bollein Queen sketch by Holbein as – well, Anne Boleyn – to the young King.

Neither Seymour brother had anything against her, apart from wishing for their sister to replace her. Nor did John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.

If anything, with the focus on the new religion during Edward's reign, Anne was in vogue.

Anne do somehow always seem to end up as fashionable.

Anne had been a reformer, as were the Seymour brothers, the Duke of Northumberland, and, not to mention, King Edward VI himself.

And as was John Aylmer. He was indeed extremely zealous, as would become clear when he became a bishop.

The amusing thing is that Elizabeth Tudor would not have been the only young girl in that schoolroom whose recent ancestress had been crowned. Lady Jane Grey's grandmother (and Elizabeth's aunt) Mary 'Rose' Tudor had also had a coronation, and that in Paris, no less. 6 November 1514 – The Entry of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, into Paris – The Tudor Society

Paris was bedecked to welcome the new queen. Tapestries hung along the streets and the entire town was decorated with lilies and roses. On her journey there Mary was greeted by a number of tableaux. The first was at St Denis. Here an enormous ship had been built, complete with real sailors who climbed the rigging. There was even wind blowing into the sails. The ship held images of Ceres, Bacchus and at the helm the Greek hero, Paris. Queen Mary Tudor's Entrance into Paris – On the Tudor Trail

It is perhaps worth noting the Tudor era's love of word plays.

It would have been a bad tutor who had failed to point out all of these, and whatever else John Aylmer may have been, a bad tutor was not one of them.

Elizabeth Taylor and The La Peregrina Pearl

In 1969, Richard Burton bought Elizabeth Taylor La Peregrina Baroque Pearl necklace / 16th century bauble is approx. 50 carats and set a world record for a pearl sale, fetching $ 11,842,500 at Christie's New York.

Elizabeth Taylor, wearing the famous pearl La Peregrina, in Anne of a Thousand Days, 1969

Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

The copyists have considerately let Jane Shore keep La Peregrina.

Jane Shore

EDITED TO ADD 21.02.2021

A visitor to this site, Mary Richards, noticed a striking resemblance between the Grimsthorpe Portrait and the Streatham Portrait:

The observation made by Mary Richards prompts me to share something I noticed a while ago about the Grimsthorpe Portrait: The girdle chain hanging down from the lady's waist is the same kind as those worn by the ladies in the Fitzwilliam Portrait and the Rotherwas Portrait.

Both of those ladies are holding a girdle prayer book, seemingly attached to the girdle chain.

Whoever the lady in the Grimsthorpe Portrait is, she was probably in possession of a girdle prayer book.

Just like Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey – Sketch of the Norris Portrait by Herbert Norris (detail showing prayer book)

Lady Jane Grey's prayer book with her handwritten signature © British Library Board, Harley 2342

Lately, I have also been looking at the patterns of collars for hints to help identity the sitter.

Which means that lately I have been devoting special attention to the pattern of the standing open collar of the lady in the Grimsthorpe Portrait.

I knew that pinks were a badge of the Grey family, but I have not been able to find a stylized version of pinks that matched the pattern of the collar of the lady in the Grimsthorpe Portrait.

Until I actually looked up stylized pinks version used by the Greys of Dorset, on page 98 in T.E. Scott-Ellis, Baron Howard de Walden, Banners, Standards, and Badges from a Tudor Manuscript in the College of Arms [London: De Walden Library, 1904]:

The Grimsthorpe Portrait (detail) – The pattern of the standing open collar & Sprigs of Pinks – The badge of the Grey family of Dorset (detail)

The Grey Badge and Standard

– Harry Suffolk, always at the Kings side. attended the monarch with twenty-five personal cavalrymen, riding under the Grey standard of a silver unicorn in a sunbeam of gold. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

The Standard of the Grey family of Dorset

Other sources describe the badge of the Dorsets of Grey as bunches of daisies, tufted proper. “His square banner, as enrolled at the College of Arms, contains the same quarterings. The supporter is a unicorn ermine. On his long standard, per fess white and murrey, are bunches of daisies, tufted proper, for badges, and the motto, A ma puissance.” The Collegiate Church of Ottery St. Mary (1917) and An account of the restorations of the collegiate chapel of St. George, Windsor: with some particulars of the heraldic ornaments of that edifice (1844) by Thomas Willement

That, too, as we can see, is perfectly in keeping with the image before us.

My first guess as to the flowers on the girl’s collar were daisies.

The badge was to be noticed.

“In later Plantagenet days, badges were of considerable importance, and certain characteristics are plainly marked. [...] At all times badges had very extensive decorative use. [...] So great and extensive at one period was the use of these badges, that they were far more generally employed than either arms or crest, and whilst the knowledge of a man's badge or badges would be everyday knowledge and common repute throughout the kingdom, few people would know that man's crest, fewer still would ever have seen it worn.” (A Complete Guide to Heraldry by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies)


[1] A Queen of a New Invention, by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 45

[2] A Queen of a New Invention, by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 56-57

[3] A Queen of a New Invention, by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 81

[4] A Queen of a New Invention, by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 117

[5] A Queen of a New Invention, by J. Stephan Edwards, p. 168-176

[6] The first known owner of the Audley End copy of the Syon Portrait was Charles Howard, 9th Earl of Suffolk (1685 – 28 September 1733). He was a direct descendant of Lady Jane Grey's first cousin and sister-in-law, Margaret Audley.

At some point Diane de Poitiers got mixed up with Jane Shore, and Jane Shore got mixed up with Jane Grey.