Other Portraits Called

‘Lady Jane Grey’

    This page addresses portraits formerly or still identified as depictions of Lady Jane Grey which are nonetheless obviously not authentic portraits of her. They can be excluded as genuine portraits for a wide variety of reasons, most commonly for having been produced decades or even centuries after Jane Grey’s death. Despite their clear lack of authenticity, many of these portraits were once well known to the general public, though most have rightly faded from popularity. They are discussed here in no particular order, beginning with the Ansty Hall Miniature. Others will be added over time.
The Ansty Hall Miniature Portrait
Called Lady Jane Grey
Unknown artist
Oil on panel
3 3/8 x 3 1/8 inches
Whereabouts unknown
Called Lady Jane Grey
Unknown artist
Line engraving and etching on paper
5 5/8 x 3 inches
NPG D21399
Called Lady Jane Grey
Unknown artist
Line engraving and etching on paper
4 3/8 x 2 5/8 inches
NPG D21400
Called Lady Jane Grey
Unknown artist
Line engraving and etching on paper
4 1/8 x 2 5/8 inches
NPG D21401
    This miniature painted portrait, seen at top left, was sold through the London sale rooms of Bonhams auction house on 10 May 2005 for £156. The catalogue description for the item is an excellent example of how even the most reputable of auction houses often conduct only very minimal research on items of low financial value. This painting was described in the catalogue as having been in the collection of a ‘Lady Jane Warwick in the eighteenth century,’ based on an old label on its reverse.[1] Yet extensive searches of various standard genealogical reference works reveal no ‘Lady Jane’ who bore either the surname or noble title ‘Warwick’ in the seventeenth, eighteenth, or nineteenth centuries.[2] If the claim to an association with a lady bearing the name or title Warwick is correct, it is far more likely that the person referred to was Lady Mary Warwick (d.1678), wife of Charles Rich, 4th Earl of Warwick. Lady Mary was a remarkably devout woman with strong Puritan values, so that it is entirely likely that she considered Jane Grey a proper model to be emulated by any pious aristocratic woman such as herself.[3]

    More probably, the lady was one of two Jane Whartons who lived in the eighteenth century rather than Mary (or Jane) Warwick of the seventeenth century. The first Lady Jane Wharton (née Goodwin) was the third wife of Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton (d.1696). Baron Wharton was a Puritan who remained in constant difficulties with the Crown following the Restoration of 1660 and until the accession of William and Mary in 1688. The Baron’s wife Jane was herself descended through her paternal grandmother from the Greys of Wilton, a collateral branch of the same ancestral family from which Jane Grey descended. The couple were great patrons of the arts and held a substantial collection. As Puritans of long standing, it would have been appropriate for them to own a painting reputed to depict Lady Jane Grey. The second Lady Jane Wharton was Philip and Jane Wharton’s granddaughter. As de jure 7th Baroness Wharton, she was properly styled ‘Lady Wharton’ even after her two successive marriages. This second Lady Jane Wharton died in 1761, shortly before the painting is known to have changed hands and consistent with the Bonhams catalogue assertion that it was in the collection of a ‘Lady Jane Warwick’ [?Wharton?] in specifically the eighteenth century.

    Whether the painting was formerly in the collection of Lady Mary Warwick or of either of the two Ladies Jane Wharton cannot now be confirmed. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, however, the painting was in the collection of Mrs Sarah Adams (d.1833), wife of Mr Simon Adams, Esq. of Ansty Hall, near Rugby, Warwickshire. It apparently remained in the Adams collection at Ansty until the house was sold in 1965.[4]

    Much like the issue of provenance, that of date of creation is problematic. The Bonhams catalogue describes the painting as late eighteenth century in origin, but offers no basis for that assessment. The wood-panel substrate might suggest a somewhat earlier origin, but at little more than three inches in width or height it is too small for dendrochronological dating.[5] Yet on the whole, wood was an uncommon support for miniature paintings. Paper — including playing cards — and vellum were more commonly used for miniatures in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, while ivory and copper became the favored substrates in the eighteenth century. Based on the substrate alone and absent more data, the painting can be placed anywhere between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, inclusive.

    At least three engravings identical to this painted miniature are known (shown above), and all three are catalogued by the National Portrait Gallery as sixteenth century in origin. Yet the NPG’s catalogue entry for each notes that no source is known for any of the three engravings, leaving no readily-apparent basis for dating them even to any one century.[6] Though D21401 was obviously printed on early laid paper rather than later wove paper (the light and dark stripes characteristic of laid paper are plainly visible in the image above), laid paper was in use up to the nineteenth century. The script used to engrave ‘fig.5’ as printed in the upper right hand corner of D21401 is more consistent with the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, yet the overall style of D21399 is similar to books of engravings published as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century (see, for example, the Henry Holland’s Heroωlogia Anglica of 1620). The most that can be determined based on the available evidence is that the central images of D21399 and D21400 were made from the same engraved plate (according to the NPG), and that D21401 was probably copied at a later date from the previous two.[7]

    There is even a question of which came first, the painted portrait or the engravings. Since neither the painting nor any of the engravings can be definitively dated, it is entirely possible that the painting was modeled on one of the engravings. Conversely, it is equally possible that the engravings were based, albeit rather crudely, on the painting. It is even possible that all four were copied from some fifth picture or engraving.  Such ambiguity only detracts from any potential for authenticating the image.

    That the image seen in the painted miniature is not an authentic portrayal of Jane Grey is evident from the lady’s costume. Two costume elements in particular stand out as inappropriate for an English woman of the mid-sixteenth century: the bodice lacing and the headgear. The bodice lacing is more typical of continental costume, especially from the Low Countries and the German states. The headgear also appears to be continental rather than English but, more importantly, to date to sometime after the sixteenth century in which Jane Grey lived. The NPG has noted in its description of D21401 that these irregularities, especially when combined with the erroneous engraved caption (‘Regina Coronata,’ or ‘Crowned Queen’), “suggests that European engravers formulated their own image of Lady Jane Grey rather than referring to English sources.” In plainer words, the image is an apparent fabrication, the product of some artist’s imagination.
British and Continental Pictures, Bonhams, Knightsbridge, Sale Number 11632, 10 May 2005, Lot Number 76, ‘Portrait of a young woman, said to be Lady Jane Grey.’ The purchaser of the painting is unknown.
The only ‘Lady Jane Warwick’ on record is Jane Guildford Dudley, wife of John Dudley. She might have been (erroneously) styled ‘Lady Jane Warwick’ after her husband was created Earl of Warwick in 1547 and until he was elevated to Duke of Northumberland late in 1551.
Lady Mary Warwick is best known today for the diary she kept between 1666 and 1677. No mention of Jane Grey is made in that diary, however, and no inventory of Lady Mary Warwick’s goods survives to confirm her ownership of the Ansty Hall miniature.
The house is now owned by the MacDonald Hotels & Resorts group and is operated as a luxury hotel.
The cost of a dendrochronological study would also exceed the financial value of the painting itself by several fold while contributing nothing to that financial value.
The NPG may have based their dating of the engravings on the subject matter rather than any specific aspect of the engravings themselves.
The NPG’s catalogue indicates that the central images of D21399 and D21400 were made from the same engraved plate, while D21401 is clearly a separate distinct engraving by a second engraver. D21401 is less finely engraved and the detail (earring, necklace) has been simplified, perhaps to accommodate the engraver’s lesser skill.
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