Oil painting on panel from the 1590s believed to be a later copy of a portrait of the English noblewoman Lady Jane Grey. The work is thought to have been completed as part of a set of paintings of Protestant martyrs. It was in the possession of a collector in Streatham, London, by the early 20th century.
About Streatham portrait in brief
Oil painting on panel from the 1590s believed to be a later copy of a portrait of the English noblewoman Lady Jane Grey dating to her lifetime. The work is thought to have been completed as part of a set of paintings of Protestant martyrs. It was in the possession of a collector in Streatham, London, by the early 20th century. In December 2005 the portrait was examined by the art dealer Christopher Foley. He saw it as an accurate, though poorly executed, reproduction of a contemporary painting of Jane, had it verified and on that basis negotiated its sale. As of January 2015 the portrait is in Room 3 of the National Portrait Gallery in London. The three-quarter-length portrait measures 85. 6 cm × 60. 3 cm, and is painted with oil on Baltic oak. A faded inscription, reading ‘Lady Jayne’ or ‘Lady Iayne’, is in the upper-left corner, above the woman’s shoulders. The sitter is described as a slender and pious young woman and has been tentatively identified by art critic Charlotte Higgins as Lady Jane. The subject wears an opulent red gown with a trumpet-back turned-back sleeves and a fleur-de-lis pattern, the emblem of French royalty.
The last of these was an emblem of the family of the Scots; the hood of her head covers numerous pieces of jewellery, including strawberries, gilliflowers, thistles or pinks. The portrait was acquired by the NationalPortrait Gallery for a rumoured £100,000. Jane was long thought to be the only 16th-century English monarch without a surviving contemporary portrait; one was documented in a 1590 inventory, but is now considered lost. Some identified as her were later deemed to be of other sitters, such as one of Catherine Parr, the last of the six wives of Henry VIII, which was identified as LadyJane Grey until 1996. Jane’s execution by a Catholic queen made her into what the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography terms a “Protestant martyr”, and by the end of the century Jane had become, in the words of the historian Eric Ives, “a Protestant icon”. Other works of Jane in the 16th and 17th centuries were painted years or centuries after her death. Jane and her husband were imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of high treason.