This Jacobean lady’s fashionable saffron lace ruff and rich satin red dress intricately embroidered with gold, provide a lavish display of her wealth. Van Somer’s ability to capture his sitters at their best led him to become one of the leading court painters in England at that time, responsible for several important commissions for James I and his queen, Anne of Denmark. Karel van Mander, one of art history’s first documentarians, described Van Somer as ‘excellent in all aspects of art, in invention as well as portraiture’.
Miss Everett, Lainston House, nr. Winchester, Hants;
Sir Sidney Nolan (1917 – 1992), The Rodd, near Leominster; to his wife
Lady Mary Nolan, until 2018.
This portrait formed part of the collection of the renowned Australian artist and collector, Sir Sidney Nolan (1917 – 1992). Nolan is best known for his series of paintings on legends from Australian history, most famously Ned Kelly, the bushranger and outlaw. Nolan's stylised depiction of Kelly's armour has become an icon of Australian art.
Paul van Somer (also known as Paulus), came to England from Antwerp during the reign of James I of England, becoming one of the leading painters of the royal court. As well as painting the king and queen, his patrons included powerful members of the royal circle, such as Ludovic Stuart, 2nd Duke of Lennox, Elizabeth Stanley, Countess of Huntingdon, Lady Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kent, and Lady Anne Clifford, who referred in her diary to sitting to Van Somer on 30 August 1619.
Suprisingly little is known of Van Somer’s Flemish training, especially as he arrived in England as a mature artist. According to Karel van Mander, he was the brother of the artist Barend van Someren, and from 1612 – 1614 he lived in Leiden, and is then recorded in Brussels in 1616, the year he moved to London, where he immediately became court painter. He brought with him a new grandeur and naturalism to British royal portraiture. His much-reproduced portrait of James I in 1616 and of Queen Anne in hunting attire with her dogs, in the grounds of Oatlands palace in 1617, very much established Van Somer’s position as their firm favourite, arguably supplanting John de Critz and Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Copies of van Somer's royal portraits were often commissioned to be sent as gifts overseas, particularly as James disliked sitting for portraits.
In many ways, Van Somer could be said to have paved the way for fellow Flemish artists Daniel Mytens and Anthony Van Dyck at the British court, much as de Critz and Gheeraerts had made way for Van Somer. Indeed, Mytens settled in London by 1618, where he was Van Somer’s close neighbour in St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden. Van Somer is also believed to have been the first to consistently use regalia in royal portraiture, for example the Order of the Garter. Certainly, his work was much sought after for his faithful interpretations of his sitter’s finery.