Open a larger version of the following image in a popup:Fig. 8
Johannes Kip (1653 - 1722) Clower Wall The Seat of Francis Wyndham Esq. Copper engraving: 42 x 35 cm., printed in London, 1719. Our portrait was likely kept here from 1716 until 1865, when it was transferred to Adare Manor.
The artist of this sumptuous, exceptionally well-persevered portrait, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, is rightly regarded today as one of the most important portrait painters working in oils for both the royal courts of Elizabeth I and James I. His iconic portraits defined the public image of many of the leading figures of his age and the sitter of our portrait would certainly have held a prominent role within the Jacobean court. Whilst the identity of the sitter is now uncertain, she was most likely an ancestor of the illustrious Wyndham family, as the portrait descended through the line of Francis Wyndham (c.1670 – 1716) of Clearwell Court in Gloucestershire. It was subsequently transferred to Adare Manor in Co. Limerick, Ireland in 1865, where it remained until 1982.
(Probably) Francis Wyndham (c.1670 – 1716), Clearwell Court, Gloucestershire; thence by descent to
Thomas Wyndham (c.1763 – 1814), Clearwell Court, Gloucestershire and Dunraven Castle, Glamorganshire; to his son-in-law
Windham Wyndham-Quin, 2nd Earl of Dunraven (1782 – 1850), Clearwell Court and Adare Manor, Co. Limerick, Ireland; by descent to
Thady Wyndham Quin, 7th Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl (1939 - 2011), Adare Manor, Co. Limerick, Ireland; his sale
Christie’s, on the premises, 9 June 1982, lot 79 (£13,000); where acquired by the father of the previous late owner.
[Possibly] Caroline, Countess of Duraven, Memorials of Adare Manor: with historical notices of Adare, Oxford 1865, p. 26 [listed as ‘Portrait of a Lady by Mark Ganardo.’].
O. Millar, The Age of Charles I, Painting in England, 1620-1649, London 1972, p. 27, under no. 24.
Gheeraerts, along with the native artists Robert Peake (1551 – 1619) and William Larkin (c.1585 - 1619), was the architect of the Jacobean’s iconographic style, creating a new, distinctly English aesthetic; the flamboyant imagery of the Jacobean age through exotically designed costumes, which glowed with rich colouring and realistically rendered details, and naturalistic likenesses of their powerful clientele. Whilst the identity of this extravagant portrait remains uncertain, the subject’s immense presence and situation indicates that she was a woman of great means and high standing within Jacobean society.
The late Sir David Piper, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery, once remarked that English portraiture from the Jacobean period was: “…often dismissed by art-historians as mere ‘costume-pieces’. So indeed they are, but not as such to be dismissed, for the costume has a transcendental quality, and is rich with a significance that is almost heraldic...There is a sort of rigidity, precision and brilliance.” Indeed, the intricately embroidered and brilliantly nuanced costume worn by our sitter is so distinctive that it must, subtly, refer to certain traits unique to the sitter; in particular, the very unusual oak-leaf motif within the lace ruff and cuffs, as well as the silk sleeves within her velvet mantle, which are embroidered with the letters ‘S’ and – probably – ‘I’, which likely allude to the initials of her name.
There are several comparable portraits, also by Marcus Gheeraerts, where the sitters’ costumes are embroidered with their initials: Karen Hearn, in her essay, ‘Wrought with flowers and leaves": Embroidery Depicted in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century British Portraits,' mentions a portrait of Frances Howard (formerly kept at Cowdray Park, Fig. 2), who was painted in 1611 after her second marriage to 1st Earl of Hertford, Edward Seymour, where hersilk-lined velvet mantle is embroidered with her new initials: ‘F’ for Frances and ‘S’ for her husband’s family name, ‘Seymour.’ Another later portrait, now in the Ferens Art Gallery (Fig. 1), shows a younger lady, who also wears an almost identical velvet mantle with silk sleeves that are embroidered with the letter ‘S’ and appears to wear a similar ruff with an oak-leaf motif. The Seymours have direct links to the Somersets - the head of the Seymour family being the Duke of Somerset – so it is very plausible that our portrait is related to the Cowdray and Ferens portraits in some way.
The late Sir Oliver Millar, former Surveyor of The Queen's Pictures, compared our portrait with four others, which he regarded as late works (all dateable to between 1615 and 1629) by Marcus Gheeraerts: Anne Roper (Fig. 3), Lady Fanshawe (Fig. 5), Mrs. Anne Hoskins (Fig. 6), and a second portrait, which was also kept at Adare Manor (Fig. 4). Several compositional elements are variated between all of the portraits: primarily the red colouring of the curtains and the velvet chairs (or, in the case of Figs. 5 & 6, a table), which also echoes a portrait, dated 1615, of Lady Scudamore (Fig. 9), and the prominent, three-quarter length placement of their sitters, with their hands either leaning on the backs of the chair, or positioned over their stomachs (which usually indicated that they were pregnant).
That two very similarly composed and dated portraits by Gheeraerts were kept at Adare Manor (Fig. 7) suggests that they were both commissioned by the same family. The name ‘Mark Ganardo’ appears as the artist of three pictures listed within the Countess of Dunraven’s Memorials of Adare Manor (1865), all of which had previously been kept at Clearwell Court. One of these is described as a portrait depicting ‘a Mr. Wyndham.’ with the following painting listed as ‘Ditto of a Lady.’, also painted by ‘Mark Ganardo’. It could be hypothesised that the artist’s name had been mis-recorded - as no artist by that name is listed in any historical dictionary of artists - and that these portraits refer to those by Marcus Gheeraerts II, whose name was historically spelled ‘Gerards’, that were subsequently sold by the family. That the paintings kept at Courtwell, and subsequently Adare Manor (Fig. 10), were “…principally portraits of the Wyndham family and their connections” would suggest that the sitter of our portrait was an ancestor of the Countess of Dunraven, rather than an unrelated subject, which had been acquired by her husband, the Earl of Dunraven.
As listed in the Countess of Dunraven’s 1865 inventory of pictures, our portrait was formerly kept at the Wyndham’s Gloucestershire seat, Clearwell Court, which had been acquired by her great-great grandfather, Francis Wyndham (c.1670 – 1716), in 1696. Interestingly, a letter from Francis Wyndham to Henry Newman (1670 – 1743), who was Secretary of the Society for Promotion of Christian Knowledge, shows that Wyndham had asked his friend Newman to pack up and ‘forward to Clowerwell [Clearwell], some pictures, including portraits’ in September 1715. Though they are not itemised, nor does it state from where they were being sent, it is likely that they were family pictures from Dunraven Castle, which he had inherited in 1708.
The purchase of Clearwell (Fig. 8) in 1696 was facilitated by the large dowry brought by Wyndham’s marriage to his cousin, Mercy Strode (c.1675 – 1719). The Strodes, like their Wyndham brethren,were a notable Somerset-based family. In terms of conceivable candidates for the sitter of our portrait, one could suggest Elizabeth Upton (c.1570 – 1630), wife of William Strode (1566 – 1592). This could be corroborated by the two black mourning strings worn by the sitter, which are tied to two rings: one worn around her neck, the other to her right hand. It has been speculated that this fashion for wearing black thread around a wrist and/or hanging from the neck was to emphasise the paleness of the sitter’s skin, which itself is an allusion to their noble birth. However, they are more commonly associated with those engaged in the act of mourning: considering her middle-age – our sitter appears to be of comparable age to Lady Scudamore (Fig. 9), who was approximately forty-five years old when she sat for Gheeraerts in 1615 - and predominantly black dress, it seems very likely that the sitter of our portrait has experienced a death in her immediate family.
The detail reflects the exquisite craftsmanship characteristic of Gheeraerts, all the more noticeable for its execution on panel rather than canvas, which accentuates the surviving impasto, particularly within her accessories. Born in the Low Countries, Marcus Gheeraerts had moved from his native Bruges to London in 1568 with his Protestant father, Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c. 1520⁄1- c. 1590), who was also an artist, in order to escape the religious repression which had been unleashed by the Duke of Alva in 1567. He seems to have received much of his artistic training from his father, “to whom two remarkable panels traditionally attributed to Hoefnagel have recently been assigned on the basis of his signed portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.”
Gheeraerts had established himself as a painter by the mid-1580s and, in 1590, at the Dutch Church in London, he married his stepmother’s sister, Magdalen de Critz (d.c. 1636), who was also the sister of the artist John de Critz (1551/2 – 1642), later a ‘Serjeant Painter’ to the king. The Gheeraerts family first lived in Lothbury, within the City of London, before permanently moving to Newgate Street in 1599, which is close to where St Paul’s Cathedral stands today.
Many of his greatest masterpieces, such as the iconic Ditchley portrait of Queen Elizabeth (National Portrait Gallery, London) and the full-length of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (Woburn Abbey), date from this period. After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, Gheeraerts emerged as the favourite court painter to Anne of Denmark (1574 – 1619), Queen Consort to the new king James I (1566 – 1625), who commissioned several portraits of her and her family. In 1611, Gheeraerts was referred to as 'her Majestie's painter' in the accounts of the treasurer of James I’s chambers, which refers to payment of £79 for the commission of four portraits of the king, queen, Princess Elizabeth, and Prince Charles. Similar payments from the court were made up until 1618 and, following the Queen's death in 1619, he took part in her funeral procession. At this point, although he had become a naturalised Briton in the same year, his royal favour slipped in the absence of the Queen, and a new wave of Netherlandish artists, namely Paul van Somer (c.1577 – 1621) and Daniel Mytens (c.1590 – 1647), became the portraitists of choice during the late Jacobean period.
The artist rarely signed his work but, when he did, he would sometimes take the opportunity to refer to his Flemish heritage; for example, in his full-length portrait of Louis Frederick, Duke of Württemberg (Royal Collection) from 1608, he signed it: 'Gerardi Brugiense fece’, which suggests that being a foreign artist, i.e. someone who had trained elsewhere, was considered an asset for a painter working in England. Seemingly his only self-portrait of 1627 is now known only from an engraving made after it in 1644, bearing a caption that translates as:
“Marcus Garrardus the painter, in the service of the most illustrious and serene princes, Elizabeth and Anne, of blessed memory, queens of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, was the son of the outstanding artist Marcus Garrardus of Bruges in Flanders, where he was born. He died in London on 19 January 1636 at seventy-four. Marcus himself produced this painting in 1627, which was engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar of Bohemia in 1644.”
Gheeraerts died in his parish of Christchurch, London on 19 January 1636, his will was proved by his elder son Marcus (III), who was also a painter, on 21 March in the same year.
 Ibid, pp. 214 – 215.
 K. Hearn, “’Wrought with flowers and leaves’: Embroidery Depicted in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century British Portraits – the Era of Rubens” from Undressing Rubens: Fashion and Painting in Seventeenth-Century Antwerp, London & Turnhout, 2019, pp. 31 – 46.
 Inferring that our portrait was inherited and not bought by the Wyndham-Quins, even though the Earl of Dunraven was actively acquiring portraits for Adare; when he was in London in 1840, he wrote to his wife: ‘Nothing looks so well in old places as old portraits and old glass…We have plenty of each.’ (see: The Knight of Glin, Adare Manor, the introduction to the 1982 Christie’s auction catalogue, p. 10).
 C. Wyndham-Quin, the Countess of Dunraven, Memorials of Adare Manor, Oxford 1865, p. 25.
Anon., “Codices Rawlinsoniani” from Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliotecae Bodleianae, part 5, issue 2, Oxford 1878, p. 498.
 William Strode (1566 – 1592) m. Elizabeth Upton (c.1570 - 1630); their sixth child Edward Strode (b. 1630) m. Joan Gunning (b. 1639); their 10th child Mercy Strode (c.1675 – 1719) m. her cousin Francis Wyndham (c.1670 – 1716) in 1696, soon after acquiring Clearwell Court.