Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C, Wales: Artists and Subjects 47 Further information sought on portraits of ‘Jane Shore’

Topic: Other

There are British (English) School portraits of Jane Shore at three National Trust castles in Wales: Powis, Chirk and Penrhyn. These are all very similar and are certainly not contemporary but are probably early 18th century.

I also have a very similar portrait to the other three. Thanks to the assistance of Dr Godfrey Evans of the National Museum of Scotland, whose research interest is tracing the original contents of Hamilton Palace, I have established that my picture was sold at Christie's in the original Hamilton Palace sale, lot number 1083. It was catalogued as 'Mary Queen of Scots' in the 1882 sale fourth portion. The picture (measuring 29 inches x 25 inches) was bought by the Glasgow art dealer W. Craibe Angus for 12 guineas. It was catalogued as 'Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots from an older picture by Walker'. The Hamilton Palace collection was one of the most important picture sales to ever occur in the UK and I do not pretend that my picture was anything but a minor work as part of that sale, but presumably some very knowledgeable art experts were responsible for the catalogue.

So far so good – however, the image does not look like Mary Queen of Scots and we have these three pictures at Chirk, Powis and Penrhyn Castles all catalogued by the National Trust as Jane Shore.

Do we know who any of the artists were who executed either the original or any of the copies? The artist who executed the Chirk picture was probably different from the Powis artist, looking at the different techniques.

I would value any thoughts anyone might have on the subject.

Art UK adds:
Elizabeth "Jane" Shore, née Lambert (c.1445–c.1527) was one of the many mistresses of Edward IV. Later in life she became a recognised penitent. The National Trust versions all depict ‘Jane’ in this guise, looking down and wearing a transparent veil which is part of a hybrid costume of c. 1544/1545. All three copies, said to be from a 16th century portrait, contain two palm fronds emerging from the scroll of a cartouche below, which is clearest in the Chirk Castle image. Provenance for the National Trust pictures is on their website, linked under the image on Art UK.

The sitter’s identity is disputed, however. See Priory Fine Art sale, 13 January 2013, no reserve eBay sale, sold for £1,045 as ‘Fair Rosamund’ (i.e. Rosamund Clifford, mistress of Henry II), inscribed ‘Rosamund de Clifford’ upper right, the identification repeated on the frame.

Other pictures said to be of Jane Shore: British School (Tudor), ‘Portrait of a Woman, previously identified as Jane Shore (d.1527?)’, c.1580. Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 402739

Also, Unknown artist, ‘Jane Shore’, no date, Eton College Collections, after a 16th century panel version in King’s College, Cambridge that is dendrochronologically dated 1550–1560.

Peter Silcocks, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

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Martin Hopkinson,

The possibility that the original of this image was an 18th century theatrical portrait should not be ruled out. Thomas Heywood's Edward III, The Tragedy of Richard III and The True Tragedy of Richard III all included her - and there may well be others,

Barbara Bryant,

Nothing like the image in question above but worth noting that also popular was NIcholas Rowe's play "Jane Shore" with many engravings of Sarah Siddons in character.

Jacinto Regalado,

I expect all four versions of the same basic image mentioned above are or certainly could be by the same hand. They may be 18th century, but I would not exclude 19th without due evidence.

Jacinto Regalado,

And why or on what basis has the possibility of this being a purported image of Mary Stuart been discarded? The dress would fit her better, and so would the number of copies (which befits a figure like Mary or Bonnie Prince Charlie, but hardly a relatively obscure royal mistress). If this is Mary Stuart, the likeness need not be factually accurate but merely suggestive, especially if it is a romanticized 19th century version.

If a sudden surge of interest in Jane Shore had been aroused by Sarah Siddons in that role, resulting paintings would have reflected how Siddons looked in it, as do the existing engravings (see below), and the pictures under discussion do not:

Martin Hopkinson,

The style of the Rosamund Clifford' perhaps is more suggestive of a French source

Jacinto Regalado,

If the source is French, it might be one of the mistresses of Henry IV.

Jacinto Regalado,

There is an 1802 engraving of this same image as Rosamund Clifford:

The engraving says it is after "an ancient painting."

I don't know how Jane Shore came into this, but perhaps it had something to do with this other engraving from 1790:

Jacinto Regalado,

So far, it appears the source image (of which ours may be a copy) can be no later than 1802, when a version of it was engraved (as Rosamund Clifford) and said to be "an ancient painting" (possibly based on the 16th century dress, which of course may have no bearing on when it was actually painted). Thus, it might be early 18th century, as Peter Silcocks noted above.

Jacinto Regalado,

The dress, of course, is historically quite wrong for Clifford and too late for Shore (especially the young Shore). It is actually closer to the time of Mary Stuart, albeit somewhat earlier, and I still think she should be considered.

Kieran Owens,

In regards to the above-mentioned portrait at Eton, the Windsor & Eton Express, of Saturday 20 November 1847, noted that "there is now in Eton College an original portrait of Jane Shore, who rendered services to this institution; for it so happened that the then provost was Jane Shore's confessor. A great deal of the college property was confiscated by Edward IV, and more would have been taken away by that monarch, had it not been for the influence possessed by "Mistress Shore"".

A more detailed assessment of the portrait is attached, taken from the Morning Post of Thursday 14th May 1857.

Additionally, an article in the Chester Chronicle, of Saturday 9th July 1859, mentions that at Chirk Castle "in the drawing room is a very curious portrait of Jane Shore, of which there is a repetition, with modifications in the dress, at Mrs. Mytton's near Welshpool, and a third, which has been engraved as Fair Rosamond."

Three portraits of Shore, "the baker's wife and mistress to the King", were exhibited in the South Kensington Museum's National Portrait Exhibition in April 1866. They are catalogue numbers 33, 34 and 35, "the last, which is from King's College, Cambridge, alone conveys the idea of beauty."

The Cheltenham Examiner, of Wednesday 24 July 1889, reports that, during a visit by the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society to Southam House, in Southam near Prestbury, members were shown "a portrait of Jane Shore, very ancient and of doubtful authenticity."

The Pall Mall Gazette, of Wednesday 23rd July 1890, describes one on the lots, in Messrs. Phillips' sale at New Bond Street, as "a portrait of Jane Shore by Sir Peter Lely".

The Warminster & Westbury Journal, and Wilts County Advertiser, of Saturday 25th January 1908, carries an extensive extract from the 1789 diary of a Miss Burney, who was staying at Longleat with the King and Queen. Of relevance to this discussion, she writes that "There are portraits of Jane Shore and Fair Rosamond, which have some marks of originality, being miserable daubs, yet from evidently beautiful subjects."

The attached article from the Illustrated London News, of Saturday 18th November 1933, might be of interest.

Also worth reading is Henrietta McBurney Ryan's 2008 essay on "Jane Shore and her portraits at Eton and King's":

And finally, the Hull Daily Mail, of Wednesday 22nd November 1950, notes that from the sale of pictures from the collection of Boynton Hall, "Mr. V. Galloway, curator of the Hull Art Gallery, made successful bids for a portrait of Jane Shore, known as the "Rose of London", (six guineas)......".

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Looking carefully at the depiction of dress in this portrait, it just not seem to me to be of the 1540s.The hair is not styled or decorated in the same way. The central parting and curled sides are however quite close to those of Lely’s 1665-70 portrait of Moll-Mary-Davies, as are the facial characteristics. see attachment. - close up' The downwards curve of the top of the bodice is the exact inverse of ones seen in mid sixteenth century portraits- including Hilliard’s ‘ Pelican ‘ portrait of Eliz. 1, used as the cover image of our Art Detective Dress and Textiles group’s title page. These all arc upwards. The dropped sleeve is perhaps a misunderstanding of a mid 16th cent sleeve setting. When compared to aristocratic/royal portraits of women c 1540-50, the ruff is crudely painted and perhaps lies far too far away from the neck. The jewelled braid is also not finely painted. Neither is what may be gold embroidery on the two centre front white top panels.

SO this to me this not 1540s century but I am not sure if it dates from Lely’s period, as it nothing like the quality of his work or 18th century (maybe early) or even c. 1860-80s century historical revival portrait. I have looked at Talbot Hughes’s 1880s work, before he went into his neoclassical revival style c 1900- and this certainly is not by him.

Jacinto Regalado,

The "naive" look of the image is quite reminiscent of a popular print by a minor engraver, and such a print indeed exists, as noted above. Is it possible that the print gave rise to these painted versions, which could (and would) then be 19th century confections?

Jacinto Regalado,

I did note sometime ago the heavy-lidded Lely-like eyes, but I suspect that is probably a red herring--and while it's neither here nor there, it occurred to me that this image could be used as cover art for a recording of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda.

Kieran Owens,

Edward Jesse's 1842 edition of "A Summer's Day at Hampton Court" mentioned that in the Mantegna Gallery there was a "Female Portrait called Jane Shore". It was identified as item number 823 in his list of the palace's artworks.

Kieran Owens,

The Belle Assemblée of 1806 also mentioned that in Berkeley Castle, which is located near Newport, between Bristol and Gloucester, there was "a curious portrait of Jane Shore and of Fair Rosamond (sic)..."

Jacinto Regalado,

It is remarkable how many versions of our picture still exist, and there could certainly be more. One can imagine walking into, oh, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and saying something like "Your Old Masters are all very well, of course, but where's your Jane Shore?"

Kieran Owens,

The 1808 edition of the Monthly Mirror mentions that Prestwold House (now named Hall), contained "several good pictures....Amongst these is "Jane Shore", supposed to be an original...".

Although remodelled in 1837, as the house is still standing and is still owned by the Packe family, perhaps the painting is still there.

Jacinto Regalado,

Since Prestwold Hall is not a public collection, it is probably not appropriate for a member of the public to make enquiries as to its holdings, but perhaps someone in a more official capacity could do so.

Jacinto Regalado,

Is it just a coincidence, or is there some reason why three of these portraits are in Wales? It makes rather better sense to find one in the Royal Collection or in Scotland, where it could easily pass for a portrait of Mary Stuart.

Nicholas Meade,

Hello, through the wonders of reverse image searching, I have just discovered that a painting in my possession which I have been puzzling over for the last few years, is another of these Rosamund Clifford/Jane Shore portraits. I attach it here; I am sure you will be pleased to see it. It has many similarities, but some differences (as they all do).

I have also created a 'board' on Pinterest which shows all the paintings side by side.

I have found your discussion from September 2019 very interesting, thank you.

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Kieran Owens,

Bonhams sold a version of the same 'Fair Rosamund' in 2008:

It was offered as 'Circle of Jean-Baptiste van Moor (Valenciennes 1671-1737 Constantinople)'. They also suggested that the painting might be by William Sykes (1659 - 1724).

Jacinto Regalado,

Vanmour's work is more important as historical documentation than as art, but he is a recognized figure, thus an attribution to him would be more attractive and fetch a better price than one to Sykes.

Whaley Turco,

One wonders if Jane Shore wasn't code for the King's Mistress, no matter what century it was. And Just to further muddy the waters the lady in Question, does look like she fell right out of an Italian Renaissance painting, heavy eyelids first.

Nicholas Meade,

Thanks, Jacinto - it is good to see yet another version of the type. Interesting how the two engravings have a significantly different look to the oil paintings.

Jacinto Regalado,

I would like to ask for the assistance of Neil Jeffares. In 2015, there was a post in his blog about the miniaturist Francis Sykes, a descendant of William Sykes, in which a link was provided to the sales catalogue (from 1728/9) which I believe is referenced in the Bonhams listing for “Fair Rosamund” (linked by Kieran above), although Bonhams says the sale took place in 1733. Unfortunately, the link to that catalogue no longer works, but I assume it is still accessible online.

According to Bonhams, “Fair Rosamund” was part of Lot 3, along with three other heads or portraits. If one of those other portraits, or another picture in the same sale, is a “Jane Shore,” we would have a better case for William Sykes as the possible author of both pictures (though it might be the William who died in 1724 or his son William who died in 1728, who was apparently also a painter and presumably a picture dealer).

The two pictures in question are the same size and format and stylistically similar, so they could reasonably plausibly be by the same hand, whether Sykes or someone else.

Jacinto, Neil doesn't have a link to the full text any more either. This paragraph from Neil's blog refers to William Sykes's sale:

'Soon after, his collection of 300 or so pictures were sold over five days from 2 March 1725 at his house, the Two Golden Balls, Portugal Row, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The quality of the collection is revealed in the catalogue which can be seen in full on the excellent website at this link':

Richard Stephens, who runs that website, has responded that he would be happy to help, although he says that the artworld website is misbehaving at the moment. I'll update here when possible.

Jacinto Regalado,

Thanks to all involved, but that is the catalogue to an earlier (1724) sale, not the one I meant from 1728/29. I had actually managed to find the online catalogue for the 1724 sale, which unfortunately does not help. The Bonhams entry refers to a sale following the death of the son of William Sykes, also named William, though Bonhams gives a date of 1733, which is presumably incorrect.

The Neil Jeffares blog entry where links to both sales were originally given is below:

I would like to thank Richard Stephens for his email.

Richard thinks that Bonhams are referring to this sale which did indeed take place in 1733:

There is no mention of paintings of Fair Rosamund or Jane Shore in the January 1728/9 Sykes catalogue.

Another sale (of 1724) contained a lot with a Fair Rosamund and a Jane Shore:

Both subjects were common on the late 17th century London art market.

Jacinto Regalado,

Thank you, Marion, and of course Mr Stephens.

The 1733 sale was of the pictures of James Sykes, brother of the William Sykes who died in 1728 and son of the William Sykes who died at the very end of 1724 (the alleged forger). There was, then, a Fair Rosamund but no definite Jane Shore with a Sykes provenance.

The 1724 sale that did include a Fair Rosamund and a Jane Shore was of the effects of a Lady Humble.

It would appear there is no way to tell whether the versions in those two sales match the versions under discussion here, so we are left with suggestive but speculative possibilities.

Jacinto Regalado,

No, Nicholas, I, at least, do not. It is supposedly an Italian depiction of a Silesian (Polish) peasant woman.

Imran Ghory,

An interesting letter (attached) to the Notes & Queries journal in 1861 by someone who's seen multiple copies of this work, including an engraving by Noble (although it's not clear if the Noble one linked above is the same as it's from different printer), the one in Chirk Castle and Mytton's one (mentioned above in the Chester Chronicle).

Interesting comment on Mytton's that "They used to call her Jane Shore".

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Imran Ghory,

One puzzling factor is the letter describes the veil being supported by a whalebone, which I don’t see in any version of the paintings unless I’m missing it.

Would be interesting to know if the Mytton painting is the one now at Powis castle or if it’s been lost. The Mytton estate is only 3 miles from the castle and the family was known to be friends with Lord Clive who married into the Powis family.

However Powis lists the painting as previously hanging in Clive of India’s (Lord Clive’s father) house and the timeline doesn’t work unless it was transferred from Clive’s family to Mytton’s and then back again.

One way to tell might be to see if the repairs to the neck described in the letter are visible on the portrait?

Imran Ghory,

There's a 1903 catalogue of the portraits at Boynton ( lists a "Jane Shore by Grey" on the staircase.

An article from the Bradford Observer (23 November 1950) on its sale states "A number of purchases were also made for the Ferens Art Gallery. Hull, by Mr. Vincent Galloway. including a Portrait of Nathaniel Cholmley by John Riley for 61gns. a portrait of Jane Shore by Grey for 6gns."

Unfortunately neither reference states a first name for the artist.