Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C 28 Is the sitter Lady Jane Boyle (1637–1679), née Seymour?

Lady Jane Boyle (d.1780)
Topic: Subject or sitter

I recently purchased an oil painting of Lady Jane Boyle at auction, which had belonged to The Society of Cincinnati museum in Washington, DC, and while doing some checking online I noticed that the artist dates for Jacob Huysmans (c.1633–1696) don't work for this portrait of Lady Jane Boyle.

According to her bio she died in 1780 and was born in 1699, three years after Huysmans died. However Huysmans dates work perfectly for her grandmother, Lady Jane (Seymour) Boyle (1637–1679), and I think that is who sat for this portrait with Huysmans.

Lady Jane Seymour (1637–1679) was the fourth daughter of William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset and his wife, Lady Frances Devereux.

On 7 May 1661, Lady Jane Seymour (1637–1679) married Charles Boyle, 3rd Viscount Dungarvan. Her modern descendants included Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Her husband Charles Boyle: https://bit.ly/2xEs3A1

They had five children:

Hon. Elizabeth Boyle (1662–1703), married her second cousin James Barry, 4th Earl of Barrymore.
Hon. Mary Boyle (c. 1664–1709), married James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry.
Hon. Charles Boyle (bef. 1669–1704), later 4th Viscount Dungarvan, and later still 3rd Earl of Cork and 2nd Earl of Burlington.
Hon. Henry Boyle (1669–1725), later 1st Baron Carleton.
Hon. Arabella Boyle (c Oct.. 1671–1750), married Henry Petty, 1st Earl of Shelburne. (named after grandfather's first secret wife Arabella?)

Their son Charles: https://bit.ly/2Wu4qCw

On 26 January 1688, at Ely House, Charles Boyle married Juliana Noel (1672–1750), the only daughter and heiress of Hon. Henry Noel (himself the second son of Baptist Noel, 3rd Viscount Campden by his third wife, Hester Wotton). They had five surviving children:

Lady Elizabeth Boyle (1690–1755), married Sir Henry Bedingfeld, 3rd Baronet.
Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694–1753)
Lady Juliana Boyle (c.1697–1739), married Charles Bruce, 3rd Earl of Ailesbury.
Lady Jane Boyle (1699–1780), died unmarried.
Lady Henrietta Boyle (1701–1746), married her distant cousin, Henry Boyle, 1st Earl of Shannon, in 1726.

I believe that the dates used for the sitter in this discussion's portrait are in fact those of Lady Jane Boyle (1699–1780), named after her grandmother.

Debbie Langdon, Entry reviewed by Art UK


Jacinto Regalado,

It is obviously a 17th century picture and the sitter cannot be someone born in 1699, who also could not have been painted by Huysmans. It could be c. 1670.

Osmund Bullock,

It seems odd that the inscription top left should read 'Lady Jane Boyle' rather than 'Viscountess Dungarvan' - but the precise timing of the title's inheritance is complex, and it may be that for a short while after her marriage in 1661, and before her husband was called to the Irish House of Lords as Viscount Dungarvan in 1663, she was known as 'Lady Jane Boyle' - further research needed. But the portrait is clearly later than that, and I would guess that there was confusion about the identity at an early date - before or at the time of the inscription.

What is very important, though, is that this seems to be a posthumous / memorial portrait. The winged putto on the right is leaning on an hour-glass whose sand has run out; and the inscription on the plinth below probably reads not 'BEAU MORTE ANNO DOMINO M...' (as given on the NT website https://bit.ly/2SGsdOp), but 'BEATI MORTUI [Q]UI [IN] DOMINO MORIUN[TUR]' - i.e. 'Blessed (are) the dead who die in the Lord'.

Viscountess Dunagarvan / Lady Jane Boyle died in 1679, which would fit well with a probable date for the portrait.

It would be helpful to see the highest-res images easily available of both the top left identifying inscription and of that on the plinth.

Osmund Bullock,

Thank you very much for those, Marion.

There was an Oxburgh inventory prepared in 1913 (the no. '84' bottom right relates to this), though I don't know how it's listed there. However it seems to have been already wrongly identified at least five years earlier than that.

The portrait is to be found in Prince Frederick Duleep Singh's 'Portraits in Norfolk Houses' Vol II (pp 115-6: Oxburgh Hall no. 40 - see https://bit.ly/3bbEQHV). This was published in 1927 or '28, after Prince Frederick's death, and edited by Edmund Farrer on behalf of the Prince's sister, Bamba. Farrer basically assembled the work from copious notes made by the Prince before his death, and that in turn was based on visits and initial listings made by him before WWI. His visit to Oxburgh seems to have taken place in Oct 1908.

Osmund Bullock,

The inscription on the plinth originates in the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) 14.13, but from 1570 was used as part of the liturgy of the Tridentine (Traditional Latin) Masses. Originally it was only part of the 'Missae cotidianae defunctorum' (the daily Masses for the dead), but was later included in the third of the three Masses of the expanded 'in commemoratione omnium fidelium defunctorum' (in commemoration of all the faithful departed, i.e. All Souls' Day). The form of the passage (and the words on the plinth that lie within it) have not changed in 450 years - see https://bit.ly/3b8dVfX (1574) & https://bit.ly/2L9vjX3 (today - with translation).

The Bedingfelds of Oxburgh were/are a staunchly Catholic family, and suffered much thereby. Lady Elizabeth Boyle, who married into the family in the early C18th, must presumably have converted if she wasn't one already...and not too big a leap either, as the Boyles - even her brother the great Lord Burlington - were certainly Catholic sympathisers, if not overtly of the faith (which would have prevented access to any public office, as well as crippling them with punitive taxation).

Any Catholic would have been instantly aware of the words' meaning - is this a clue? Was Latin used in the higher-church realms of the Anglican church in the 1670s/80s, does anyone know? It is the period, after all, of Charles II's later days - strongly tolerant of Catholicism himself, and a deathbed convert to the faith. And his brother James's brief reign as our last Catholic monarch was just around the corner.

Osmund Bullock,

Of course the iconography would work just as well, if not better, for an image of a living woman who has recently been widowed. Or would that be evident in her dress?

Jacinto Regalado,

This is merely for interest, but in the van Dyck portrait of Frances Devereux, who was the daughter of Robert, Earl of Essex (executed in 1601), the long strand of hair over her right shoulder is her father's hair, apparently attached to her earring.

Debbie Langdon,

Osmund Bullock - that you believe it's a memorial portrait makes sense to me as she died young, and now it makes sense her husband and family may have commissioned a second one be done: one still hanging at Oxborough Hall and one that was bequeathed to the Society of Cinncinati Museum from descendants, and which I now own after it was deaccessioned and sold at auction.

Just for clarification and easy cross reference, my research shows that

-- her husband was Charles Boyle, 3rd Viscount Dungarvan, 3rd Baron Clifford ( bapt. 12 December 1639 – 12 October 1694}

-- she was the daughter of

William Seymour 2nd Duke Somerset


Frances Seymour, Duchess of Somerset (née Devereux; 30 September 1599[– 24 April 1674)

If it's in memorial, that makes me wonder from where the artist, Jacob Huysmans, took her likeness, as she looks to be in her mid late 30's perhaps, although she died young at 42.

Artist Jacob Huysmans died 17 yrs later after her (1696), so depending on how long after her death (1679) he was still working, at least puts an outside date on these portraits, in my opinion.

Jacinto Regalado,

Well, if this is Jane Seymour, Lady Boyle, who died in 1679, she was never widowed, as her husband died in 1694. Thus, the portrait would be a posthumous memorial to her, presumably c. 1680.

Debbie Langdon,

Thank you for the information on "Prince Frederick Duleep Singh's 'Portraits in Norfolk Houses' Vol II (pp 115-6: Oxburgh Hall no. 40 - see https://bit.ly/3bbEQHV).

I will view that with interest...and concur, you're right about the inscription.

FWIW, I've attached the provenance provided to me by the museum of 2nd portrait of Lady Jane Boyle (Seymour)

Jacinto Regalado,

So then Singh believed this portrait was of the Lady Jane Boyle born in 1699, which would perforce make it a Georgian picture even though it looks clearly 17th century, not even Queen Anne period. Well, I suppose it's possible the error did not originate with him, but evidently he found it plausible. Of course, to be fair, I've seen several 18th century pictures attributed to Lely, which is also remarkable.

Debbie Langdon,

Singh died before he finished Vol 2, so his friend offered to edit it to get it published.., so it's possible that an error was made.

Interesting that Lady Jane Boyle is listed twice; as TQL no. 40 and 41. and with a question mark right after her name, on pages 115 -6. I think they were just not sure about her. No reference to Seymour family relations.


I have seen a couple other errors on other names just randomly checking. ie: Princess *Elizabeth", daughter of King George and Queen Wilhemina. No such person. Then it said incorrectly that Wilhemina's father was William Frederick, Margrave

Osmund Bullock,

Ignore Prince Frederick Duleep Singh's opinions - he was a great enthusiast, but like most people of the time knew very little in terms of art historical detail. And as I explained in detail above, *none* of the book was actually written by him, though it was based entirely on his notes and photos, and it was put together and published after his death.

Debbie, I was pretty stunned by your previous post.

I had (mis)understood from the discussion intro that the (ex-Soc of Cincinnati) portrait you had bought was of the C18th Lady Mary Boyle (1699–1780), daughter of the 2nd Earl of Burlington (and granddaughter of Lord & Lady Dungarvan). I thought you had happened upon the Oxburgh Hall portrait while researching yours only because they shared a sitter name. But I now realise your portrait is not only of the same sitter as ours, but that they are versions of the same portrait. That changes the *whole* complexion of the discussion!

I am perplexed that you didn’t show us an image of your one, or link us to the ones at the auction house. For the benefit of everyone else, here they are: https://bit.ly/2WzLkuV. Yours is the top one, and there are several more images attached. I can say straight away that I’m sure yours is not from the Studio of Huysmans, nor in my opinion even of the late 17th Century in date. It is a decent enough copy – either of the one at Oxburgh, or there may be a prime original elsewhere – but to my eye the face in your painting clearly displays a later, probably 18th Century hand. Most of it is of good quality and in decent condition – apart, that is, for a problem area on the right where the cherub looks to have been crudely over-painted. This may well be associated with the repaired hole visible on the rear of the canvas.

Copies like this are abundant within old British families. While the very wealthy might order multiple versions from the original artist or his studio, it was far commoner (and cheaper) to order copies from a different artist as and when the need arose later on – e.g. when a daughter married or a younger son set up home on his own.

PS You don't really need to give us images where a link has already been provided (and repeated by you): https://bit.ly/3bbEQHV.

Osmund Bullock,

So if this copy (the one bought by Debbie) was recorded as being of Lady Jane Boyle (by which they meant, as we do, Viscountess Dungarvan) when in the possession of the Society of Cincinnati (and previously the Wetenhall > de Courcy > May families, through whom it had descended), then this is strong evidence that it is indeed of the Viscountess (née Lady Elizabeth Seymour). But was it? I am concerned that the auctioneers may have been researching the other portraits in the family group, several of which have counterparts at Oxburgh, spotted Oxburgh’s version of the same portrait, and took the identification from there.

Debie, do you know if the portrait (which has the SOC reference number, presumably for the whole group, of “M.1958.064.01– .03, .06, .10, .12, .14, .16, .18”) was already identified as Lady Jane Boyle before it was consigned to the Potomack Company? And if so, why did it apparently carry a hanging label identifying it as ‘Lady Augusta Wetenhall Saunders (Mrs Thomas Saunders)’? I might add that at least one identification of the others is incorrect – Lot 1013, catalogued as ‘John May’, is immediately recognisable as King Charles II.

There is a lot more work to be done here before we can pin down the identity of the sitter in the two portraits, and it will probably involve conversations with both the auctioneers and the Society of Cincinnati.

Osmund Bullock,

Jacinto, indeed - there seems no possible doubt that it must a memorial portrait if the sitter is Lady Dungarvan. But the question remains: is this her, or is the identity entirely spurious/mistaken?

Osmund Bullock,

Actually that's not quite true: it could conceivably relate to the death of a much-loved father/mother/sibling.

Osmund, Debbie's original email submission to Art Detective did contain an image of her picture, as a web page embedded in the text. I was going to look it up and post a link, because the embedded image is very poor, but you have beaten me to it. Thank you!

Howard Jones,

There is no obvious family resemblance between this Lady and the Mother Frances Devereux but there does appear to be a noticeable resemblance between this Lady and the father William Seymour 2nd Duke of Somerset. She appears to have had the misfortune to inherit the looks of he father's instead of her Frances.

In addition both father and daughter share a cleft chin. Regular viewers of Hugh Laurie's informative TV series 'Dr House' may know that this feature is usually passed down from one or both parents.

The facial resemblance to the Duke should add to our confidence that the identification of the sitter as Lady Jane Boyle is correct.


Debbie Langdon,

Looking at the two Lady Jane entries in Singh's book sheds the light on WHY are there were two portraits of Lady Jane inventoried by Singh at Oxborough hall.

My theory is that one has the putti, hourglass and stone,, the other does not. If we can find a photo of Inventoried Lady Jane #41, that would confirm my hunch. Anyone know if there are still two Lady Jane portraits still hanging at Oxborough Hall?

#41 would be an earlier Lady Jane portrait done when she was 25 yrs old (in 1654) and description DOES NOT mention a putti, empty hourglass, and stone with motto.

#40 is the memorial portrait. Husband employed Huysmans who used #41 for her likeness, and then just added the putti, hourglass and stone w motto "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord"

He or a family member commissioned at least one copy which ended up at Hextall Court in Kent with Sir Thomas Wetenhall. His daughter "removed the portraits to Cheston in Queen Anne's county, Maryland."

Of note; if #41 Jane was done in 1654, it may have been done by an earlier artist shortly after the marriage, since Huysmans would have been only be 21 yrs old at the time. I saw on National Trust website where a Lady Jane portrait was ascribed to Peter Lily who was in London at the time as the successor court artist. (see attached). Peter Lely painted other Wetenhall family members such as Katherine Wetenhall as Mary Magdalene. (see attached). That portrait also ended up going with the family to Maryland, USA.

Howard, I agree that daughters typically resemble their fathers more closely; sons their mothers. Jane had a sister Frances (Seymour) Darcy, see attached photo of her w husband, side by side comparison, very strong resemblance to each other.

Debbie Langdon,

Now, to throw in another twist to this story...

The Society of Cinncinati told the auction folks that based on the donor's story, they were told the portrait to be of Lady Augusta (nee Wetenhall) Saunders, wife of Sir Thomas Saunders. I have a copy of the id tag, and original auction posting and photo of Thomas (see attached)

Since the descendant who gave it to museum lived in Maryland, Henry Coleman de Courcy May, I did more research and found a reference to the paintings in "Certain Worthies and Dames of Old Maryland" , pg 493. also attached photo of relative, Mrs. Katherine Wetenhall, painted by Lely, in the same home.

It's interesting that whether her true identity is Lady Augusta or Lady Jane, both have references to Lely and/or Huysmans in common.

Mark Wilson 01,

I think this must be Singh's #41:


as it matches his description pretty closely. It's actually numbered 146 but his numbers don't go up to that.

The collection has it as Elizabeth Bedingfield nee Arundell, the second wife of the 2nd Bt of whom Singh doesn't appear to include a portrait. That would make her the mother-in-law of Elizabeth Bedingfield nee Boyle, though she died in 1690 the year the latter was born. This second Elizabeth is the grandaughter of Jane Boyle and presumably the route by which this portrait being discussed ended up at Oxburgh Hall.

There are considerable similarities between the portraits, though it could be due to coincidence and both being made at the same time. The collection gives Elizabeth as 1665-70, which must be too early if she was born 1655-6. I suppose Singh could have got both of them wrong and both are of Arundell, who also died young (about 35) and so would have been a suitable subject for a posthumous portrait.

Debbie Langdon,

Mark - well done! I believe you've found another candidate for Mystery Lady #41! The wisp of hair, pearl drop necklace, age 25, Head and Shoulder H and S, in oval corners does make a much better match.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Lady Boyle is simply NOT in mourning dress. Neither is she in fashionable dress. Her pearls are however fashionable as is her hair style. She wears a version of 'artistic' dress/draperies as was the vogue through much of 17th and 18th century women's portraiture. I would suggest dates of c 1655-1660. ( see portraits: Lady Lindsay c 1655 by Peter Lely; Two ladies of the Lake Family, c 1660, Tate); By 1670 hairstyles had widened around the head, as in the Lely portrait (Getty Centre of Duchess of Portsmouth) Hope this is useful.

Jacinto Regalado,

Huysmans may have come to England before the Restoration in 1660, but he is first recorded in England in 1662. However, if this is a posthumous portrait of the presumed sitter, it can be no earlier than 1679. Since he would only really need a face to work from, he may have used an earlier portrait, possibly a miniature. It is also conceivable that he deliberately used earlier fashion to show the lady as she would have been at an earlier time, though perhaps that is asking a portrait painter to be too "scientific," so to speak.

Jacinto Regalado,

It should also be noted that Huysmans, who was Catholic and thus favored by the Catholic queen of Charles II, could also have been favored by a Catholic family.

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