Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C 41 Who painted this betrothal portrait and its pair, and who is portrayed?

A Young Lady with a Plumed Headdress
Topic: Artist

Could this portrait of a young lady and accompanying gentleman https://bit.ly/33b92lL in the same Collection be linked to the artist Gilbert Jackson, represented on the Art UK website with 43 portraits, including a portrait of John Belasyse? https://bit.ly/3kQ38wj Both were bequeathed to the Collection by Miss Henrietta Close in 1947 along with two other portraits https://bit.ly/3cJ9fj5 https://bit.ly/36crVXf also dated 1633 and with Latin inscriptions indicating their age, as a family set of four.

Is there a way of identifying the sitters? Both dated 1633 and considered betrothal portraits as they both wear prominently displayed rings, the paintings include Latin inscriptions indicating she is 15 and he is 27 years old. In spite of this and a prominent coat of arms on the portrait of the gentleman, it has not been possible to identify the family from which they come.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

41 comments

Christopher Foley,

It will be very straightforward to identify the sitter(s) from the armorial achievements if we could have an enlargement of the upper left of the painting of the gentleman to clarify the details. Martin's suggested attribution to Gilbert Jackson is eminently sensible as comparison with the attached portrait of Jane (nee Savage) Marchioness of Winchester (1606-1631) shows. That picture, which I owned until recently, is signed and dated 1632, the year after she died, whilst heavily pregnant, of "an impostume of the throat". There is another signed portrait of her by Jackson, full length, which I seem to recall in a collection in Yorkshire, which had descended from her son Charles, Duke of Bolton. I recently discovered that Jackson lived in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell on the Oxford/Berkshire borders, which explains why there are quite a number of portraits by him in various Oxford Colleges. Jackson's self-portrait with his son, George Jnr., is in a private collection in France to which it has descended (tortuously) from the artist.

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Howard Jones,

The quality of the portrait of the gentleman appears to be much better than the quality of the painting for the coat of arms so it looks like a later addition.

S. Elin Jones,

Is it possible that these portraits are by the painter Cornelius Johnson?
According to the Harrow Observer, Henrietta Close of Chiswick House, Pinner, left four paintings by Cornelius Jensen in her will to the “National Art Collections Fund, Hertford House”. Miss Close died on the 13th March, 1945.
Could they have been reditributed from there to the Manchester Art Gallery?
The archives to the N.A.C.F are kept in the Tate Gallery archive. If they are the same paintings, it would be interesting to see what they were recorded as at the time of bequest.

Whether the attribution at the time was correct or not, there are some interesting textural similarities between this painting and another of Elizabeth Campion by Cornelius Johnson, 1631, with regards to techniques/style used especially when highlighting metallic elements of the bodices/dresses.

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The four portraits bequeathed by Henrietta Close to the then National Art Collections Fund in 1945 were allocated to Manchester Art Gallery in 1947:

https://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/art-weve-helped-buy/artwork/1593/1-a-young-lady-with-a-plumed-headdress-2-a-gentleman-3-a-lady-holding-a-jewel-4-an-old-lady-in-a-ruff

It is possible that their attribution to Cornelius Johnson was questioned then or at a later stage.

S. Elin Jones,

Yes, that’s quite possible Mr Green. The uncertainty between these two artists are understandable and is not new.

If I had access to the archive of the National Art Collections Fund (as was), I’d be very tempted to have a look to see what original documention accompanied the bequest. It was be surprising if there wasn’t any more information than is noted on the Artfund website.

Christopher Cole,

Regarding the heraldry, the armorial bearings are of a gentleman or Esquire impaled with his wife's. The left of the shield (as we see it) are his arms which are quartered with two other blazons, both of which are also quartered. These quartered arms are usually of other family names where there are no male descendants, that he has inherited. Whether the bird in both the first quartering and the crest is a falcon, eagle, badly drawn sparrow hawk or something else is difficult to know as the painting of the arms is poor. The wife's coat of arms are on the right and most likely are "Argent, a Fess Gules between three Wolf Heads (?) erased Proper, langued Gules" She is the daughter of a second son as the shield bears a crescent as its cadency mark. The only arms I can possibly (if they are Cinquefoils) identify (according to John Guillim's Display of Heraldry 1724) are those of the 1st and 3rd quarterings in the 3rd quartering "Or, on a bend Azure, three Cinquefoils pierced of the field" which were granted in 1578 to Arthur Herris or Herrys of Cryxsey in Essex but with a mullet or molet (5 pointed star) for difference, which denotes a 3rd son, whereas these arms have an unidentifiable red splodge: in "Sinister Chief Splodge Gules" which more likely denotes a bad heraldic artist. I am in agreement with Howard Jones that the Armorial Bearings were added by another artist as the quality of the lace and silk fabrics in these portraits is exquisite.

Christopher Foley,

I have asked Thomas Woodcock (Garter Principal of Arms) if he could identify the arms: I will relay his thoughts when I receive them. I agree that the painting of the arms is crude in the extreme compared with the painting of the portrait, and it must betoken another hand. Interestingly, Gilbert Jackson's father Anthony was a part-time herald, though of course there is no evidence to suggest that he painted these arms. I would imagine that they are either exactly contemporary with the picture, or added shortly afterwards, since the pigments appear to be typical of the 17th century (eg lead-tin yellow and lead white) and the mantling is 17th century in style.

I am attaching a portrait of the mid-1630's of Gilbert Jackson's wife Anne, to whom a probate bond was issued in 1672 following the death of her husband (described as "limner"). Whilst it is far too dirty to permit an unassailable attribution to Jackson, it does show close compositional comparisons with the portrait of the Old Lady which is one of the set of four pictures in Manchester. It still belongs to the descendants of Gilbert Jackson the painter.

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Kieran Owens,

One of the other quarterings appears to use three bows or longbows, which might be an unusual enough choice of symbol that it might allow for a rapid identification.

Tim Williams,

The Bowes family has a similar device Kieran.

Christopher Foley,

I have received the following from Thomas Woodcock, which seems to identify the sitters conclusively:

"I am happy to go into the heraldry in detail if you wish but as I am short of time am writing with the answer and a copy of the rough pedigree which I wrote out whilst looking at the problem. If any part needs expanding I am happy to do so.

The older couple are I think Richard Millet of Denham in Buckinghamshire who died in 1638 and his wife Grace nee Newman. They were the parents of a daughter and heir Mary, who was the wife of William Buggin of St. John Street in London and of North Cray in Kent. I attach a rough pedigree with my working notes. The sitter in the portrait with the arms was William Buggin of St. John Street in London and of North Cray in Kent who married Mary Millet on 2nd September 1632 at Denham, Bucks. William Buggin inherited the North Cray property from his maternal grandfather William Bowes of St. John Street, co: Middlesex and of North Cray in Kent who died on 5th April 1633 aged 76. William Buggin’s father also William Buggin died in 1618 which is why the older couple must be the wife’s parents.

The heraldry shows in 1&4 Buggin Sable a Cockatrice displayed Argent crowned Or with the crest of A crowned Cockatrice rising Argent crowned Or which appear in a Confirmation of the Arms and an alteration of the crest made to William Buggin’s grandfather Edward Buggin or Buggins, M.P. for Totnes, who died in 1590. The Patent is dated 20th April 1578. It is quartering in the second quarter Bowes as granted to Sir Martin Bowes (1497-1566), Mayor of London in 1545 with a quartering. Sir Martin Bowes was the father of William Bowes (died 1633). In the third quarter are the quartered arms of Herys alias Harrys. William Bowes married Mary, eldest daughter and coheir of Robert Harrys also of St. John Street, a J.P. His original Grant of Arms dated 20th December 1569 is in the College of Arms and the quartering of Gules a Chevron between three Cross crosslets Or is stated to be the arms of his mother without naming her.

The wife’s arms are Argent a Fess Gules between three Dragon’s Heads Vert. These are the arms of Millet.

If you would like me to expand on any of this I am happy to do so."

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Osmund Bullock,

Ha, ha...I finally worked this out last night, too, Christopher! I've been doing background research and writing it up all day, but Garter has beaten me to it; quite right, too, as he has access to the quite fantastic, but private resources of the College of Arms - I had to rely largely on Papworth's 'Ordinary' (plus Burke's 'Heraldry') as a starting point, and take it on from there. No matter, it's done, and I can stand down and empty the 17.5 MB file I have on it.

PS You must have an extremely good relationship with Thomas W, Christopher. As you will know his official salary is just £49 per annum (plus I think some expenses), and like all heralds he has to make his living from doing private work. In my experience the College is thus (understandably) very reluctant to to give out any information gratis!

Martin Hopkinson,

Edward Hasted's great 3 volume work of 1797 should have something to say about North Cray Place [of which the gardens survive] and the Buggins famiy - The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent volume 2.
Elizabeth Buggin's monument is in North Cray church [Pevsner , pp. 435-6] .There is an elaborate pulpit of 1637 and a major reredos and stalls with reliefs after Durer, and a painting of the Crucifixion attributed to Gessi [Francesco Gessi 1588 -1649], a pupil of Guido Reni
John Buggin sold the estate in 1710 o Thomas d'Aeth

Osmund Bullock,

Actually I won't dump the file just yet. I have a few things to add, and it may be useful to have my resources to hand if people want further clarifications.

As Garter has said, William Buggin(s) and Mary Millet(t) were married at Denham on 2 Sep 1632 - so if the 1633 date on the portraits is correct, this would appear too late to be celebrating their betrothal. The "aged 14 in 1618" on Garter's rough pedigree must refer to William - he was baptised on 21 June 1604, at Clerkenwell. Mary was baptised at Denham on 24 July 1617. This, however, would make them 28 or 29 & 15 or 16 respectively (assuming they were christened within a few weeks of their birth, as was normal - if they weren't then they would be even older!). Hers is fine, and I think his is close enough not to worry about - and besides, if the portraits were begun in mid-June 1632 (and indeed marked the betrothal), that falls in a short window when he was 27 and she 15. The paintings may not have been finished until the following year, but perhaps they decided to keep their ages as they were when first betrothed.

Mark Wilson,

I'm not quite sure what Thomas Woodcock means by "The older couple" as both of the other two pictures willed by Henrietta Close are of women and one of them (the Lady Holding a Jewel) may be from 1580-1600 according to the collection.

The other portrait however:

https://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/portrait-of-an-old-lady-in-a-ruff-204556

is also dated 1633 and inscribed "AEts 54". This suggests it is probably the groom's mother, Elizabeth Bowes, who according to her memorial (that Martin mentions) in St James Church, North Cray "died 29/09/1659 age 79 years":

https://www.localprayers.com/GB/London/394954517332345/St-James-Church,-North-Cray

which also implies a birth date of around 1580.

Osmund Bullock,

I'm sure you're right about that one, Mark. I'll try and find the record of her baptism, which should be circa 1578-80. 'Aetatis [suae] xx' can often mean in his/her xxth year rather than the actual age, and 1579-80 would perhaps fit the memorial age better.

The Art UK description of the other portrait makes no sense. First it says she is "in seventeenth-century dress", then claims the costume is typical of c.1580–1600 (which it certainly isn't); finally it gives the inscriptions on it as "AEts. 40" and "1633" (like all the others). We are looking, it seems, for a woman in the family born c.1592-4.

Mark Wilson,

Osmund - That will teach me always to click on the + button. I did think the other portrait looked too much of a piece with the others, but meant to come back to it later.

The obvious candidate for the other portrait would be the bride's mother, Grace Millet, nee Newman, though if her husband didn't die till 1638 you wonder why there isn't one of him as well.

To add a completely random fact to the family tree, the groom's sister Ann was the mother of the great mathematician Isaac Barrow:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Barrow

Osmund Bullock,

There's something awry re the memorial to Elizabeth Buggin (née Bowes) at North Cray. She cannot have died in Sept 1659, as her Will was proved at the PCC on 27 Oct 1657 - it's definitely her, I've just ploughed my way through it (her grandson Isaac Barrow is briefly mentioned). Not sure who made the error – it could just be the website you found it on, or they may have got it wrong on the memorial itself (not as rare as you might think). I can’t as yet find a birth/baptism date for her.

Elizabeth has the distinction of having both a grandchild and a grandparent with a substantial biography in the DNB - her paternal grandfather was the controversial Sir Martin Bowes (1496/7–1566), Goldsmith & Lord Mayor of London (https://bit.ly/3l3yM9K). It was his third marriage to Elizabeth Harlow that introduced another of the quarters in William Buggin's coat of arms - it's the small blue and yellow one (or more correctly azure & or) that's quartered with the three bows of the Bowes family.

If, as seems likely, Elizabeth is the sitter in the 'Old lady in a ruff' portrait (https://bit.ly/36crVXf), that might give Manchester a reason to get it out of store - a pity, though, it's not as attractive as their other one (?perhaps Grace Millet - still working on it), which is in desperate need of an excuse for some pricey conservation.

Kieran Owens,

More on the Buggin and Bowes connection can be seen here, originally published in 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2' by W Bristol (Canterbury, 1797).

You are correct in you suspicion, Osmund, as the 1797 text gives Elizabeth's date of death as 1657. The 1659 citation above might have resulted from a transcription error:

https://archive.org/details/b28772155_0002/page/148/mode/2up

and

https://archive.org/details/b28772155_0002/page/158/mode/2up

See also attached.

Kieran Owens,

The attached composite description of the mural monument to the memory of Elizabeth Buggin (née Bowes) in St. James, North Cray, as taken from the 1769 edition of the 'Registrum Roffense' by John Thorpe, pretty much sums up the coat of arms on the painting. Her date of death is specifically given as the 29th September 1657, aged 79.

Kieran Owens,

As a note on the donor, Henrietta Close (1871 - 1945) was better known as Etta Close, OBE, FRGS, an author of travel books, including 'A Woman Alone in Kenya, Uganda and the Belgian Congo' (Constable, 1924), and 'Excursions and Some Adventures' (Constable, 1926).

As mentioned above, she died, a spinster, at Chiswick House, Pinner, on the 13th March 1945, leaving an estate valued at £18,574.

She was the daughter of Henry Gaskell Close (Naples, 1836 - London, 1913) and Ellinor Caroline Louisa Mainwaring (Lloder Hall, Cheshire, 1848 - London, 1919). Her maternal grandfather was Sir Harry Mainwaring (1807 - 1855), Bart., of Peover Hall, Over-Peover, the son of Sir Henry Mainwaring (1782 - 1860), 1st Baronet of Peover Hall.

A bust of the author was made by the sculptor David Evans in c.1928.

The Liverpool Daily Post, of Saturday 17th March 1945, carried a short but sweet notice of her passing (see attached).

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks, Kieran - the last, especially, is a very good find.

Bowes Buggin was actually Anne Barrow's brother, not her uncle. It gets confusing because of the repetition of given names over the generations.

William Buggin(s) of St John’s, Clerkenwell [d.1618], who married the heiress Elizabeth Bowes [d.1657], had six children: our sitter's husband, William Buggin(s) [1604-1657]; the Rev Bowes Buggin [d.Feb 165⅞]; Butler (or Botiler) Buggin [1609-167⅞]; Elizabeth [married Robert Bowyer]; Mary [b.1605, married William Adam]; and Anne [b.1606, married Thomas Barrow]. Attached is an early pedigree that clarifies this.

The younger brothers Bowes and Butler died without issue; but the eldest William, who in 1632 married our sitter Mary Millet(t) [1617-1659], had a host of children, many with the same names: William, John, Butler, Bowes, Richard, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, Rachel and Grace. And the repetition continues in subsequent generations.

I think I'd quite like to be called Butler Buggin.

Osmund Bullock,

When I said "the last" I meant the post that is now the one *before* your last!

S. Elin Jones,

There was a lovely little letter written to The Liverpool Daily Post in March of 1945 by an old friend of Etta Close, on hearing the news of her death. She certainly sounded like an interesting lady.

It gave a fascinating brief overview of her life, as well as a quote of a description she gave of herself, which really does help to understand a little more of the character of Etta Close.

“I have a face of a horse, the strength of a Hercules, the hide of a hippopotamus, a hank of hair on my head, and have not a fear or a care, so I am safe anywhere”.

“Toast my memory when I am gone” she would say.

The O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) was given “for services in providing comforts for New Zealand Officers in London” during WW1. As was seen in the attachment of the post of the 28/09/20, the diamond wrist-watch the was gifted to her from those Officers, was donated to the Imperial War Museum on her death.

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Osmund Bullock,

Yes, the Mainwarings are probably worth a deeper look in search of a connection, as they were seated at Peover for many hundreds of years, until 1919. Henrietta was actually christened at Lower Peover, on 13 Aug 1871 (attached). The Closes, certainly, and I think the Gaskells were 'new money', which makes a link with them less likely. See second attachment.

However, the Gaskells owned or leased several major old houses in the C19th (e.g. Loxley Hall, Staffs; Condover Hall, Salop; Kirtlington Pk, Oxon), and it was quite common then to acquire a house complete with remaining contents (the more valuable pictures having been retained by the old family, or sent up to London to be sold). A thorough search for connected Buggin descendants thus becomes more complicated...one needs to look at the *former* owners of houses with a link to the Closes & Gaskells.

Kieran Owens,

Hi Osmund,

in a footnote on page 92 of "Before Newton: The Life and Times of Isaac Barrow", edited by Mordecai Feingold, it states that "Another former member of Peterhouse was his (Barrow's) mother's uncle, who received his M.A. in 1633 and who may have also influenced the choice of a college for his nephew." This and the Peterhouse record suggests that Bowes Buggin was William Buggin's brother, not Ann's. Is this a case of their making a mistake with the generations? Or am I misreading this?

Christopher Cole,

I'm delighted Garter has identified the Armorial Bearings in such detail as I still think the Millet arms look more like wolf heads Proper than dragon heads Vert! The tincture has faded. At least I was correct regarding the Herys or Harrys arms.

Kieran Owens,

Christopher, Elizabeth Buggin (née Bowes) died on the 29th September 1657. For Millet, the attachment above (which you might not have seen), from the 1769 edition of John Thorpe's 'Registrum Roffense', describes its "escutcheon of pretence" as being "a fess gules between three griffins heads erased vert, langued gules".

Regarding the Millet arms, the following might be of interest:

http://tonymillett.tripod.com/arms.html

The site states that the original Millett coat of arms was granted by William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, to John Millet of Hayes Court, Hayes, Middlesex in 1616. An illustration is included therein.

He also describes your Herys or Harrys arms as "5th, Gules, a chevron Or, between three croslets (sic) of the second."

Do these descriptions help with the identification of the families? I am attaching the composite again here for your convenience and consideration.


Mark Wilson,

Henrietta Close sounds quite a character. I'm not sure that these will be family pictures however, though that was my first thought. She was the eldest child and when she died had several younger siblings living (and they may have had children). Possibly none of them wanted the pictures or she had fallen out with them, but it could also be that she had bought them or been given by a friend.

As already noted both sides of her family also seem to have come from Cheshire/Manchester rather than Kent/London, though that could explain why the pictures ended up being given to the former city.

Manchester Art Gallery,

I just want to express my wonder at your achievements here. Is it really true that you have a certain identity for all four of the portraits? Our file at the Gallery has a whole history of people attempting to do this (also photographs of a Gilbert Jackson painting and a Cornelius Johnson painting as comparators but neither quite settled on as an attribution). The fee suggested by the Lancaster Herald to identify the arms in 2002 proved the last insurmountable budgetary stumbling block.
Sadly there are no correspondence records with the NACF that I can find, which is unusual.
The trouble is I find the language of heraldry so alien that can't quite be certain I've understood this discussion in detail, and I would appreciate a moderator's summary, if that's possible. If it means what I think it means, then I am looking forward to giving these portraits their new titles on our records.
Thanks again,
Hannah Williamson
Curator, Fine Art, Manchester Art Gallery

Mark Wilson,

Hannah - thanks to the Garter King of Arms' unsurpassed expertise I think we can safely identify the young couple and the credit must go to him. It clearly needs decades of experience of looking at bad 17th century heraldic artists to know that the scraggy-looking eagle was really a cockatrice (I was wondering if the groom was Polish) and that the slightly comical wolves were really dragons. From this could then deduce the identity of the young couple, who must be:

William Buggin (bap 21 June) 1604 - 1657

Mary Millet (bap 24 July) 1617 - 1659

With baptismal dates as discovered by Osmund.

Although these are described as betrothal portraits they are dated 1633 after their marriage at the bride's home village of Denham, Bucks on 2 September 1632. Osmund suggests the ages may imply a betrothal in June/July 1632 The dates and ages were perhaps added a bit later, which might explain them clashing (they would have been 29 and 16 in 1633), possibly by the same hand that added the arms.

Just as usefully Thomas Woodcock also produced an invaluable family tree with additional information for them:

https://d3d00swyhr67nd.cloudfront.net/_file/art_detective/buggin-1.pdf

From this we can almost certainly work out from her age in 1633 that the Lady in a Ruff is the groom's mother who was :

Elizabeth Buggin (née Bowes) ?1578 - 29 September 1657

based on dates from her memorial in St James Church, North Cray (the 1659 I quoted seems to have been a website typo or because the date was recarved when the church was rebuilt in 1852). She would have been 54 in 1632, which matches the picture date.

The heraldry operates as a sort of family tree as well. On the groom's (left-hand) side of the shield, the 1st (NW) and 4th (SE) quarters with the cockatrice derive from his father, but the 2nd (NE) Q comes from Elizabeth's father, William, in that you see the arms (Q 1 & 4) of his father Sir Martin Bowes and (Q 2 & 3) his mother, Sir Martin's third wife, Elizabeth Harlowe.

The 3rd (SW) Q are the arms of Elizabeth Buggin's mother, Mary Harys (ie Harris), the daughter of Robert Harys. Now women don't normally pass on their father's arms to their sons unless they have no living brothers, so Elizabeth was not just an heiress but the daughter of one. Indeed she inherited North Cray Place from her father at about this time, which explains why she was buried there rather than London.. These arms are saying as much about wealth as lineage.

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks for that summary, Mark. I was planning to do something similar for Hannah, but I've been prevailed upon to concentrate my current efforts on completing the details of Jansen the ship painter...which I am doing, Pieter, truly!

But in case the discussion should suddenly close, I wanted to add one thing about the poor quality of the painting of the coat-of-arms on William Buggin's portrait, and in particular the erroneous and/or unclear charges that have caused so much difficulty in identifying the heraldry. While the arms may have been added a bit later, it is clear that they were painted before or at the same time as his inscription - the latter is placed differently from those on the other portraits in order to accommodate the shield and mantling. Furthermore, since his wife, Mary Millet's arms are impaled (i.e. side-by-side) with his, this should mean that she was not at that stage an heraldic heiress - if she were, her coat should be in an 'escutcheon of pretence' (i.e a small shield with her arms in the middle of her husband's). This in turn means the arms must (or at least should) date from before her father Richard's death in Sep 1638, even though her only brother Richard had died in 1624 at the age of 2: technically no woman's arms can be shown 'in pretence' while her father is alive, as theoretically he may yet produce a male heir.

Since there is no apparent issue with the quality of the inscription, and the portrait itself is very fine, I am inclined to think that the problem with the arms is the result of a later 'restoration' - to my eye there are clear signs of overpainting there, and note that the area has cracks running through it. This is not uncommon - I have seen a number of examples of arms on portraits, especially ones painted on panel, where the arms make no sense at all, and have clearly been altered. In this case the restorer did quite well in copying what was still visible of the original. The basic colours of the fields are more or less right (though some black ermine spots are missing), but he couldn't quite make out the detail of dragons' heads and cockatrices' bodies (who can blame him!); and with the tinier charges on the smaller shields (which should have included leopards' heads, swans and martlets - birds without feet) has contented himself with fairly generic blobs of paint.

If and when it becomes possible for the portrait(s) to receive the attention of really good conservators, a careful investigation of the coat of arms may well reveal much better quality work beneath.

It would be good to return to Martin Hopkinson’s original question about the artist in question here, whether these could be portraits by Gilbert Jackson. Manchester Art Gallery’s Curator Hannah Williamson’s comment 26/10/20 makes it clear that Gilbert Jackson or Cornelius Johnson have been considered over the years by the Gallery. Christopher Foley’s comment 26/09/20 has thoughts relating to Jackson, E Jones’ comment 28/09/20 has thoughts relating to Johnson. E Jones and Richard Green 28/09/20 both suggested that accessing the NACF files in the Tate Archive could help resolve this. Hannah Williamson has confirmed Manchester do not have correspondence records with the NACF, so does everyone agree that this post-lockdown accessing the NACF files in the Tate Archive would be the best next step?

Mark Wilson,

Apologies, I meant to continue my interim summary of what is known so far, together with some random guesses, but had some software problems and got diverted. The identity of the sitter of the remaining portrait is slightly less certain at the moment. The obvious candidate would be the bride's mother Grace Millett née Newman, but to be sure we really should have separate proof that she was 40 in 1632, though that's plausible enough. Osmund has clearly been able to unearth a bit more about the family but whether that can be found is another matter.

What is certain is that the ArtUK description that "The costume is typical of c.1580–1600" isn't right. On the contrary it is very 1632 as seen both in her daughter's dress and more elaborate versions such as this date 1631:

https://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/lady-margaret-hungerford-263000

and especially this from 1633, which might even be the same woman (less well painted) in the same dress, accessorised differently:

https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/portrait-of-a-lady-with-a-lace-collar-holding-a-tulip-3564

And of course she isn't holding a jewel but a pendant made of the same ribbon as used at her waist and elbows, as are the other examples.

Which leads us to the matter of who painted them. I'm going to confuse the issue and suggest they might not all be by the same hand. The Lady with a Ruff looks to me as if it might be by a different artist. It is a bit wider by about 4 cm than the other three and the 'feigned oval' is of a different design. But most of all it has a different feel, nearer to, but not the same as, contemporary Dutch paintings.

The obvious candidate for this is probably still Cornelius Johnson, who, though English-born was more influenced by Dutch painting. And as Wiki says he painted "hundreds of portraits of the emerging new gentry" which fits these families very well. He also seems to have lived in Kent from the mid-30s at least, so there may be a link there, though Elizabeth may well have split her time between her father's estate in North Cray and her late husband's business interests in Clerkenwell. I do also wonder if the portrait might be a little bit earlier than 1632, though after she was widowed in 1618, maybe around 1625 - 1630 or so. It would really need an expert such as Karen Hearn to say.

As to the other three, perhaps we could attribute those to Gilbert Jackson. The Millett's home on Denham, Bucks, where the wedding took place, is as near to Jackson's base at Brightwell-cum-Sotwell as it is to London. They seem to match the better pictures attributed to him from around that time, both in quality and details such as the shape of the ovals. Though I suspect a lot of the poorer ones end up with his name because there aren't that many alternatives in the 1630s. Again an expert is needed.

Osmund's probably right about the arms having suffered from damage and later restoration, I was basically mocking my own confusion with them. Though I suspect it might be standard that arms were added later by a specialist painter, acquainted with the minutiae of heraldry. In itself even a few months of delay might make them a bit vulnerable. However a lot of Jackson's work (for example) from the period has similar inscriptions, so they could have been done by the portraitist.

The provenance trail should certainly be tracked through the NACF files, the fact that these pictures have been kept together suggests in itself an interesting history. Though Henrietta Close's will could also have details - of course there could be a copy of that in the files if there were detailed instructions.

Osmund Bullock,

I've just ordered Henrietta's Will - I'm not confident it will tell us anything useful, but at only £1.50 for an emailed image it's worth a shot. Estimated delivery date is 2 Dec, which may or may not be taking lockdown into account. I'm actually slightly stunned by how cheap it is - it was £10 when you had to get a paper one. The GRO also now offer emailed images of older birth & death certificates, but their discount for online ordering and delivery is ungenerous: £7 as against £11 for the paper type. I think they’re making too much money to want to give it up...

I'm afraid I cannot find a convincing baptism record for Grace Millett née Newman, unless she be the Grace, daughter of Hugh Neweman, christened at Chesterton, Cambridge on 21 May 1587. It's not *that* far, I suppose – 22 miles – from Buntingford, Herts, which the 1634 Herald’s Visitation of Bucks gives as the home/seat of Grace’s father (unnamed, alas). Nor can I find a marriage near Buntingford (it was not a parish itself), or indeed anywhere, else for Richard Millet(t) & Grace; it probably took place c.1615-16, or perhaps earlier if the couple had trouble reproducing, as it seems. Grace’s age was apparently not given in her burial record at Denham in April 1666 (though I’ve only seen a transcription), nor can I find mention of a memorial relating to her in the church. And finally, I can see no names in her Will that might enable her family to be pinned down – a Newman cousin, for instance, or indeed anyone at all in Herts or Cambs.

A birth year of c.1587 is still perfectly plausible for her – her husband Richard was baptised at Hayes in Apr 1590 – but I’m not sure we’ll ever prove it. I don’t suppose anyone lives near Denham, do they? – there might be a helpful inscription in the church that has gone unrecorded.

Manchester Art Gallery,

An update from the collection. Following the heraldry revelation we have added to each of the descriptions for the 4 works in question.
I have updated the Art UK records with these new descriptions.

These might be updated further if more information is discovered.
John

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