Lady Margaret Denny, born Margaret Edgcumbe, wife of Sir Edward Denny

Oil Painting
(painted)
Lady Margaret Denny, born Margaret Edgcumbe, wife of Sir Edward Denny  thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a portrait of Margaret Denny (1560-1648), born Margaret Edgcumbe, who married Edward Denny (1547-1600) in 1585 and is thought to have been maid of honour to Elizabeth I and a correspondent of Philip Sidney. There are three other known versions of this portrait, including one in Mount Edgcumbe House in which the details of costume and pose are almost identical but for the forefinger of the right hand which is bent back rather than extended, as in the V&A version. It is one of five oil portraits of sitters from the 16th and 17th centuries that came to the museum from the Denny family in the late 19th century, all of which seem to be later copies. This is typical of the practice of making copies for successive generations of a family, as different branches of a family wished to own and display portraits of their forebears.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil painting, Lady Margaret Denny, born Margaret Edgcumbe, wife of Sir Edward Denny, British school, manner of 17th century, possibly 18th century
Physical Description
Three-quarter length portrait of an older woman dressed in black with a white silk ruff and sleeves holding a prayer book in her left hand, on which is a ring placed on her little finger. An inscription is visible top right.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 42in
  • Estimate width: 33in
  • Height: 106.68cm
  • Width: 83.82cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
‘Margaret Daughter/ of Pierce [sic] Edgcumbe of Mount / Edgcumbe Wife of / Sir Edward Denny’. (The painting is inscribed, top right, ‘Margaret Daughter/ of Pierce [sic] Edgcumbe of Mount / Edgcumbe Wife of / Sir Edward Denny’.)
Credit line
Given by Sir Edward Denny, Bt
Object history
This painting was gifted to the museum by Sir Edward Denny, Bart., in 1882, along with four other portraits of the Denny family (Nominal File MA/1/D907). The original cataloguing described the five portraits as:



1510-1882 - Sir Edward Denny, Knight Banneret (d. 1599), uncle of Edward Denny, Earl of Norwich.



1511-1882 - Margaret Edgcumbe, Wife of Sir Edward Denny, Kt. Bann.



1512-1882 - Edward Denny, Earl of Norwich (about 1565-1630)



1513-1882 - Hill Denny, Son of Peter Denny of Spaldwick.



53-1889 - Joan Champernoune, daughter of Sir Philip Champernoune, of Modbury, Devon, and widow of Sir Anthony Denny, who died in 1549



The correct descriptions are:



1510-1882: Sir Edward Denny (1547-1600), uncle of Edward Denny, first earl of Norwich (1569-1637).



1511-1882: Lady Margaret Denny, born Margaret Edgcumbe, wife of Sir Edward Denny



1512-1882: Edward Denny, first earl of Norwich (1569-1637)



1513-1882: Hill Denny, son of Peter Denny of Spaldwick; the Reverend Hill Denny was a great grandson of Sir Edward Denny (1547-1600).



53-1889: Joan Champernon, daughter of Sir Philip Champernon of Modbury, Devon, and wife of Sir Anthony Denny (d.1549)



In addition to the above portraits, Sir Edward Denny also gave to the museum the following textiles and documents which were originally catalogued as follows:



“TEXTILES

Pair of Gloves: English, early 17th century. (1506 & A-1882.)

Silver-gilt and silver thread with sequins, seed pearls, purl & silk in satin stitch and couched work on satin. Trimmed with silver-gilt and silver bobbin lace. Said to have belonged to Henry VIII, but crowned roses and thistles refer more to the period of James I (1603-25)



Pair of Gloves: Early 17th century. (1508 & A-1882)

Silver-gilt and silver thread in plaited braid stitch with bands of braid applied to satin. Trimmed with silver-gilt & silver fringe. Said to have been given by James I to Denny who, as Sheriff of Hertfordshire, received the King during his journey from Scotland.



Pair of Mittens: English, late 16th century (1507 & A-1882)

Silver-gilt and silver thread with silk in long and short and satin stitches, and couched work, on velvet and satin. Said to have been presented by Queen Elizabeth I to Margaret Edgcumbe, wife of Denny.



Military Scarf: English (?) Second quarter of 17th century. (1509-1882)

Silver-gilt & silver thread with silk in long and short stitch couched work on silk. Said to have been worn by Charles I at Edghill and given by him after the battle to Mr. Adam Hill of Spaldwick who saved the King’s life.”



“DOCUMENTS

1. An account of the gloves, mittens & scarf, given to Sir Anthony Denny and his family, by different Kings and Queens of Great Britain. London, 1792. Printed on vellum with manuscript notes added.

2. Certaine epistles addressed to the Lord Denny of Waltham and the members of his family by Joseph Hall, D.D. Bishop of Norwich. Manuscript on vellum.

3. The will of Anthony Denny, of Chesthunt, in the countie of Hartford, knight, temp. Edw. VI. Manuscript on parchment.

4. A copy, in manuscript, of this will, made in 1745, bound, with a portrait of Sir Anthony Denny inserted.

5. A volume containing manuscript and printed notes relating to the Royal Gifts, and to the Denny family, with original letters.”



In 2014 an email from Nicholas Smith (Archivist, V&A Archive) to Thomas Denny (representative of the Denny Family Trust) describes Document 1. in more detail as follows:



“Original manuscript of “An account of the gloves, mittens, and scarf, given to Sir A. Denny and his family’, relating to objects presented to the Denny family by various sovereigns, probably written ca. 1710 by H. Denny, with annotations by Sir E. Denny, bart., 1 leaf, parchment. With camera lucida drawing by John Varley of monument to Sir Edward Denny, Waltham Abbey, 1821; and with press-cuttings from the Kerry Magazine, [after 1850], and notes by Sir Edward Denny, bart., who presented the Denny manuscripts and relics to the South Kensington Museum in 1883. Bound with: Diary kept by Sir Edward (d. 1646), Sir Arthur (d. 1673) and Sir Thomas (d. 1761) Denny, mainly concerned with family matters. Pressmark: 86.FF.53”



There are further papers concerning the Denny Family Trust on the Departmental files for the 5 paintings. This includes an annotated family tree tracing the versions of these portraits.



Historical context
This is a portrait of Margaret Denny (1560-1648), born Margaret Edgcumbe, eldest daughter of Piers and Margaret Edgcumbe of Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall. Piers/Pierce Edgcumbe (1536-1604) was High Sheriff of Devon and MP for Cornwall and Liskeard. In 1585 Margaret married Edward Denny (1547-1600) (see museum number 1510-1882), a soldier and fifth son of Sir Anthony Denny (1501-1549), privy councillor and royal favourite of Henry VIII, and of Joan Denny (see museum number 53-1889). Edward Denny was knighted while in service to Elizabeth I in Ireland in October 1588. Margaret is said to have been maid of honour to Elizabeth I, and a correspondent of Philip Sidney (see Cotehele, Cornwall, [now National Trust] Guidebook, 1991 edition, p.18). The V&A holds a pair of mittens, English, late 16th century (museum numbers 1507 & A-1882) said to have been presented by Queen Elizabeth I to Margaret ‘her own favourite maid of honour’ (quote from Cotehele, Cornwall [now National Trust] Guidebook, 1991 edition, p.18). Margaret had seven sons and three daughters. Sir Edward was said to have died in Ireland, but the evidence seems to show that he died in Bishop’s Stortford on 12 February 1600. The parish church of Waltham Abbey in Essex records his burial there on the 14th February. Margaret died in 1648 and a brightly painted wall monument, with effigies commemorating Sir Edward Denny and Margaret, is still in the parish church of Waltham Abbey, Essex (commonly called ‘Waltham Abbey Church’, or ‘Holy Cross and St. Lawrence, Waltham Abbey’).



Another version of this portrait of Lady Margaret Denny (born Edgcumbe) is held at Mount Edgcumbe House, the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe and now jointly owned by Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council (see ‘BBC Your Paintings’ at www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/ ). The V&A’s version is inscribed top right ‘Margaret Daughter/ of Pierce Edgcumbe of Mount / Edgcumbe Wife of / Sir Edward Denny’. The Mount Edgcumbe version, which was bought in 1985, is inscribed within a border, ‘The portrait of the truly honoured Lady Margaret Denny descended of the ancient family of the Edgcombs Cornewall. A Maid of Honour in Ordinary for 5 years to Queen Elizabeth of blessed memorie. Then married to S Edward Denny Knight Groome of her m'ties privie Chamber who departed this life April 24th 1648 aged 88 years and in the 48 yeare of her widowhood.’ The Mount Edgcumbe version has armorials to the left of the sitter’s head; the Denny arms alongside the Edgcumbe ones hanging from a red ribbon. It is dated to around 1620 when Margaret Denny would have been about 60 years of age.



Apart from the different inscriptions, and the additional armorials in the Mount Edgcumbe version, the two portraits are almost identical in details of costume, pose and the book which she holds in her left hand, its spine turned away from the viewer, with her first finger marking her place. However, the V&A version shows the forefinger of her right hand extended, whereas in the Mount Edgcumbe version it is bent back. A photograph of another version, without inscription or armorials, but with the forefinger bent back, is in the National Portrait Gallery archive, last seen in 1934 (copy of photo on V&A Departmental file for 1511-1882). This version is possibly the same as Lot 118, Oil Paintings & Watercolours, Old Master & Modern Prints, Friday December 2007, Dominic Winter Book Auctions – it too has no inscriptions or armorial, but the same bent forefinger (copy of photo on V&A Departmental file for 1511-1882). A half-length version, with inscriptions (the same lettering as that on the V&A portrait), is with the Denny Family Trust (see Departmental File for 1511-1882). 1511-1882 is a version of these various portraits, and could date from the 18th century. It is one of five oil portraits of sitters from the 16th and 17th centuries that came to the museum from the Denny family in the late 19th century, all of which seem to be later copies. This is typical of the practice of making copies for successive generations of a family, as different branches of a family wished to own and display portraits of their forebears. When the painting was acquired in 1882 it was described as ‘Early 17th century’. However, a later note on the Departmental file by Michael Kauffman comments, ‘Manner of 17th Cent.’



A portrait of Margaret Edgcumbe as a much older woman, aged 88, was painted by Cornelis Janssens in 1648; it was found rolled and much damaged, in the bell-tower of Bishops Stortford Church (see papers of the Denny Family Trust on the Departmental File).



For more information about Margaret Edgcumbe and the Edgcumbe family see The Visitations of the County of Cornwall (ed. J. L. Vivian, 1887).



Summary
This is a portrait of Margaret Denny (1560-1648), born Margaret Edgcumbe, who married Edward Denny (1547-1600) in 1585 and is thought to have been maid of honour to Elizabeth I and a correspondent of Philip Sidney. There are three other known versions of this portrait, including one in Mount Edgcumbe House in which the details of costume and pose are almost identical but for the forefinger of the right hand which is bent back rather than extended, as in the V&A version. It is one of five oil portraits of sitters from the 16th and 17th centuries that came to the museum from the Denny family in the late 19th century, all of which seem to be later copies. This is typical of the practice of making copies for successive generations of a family, as different branches of a family wished to own and display portraits of their forebears.
Collection
Accession Number
1511-1882

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record createdApril 23, 2007
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