Not currently on display at the V&A

Portrait of Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney (d.1586)

Miniature
ca. 1575 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

When this miniature was acquired by the museum in 1988 it was tentatively attributed to Levina Teerlinc. In a chapter published in 2015 the work of Levina Teerlinc was reexamined as part of a reassessment of the workshop practice of Nicholas Hilliard (See Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire, 'Nicholas Hilliard's Workshop Practice reconsidered', in 'Painting in Britain 1500-1630: Production, Influences and Patronage', ed. T.Cooper et al, Oxford, 2015, pp.241-251.) Levina Teerlinc worked for Henry VIII from 1546, receiving an annuity from the crown until her death in 1576. Teerlinc has been nominated as Hilliard’s likely tutor by Roy Strong and V.J.Murrell in their groundbreaking exhibition 'Artists of the Tudor Court', V&A, 1983, asserting that limning was a workshop tradition, passed from master to pupil. But Hilliard himself noted that Henry VIII employed ‘divers others’ for limning, some of whom plausibly worked for the crown after Henry’s death in 1547. The tendency to attribute miniatures from the 1550s and 1560s predominantly to Teerlinc has been encouraged since 1983 by Strong’s creation of an oeuvre for this artist, and insistence on an unwavering line of descent from the so-called 'Ghent-Bruges tradition', with Teerlinc, the daughter of Simon Bening, the pivotal link to Hilliard. But examination of a few of those surviving miniatures from the 1550s to the 1560s suggest that they are probably by different hands, and cannot all be attributed to Teerlinc. The situation today is that there is no consensus as to works which have been attributed to Teerlinc. This work was acquired by the museum as a possible example of Teerlinc's work, but it has to remain an attribution.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour on vellum, mounted on card with 4 spades verso
Brief Description
Portrait miniature on vellum, attributed to Levina Teerlinc, depicting Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney. Great Britain, ca. 1575.
Physical Description
Watercolour on vellum, stuck onto playing card with 4 spades verso, depicting Mary Dudley, full face in a black dress with white sleeves, ruff collar and white bonnet. She is also wearing a jewelled necklace linked with a gold chain around her neck. The background is blue with a double border of ochre and gold guilloche.



Inscription Content: Inscribed on the back in pre-Civil war hand La: Mary Sydney
Dimensions
  • Circular, sight size diameter: 36mm
Object history
Item Provenance: The estate of the late Rt. Hon. Viscount Harcourt, K.C.M.G., O.B.E.



Exhibitions: Special Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures on Loan at the South Kensington Museum, London, 1865, No. 1710



This miniature is one of ten by various artists acquired as a group and displayed in two frames. Nine of these miniatures are in the V&A collection, E.1170-1178-1988. The tenth miniature by Nicholas Hilliard, of the poet Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, is now held by the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Summary
When this miniature was acquired by the museum in 1988 it was tentatively attributed to Levina Teerlinc. In a chapter published in 2015 the work of Levina Teerlinc was reexamined as part of a reassessment of the workshop practice of Nicholas Hilliard (See Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire, 'Nicholas Hilliard's Workshop Practice reconsidered', in 'Painting in Britain 1500-1630: Production, Influences and Patronage', ed. T.Cooper et al, Oxford, 2015, pp.241-251.) Levina Teerlinc worked for Henry VIII from 1546, receiving an annuity from the crown until her death in 1576. Teerlinc has been nominated as Hilliard’s likely tutor by Roy Strong and V.J.Murrell in their groundbreaking exhibition 'Artists of the Tudor Court', V&A, 1983, asserting that limning was a workshop tradition, passed from master to pupil. But Hilliard himself noted that Henry VIII employed ‘divers others’ for limning, some of whom plausibly worked for the crown after Henry’s death in 1547. The tendency to attribute miniatures from the 1550s and 1560s predominantly to Teerlinc has been encouraged since 1983 by Strong’s creation of an oeuvre for this artist, and insistence on an unwavering line of descent from the so-called 'Ghent-Bruges tradition', with Teerlinc, the daughter of Simon Bening, the pivotal link to Hilliard. But examination of a few of those surviving miniatures from the 1550s to the 1560s suggest that they are probably by different hands, and cannot all be attributed to Teerlinc. The situation today is that there is no consensus as to works which have been attributed to Teerlinc. This work was acquired by the museum as a possible example of Teerlinc's work, but it has to remain an attribution.
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Strong, Sir Roy, "The Leicester House miniatures: Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester and his circle", Burlington Magazine CXXVII, October 1988, p. 698, Cat. No. II, fig. 46.
  • The following in an excerpt from a valuation report made by Christie's of the estate of the late Rt. Hon. Viscount Harcourt, K. C. M. G., O. B. E. "The attribution to Teerlinc can only be tentative as little evidence has emerged to draw any substantiative facts. It is known that she painted a number of small paintings from the lists of the New Year gifts to the Queen, the attribution of a group of 14 miniatures is based on the 'Elizabethan Maundy' at Madresfield Court (Auberach, 1961, p.53). In a comparison to this miniature and that of Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, which is generally accepted as being part of the group, not only is the formal and composition similar, but there is the same thin application of colour, red rosebud lips and thin twiggy arms. it is possible, therefore, to add this miniature to the other small group painted at the time and bearing similar characteristics, which are all attributed to Teerlinc. The dress suggests a date of ca. 1570s as Teerlinc died in 1576, it is probably one of the artist's last works. Lady Sidney (d. 1586) was the wife of Henry Sidney and mother of Robert Sidney, she nursed the Queen through smallpox, and it is therefore quite possible that she was granted the privilege of having her portrait executed by Teerlic. The miniature is extremely interesting in that it is the only example of this important sitter, and one of the last works of the artist."
Collection
Accession Number
E.1170-1988

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record createdNovember 24, 2008
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