Archive for April, 2013

April 30, 2013

Hester Tradescant and her stepchildren John and Frances

So excited to have been granted permission from the Ashmolean to post some of their portraits. This one is lovely, painted around 1644 by an unnamed English artist. Hester was the wife of John the Younger Tradescant and the original keeper of what became the Ashmolean Museum. Hester sadly died by drowning in her own pond in 1678 at which point Elias Ashmole inherited the collection. John is wearing a dark grey doublet with smallish tabs at the waist and some nice, though not exceptional linen around his neck. It looks like the lace was tacked on as an afterthought, rather than having been bought for the purpose. Frances seems to be wearing a low-ish cut bodice with lace around the collar of her smock. Hester is wearing a matching bodice and petticoat which could be in brown velvet, edged with what looks like lace made from gilt thread. Her two-layer kerchief is lined with lace as is the coif she’s wearing under her wide brimmed hat. I like the magnifying glass hanging from the left hand point of her kerchief. It’s heavy enough to drag that side of the kerchief lower than the right. They do look very serious though I have to say. Picture is © 2011 University of Oxford – Ashmolean Museum

Hester Tradescant and children

April 30, 2013

Anne, Countess of Pembroke

Painted in the style of Peter Lely around 1650. Anne was in her own right Lady Anne Clifford, she was a diarist, landowner and  twice married, first to Richard Sackville, Earl of Dorset and secondly to Philip Herbert 4th Earl of Pembroke. Most of her life was devoted to a legal battle to establish a claim to her father’s estates which had been bequeathed to her uncle for financial reasons. By the time the portrait was painted the court disputes were over and she was a very wealthy woman. It’s tricky to see too many details in this picture, but it’s obvious that her clothes are high quality. The lace edgings on her kerchief and what is visible of her smock are very fine indeed. Picture © National Portrait Gallery, London


Anne, Countess of Pembroke (Lady Anne Clifford)

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April 30, 2013

James Cranfield

James was a politician who sat in the House of Commons until he inherited the title of Earl of Middlesex from his father in 1645. I can find nothing about his politcal allegiance or of he took any part in the wars at all, but here he is in his lacy shirt and some black drapery, painted by Theodore Russell around the time he moved up to the House of Lords. The picture is at the National Trust property, Knowle near Sevenoaks in Kent.

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April 25, 2013

Certaine and Good News

from the west of Ireland, and city of Cork. Sent in a letter from John Davis, attendant on Sir Charles Vavasour, who is there resident under the Lord President of Munster, unto his father, Master Nelson, living in the new pallace yard at Westminster. Concerning the taking and besieging of the town of Dungarven, and the overthrow of many hundred of the Irish rebells. With some other skirmishes, as they marcht from Youghall. London 1642

I’ve now found (with some help from Stuart Peachey) that this image was first used in another pamphlet printed in 1642: The iust reward of rebels, or The life and death of Iack Straw, and Wat Tyler, who for their rebellion and disobedience to ther king and country, were suddenly slaine, and all their tumultuous rout covercome and put to flight.

The scene shown is actually a depiction of the Lord Mayor of London William Walworth striking Wat Tyler from his horse with his mace and stabbing him with a dagger. Although this is a 14th century tale, the clothes depicted are actually pretty contemporary to the mid 17th, as was the underlying feeling of revolt in the country generally. What fascinates me about this image is not the murder being enacted in the middle, but the group of peasants, who could easily be seen as 1640s yokel clubmen (or possibly native irish men in the reuse) on the right hand side. They are carrying pitchforks and various implements and at least one is dressed in a long coat or possibly a smock. There are several short tabbed doublets being worn too and what looks like an embroidered cap on the Mayor centre left.

News from the west of ireland 1642

April 24, 2013

A True Relation of a Barborous and Most Cruel Murther

Committed by one Enoch ap Euan, who cut off his owne naturall mothers head, and his brothers. The cause wherefore he did this most excrable act: … with his condemnation and execution. VVith certaine pregnant inducements, both diuine and morall, London 1633. Apologies for the gratuitous violence again here, but there are some lovely details in this image if you can forget the gore for a moment. Plus as the image relates directly to the story it can be accurately dated. Unusually the text steers away from the gory details, concentrating more on the sins committed by Enoch. It does print a poem that apparently Enoch wrote during his imprisonment in Shrewsbury “Goale” with his own hand:

“If ever Christian had true cause to weep,

If ever true conscience prickt men to the deepe,

O list to me, who have a murder done.

Which brande me with the name of graceless son.”

How profound. Anyway Enoch is wearing a short tabbed doublet with wide shoulder wings and breeches, darted band, felt hat and low heeled shoes. His poor brother wears the same (without the hat) and as he is lying prone you can see his doublet buttons clearly. His mother was wearing a petticoat skirt decorated with three rows of lace or braid, an apron with a decorated edge, waistcoat and kerchief. Enoch seems to be trussed in some kind if gibbet arrangement on the gallows, though seemingly he’s kept his old doublet and breeches on to meet his maker.

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April 24, 2013

The Humble Petition of Jock of Bread

Satyrical tract from 1648. Jock presents his petition to call for closer union between England and Scotland. Jock in the centre has removed his hat to honour the sergeant who is taking the deposition. He, and the cloaked guys on the left are wearing short tabbed doublets, a nice pair of breeches with ribbon decoration and high heeled shoes.The sergeant (you can tell by his halberd) has a longer tabbed doublet, breeches, boots, a waist-tied scarf and a baldric holding up his sword. He is also leaning on a walking cane which would make it tricky to wield his halberd effectively, though it does imbue him with a certain air of disdain! I’ve now found an earlier version of this image on the front page of The Catholicke’s Petition to Prince Rupert  from 1644. It doesn’t look original to that publication either.

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April 19, 2013

The Pleasant History of Cawwood the Rook

Or, The assembly of birds with the severall speeches which the birds made to the eagle, in hope to have the government in his absence: and lastly, how the rooke was banished; with the reason why crafty fellowes are called rookes. As also fit morralls and expositions added to every chapter. Printed by T. C  for F. Grove, and are to be sold at his shoppe, at the upper end of Snow-Hill, neere the Sarazens head without Nevv-Gate, 1640.

I’ve been searching for some inner meaning or satirical intent associated with this little book published first in 1640. Certainly the extended title would seem to suggest this, but I really think this is nothing but a child’s picture book. This picture shows an episode in chapter two where our hero Cawwood and his friend the hawk advise a buzzard to wrap up well as he has caught a cold. Consequently the poor buzzard is unaware of the hunter and his birding piece with fatal results, the moral being don’t listen to advice.

Anyway, morals apart the hunter is dressed in one of those short tabbed doublets which I thought (before I started to look at original images) had died out well before the 1640s. I’ve seen so many in pictures now that I believe this was a common item of clothing for men well into this period. He’s also wearing a good pair of breeches, felt hat and shoes.


The pleasant history



Here’s the first page showing Cawwood and the assembly, lorded over by the Eagle. Just because I like it, there’s no costume detail here. It’s not bad though, you can identify several different species


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April 15, 2013

Florence Smyth and her Pageboy

Also thought to by by Gilbert Jackson and probably painted in the late 1630s, this is an arresting picture. Not just because of the black pageboy, (who probably has the honour of the earliest representation in English art of someone of African descent), but also because of the vibrant colours and the contrast between the two figures. The girl is thought to be Florence Smyth who lived at Ashton Court near Bristol with her mother Florence and father Thomas who payed a small part at the beginning of the war on the royalist side. She is dressed in a white satin bodice and petticoat. The sleeves are slashed and gathered with red ribbon which is also picked out in a ribbon across her waist and behind the lace of her coif. The lace of the coif and neckerchief is very high quality. The boy has a striped satin doublet and less (though not in quality) lace than his mistress on the falling band around his neck. The picture is on display in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Why they are playing with a bird’s nest I have no idea. I suspect there is some symbolism involved.

A young girl thought to be Florence Smyth (b.1634), daughter of Thomas and Florence Smyth of Ashton Court, Somerset, with her black page

April 15, 2013

Richard Luther

Painted by Gilbert Jackson or one of his followers in 1639, Richard was 88 at the time and wears what looks like a grey coat cut like a doublet with a pointed waistline and shoulder wings. I would guess that he has a doublet with a high collar  underneath which is holding up his darted linen band and there is a glimpse of points which would be holding up his breeches, an outdated method by 1639 but he is 88 so could be forgiven for being behind the times. This picture was formerly in the collection of Wormsley Park in Essex before it was sold at auction. The image and the details are courtesy of the auctioneers Dreweatts 1759

'Portrait of Richard Luther

Here is a detail showing the falling band, his buttons, buttonholes and a glimpse of what looks like a sumptuous fabric being used on the doublet that I presume is under the coat.

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The points lacing his breeches in place are clearly visible as is some more of that figured fabric on his breeches.

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Shirt and coat cuffs show clearly here and his specs in fine detail.

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April 15, 2013

Henry Carey and Wife

Painted by someone from the circle of the artist Gilbert Jackson. Henry was the second Earl of Monmouth and a staunch royalist, though he took little part in the war. This picture came up for sale recently at Sotherbys. It looks slightly earlier than the 1640s but not by many years. Sir Henry is wearing oddly mismatched colours in his doublet and breeches, though his doublet is rather splendidly slashed and set off with a falling band that is mostly lace. Mrs Sir Henry (Martha) has a red dress, the sleeves of which are slashed and gathered at the elbow and with skirts that look to be possibly embroidered. Henry’s shoes are fine with ribbon rosettes, though his hose could do with regartering, though those ribbon ties look too complicated to actually hold anything up!

Henry Carey & Wife circle of Gilbert Jackson



Here’s a detail of the fine lace on his band.


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And the even finer lace worn by Martha which looks more like gossamer than fabric. You can also see the dark over gown she’s wearing in this closer view.

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