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Attributed to William Scrots (active England 1537-1553)
Property from a Welsh Private Collection (LOTS 132 & 182)
Attributed to William Scrots (active England 1537-1553)

Portrait of a lady, half-length, in a black bodice with sleeves and black embroidered cuffs, and a black headdress, with an enameled chain and a fur tippet around her neck, holding a pair of gloves in her right hand

Details
Attributed to William Scrots (active England 1537-1553)
Portrait of a lady, half-length, in a black bodice with sleeves and black embroidered cuffs, and a black headdress, with an enameled chain and a fur tippet around her neck, holding a pair of gloves in her right hand
oil on panel
11¾ x 9¼ in. (29.8 x 23.5 cm.)
Exhibited
London, Royal Academy, British Portraits, Winter 1956-7, as 'Hans Eworth (attrib.)'.

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Lot Essay

This portrait has previously been attributed to both Hans Holbein the Younger and Hans Eworth. More recently, Ludwig Meyer has proposed an attribution to the Flemish artist William Scrots, who was court painter to Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, before entering the service of Henry VIII as King's Painter in 1545. Scrots is likely to have returned to the Continent in 1553, when Mary Tudor came to the throne. Meyer has suggested that this portrait was executed when Scrots was working for the English Court between 1545 and 1550. The profile portrait of Edward VI, when Prince of Wales, dated 1546 (London, National Portrait Gallery), and the full-face portraits of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, when Princess, c. 1446-7 (London, The Royal Collection), are the only portraits that have been convincingly attributed to Scrots during this period, limiting the possibility for stylistic comparison.

A dating to the second half of the 1550s accords with the style of the costume in this portrait, which can be compared with Hans Eworth's Portrait of Mary Neville, Lady Dacre, c. 1555-58 (Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada). Both are quite somber (Lady Dacre is shown as a widow) with similar black-work embroidery and headdresses, although the style of the sleeve and bodice in this portrait is slightly later and the neckline is more modest. Another feature that these two portraits share is the fur tippet, or zibellini around the sitters' shoulders, which was an Italian fashion introduced among others by Isabella d'Este in the 1490s. Mary Queen of Scots brought several with her in 1561 and the first recorded in Queen Elizabeth's wardrobe was in 1584. The somber colours and modest cut of the present sitter's costume suggests non-Court attire and possibly gentry rather than aristocracy, however the enameled gold necklace and rings, and fur tippet indicate that the sitter is a person of some status and clearly aware of current fashions. We are grateful to Susan North, of the Victoria and Albert Museum, for her thoughts on the costume.

This portrait is sold with a copy of a certificate from Ludwig Meyer (dated 8 October 2009) proposing an attribution to William Scrots in full.

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