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Frances, Countess of Somerset

2 of 71 portraits on display in Room 16 at the National Portrait Gallery

Frances, Countess of Somerset, studio of William Larkin, circa 1615 - NPG 1955 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Frances, Countess of Somerset

studio of William Larkin
oil on panel, feigned oval, circa 1615
22 5/8 in. x 17 1/4 in. (575 mm x 438 mm)
Purchased, 1922
Primary Collection
NPG 1955


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Frances Howard was the daughter of Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, and a famous beauty. She was divorced from Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex in 1613 and married Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, a favourite of James I. In 1615 she and her second husband, along with several accomplices, were convicted of poisoning Sir Thomas Overbury who had opposed their marriage. Although the couple were imprisoned until 1621, they were later pardoned of their crime. It was said of Somerset, 'If he had not met with such a woman he might have been a good man.'

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