Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel
1 of 6 portraits of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel
- Tudor and Jacobean Portraits Database
Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel
by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
oil on panel, 1560s
21 in. x 16 3/4 in. (533 mm x 425 mm)
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New attribution: Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
Key findings: The white collar was originally painted on both sides of the face, as in another version of the portrait.
The portrait was purchased at Christie's on 28 November 1969 (lot 210) where it was sold as a portrait of Philip Howard, 1st Earl of Arundel. It had previously been in the collection of the Rt. Hon. the Lord Waleran of Bradfield, Devon.
Notes on likely authorship
The portrait appears to be Anglo-Netherlandish in character. The likeness and characterisation of the sitters features shows evidence of careful observation and subtle execution.
Commentary on condition, painting style and technique
In some parts the original paint layers cannot be assessed clearly because the paint surface is damaged and restored. The current composition of the ruff appears rather odd and the dark costume is considerably overpainted. Dense light areas in the x-ray suggest that the white collar was originally painted on both sides of the face and continued further down the face on the right-hand side, as in another version of the portrait. The damage in the collar and beard area has been restored in several campaigns, with the beard hairs significantly extended over the damage (see detail 03).
The painting method is straightforward but some blending techniques were used. The initial paint layers were thinly applied and thicker paint was used for detail, such as the chain and medal. Fine brushstrokes describe detail in the face, hair and ruff. The flesh paint is smoothly blended, with some fine wet-in-wet feathering to soften the contours in several parts, such as around the eyes and nose.
Justification for dating
The technique and materials in use are entirely consistent with a work from this period. The date for the last tree-ring was found to be 1558, making a 1560s date entirely possible.
Drawing and transfer technique
There is carbon underdrawing in the face and possibly the collar and ruff. The design was evidently made using a pattern and probably with a liquid medium. There do not appear to be any pentimenti.
Relevance to other known versions
- Another version of this portrait was sold at Christies on 16 July 1943 (lot 55) as a portrait of Sir Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire by Holbein from the collection of Sir Berkeley Sheffield of Normanby Park, Scunthorpe. It was later resold at Christies on 10 December 1943 (lot 141).
Christies, Fine Sporting Pictures and Fine English Portraits and Landscape, 27-28 November 1969 (lot 210).
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Compare high-resolution images against the painting - mainly x-ray and infra-red photography images, but sometimes UV or raking light images - side by side with the ability to zoom in on details.
The panel is constrained by a cradle on the reverse, which has caused the panel to develop a concave warp. The boards have been thinned to a maximum of 5 mm, exposing some old woodworm channels along the upper edge on the reverse (see Support).
The painting has been heavily restored. Extensive damage down and alongside the panel join has been filled and retouched, particularly in the face. Further restoration has been carried out in the beard, ear, hair, background and jacket. The beard is particularly restored, with very little original paint visible. Details such as lead-tin yellow highlights on the chain and the eyebrow on the right have also been reinforced. The paint and ground layers exhibit severe vertical blistering, particularly in the background, although to a lesser degree in the drapery. Most of these blisters appear closed and firm to the touch. The painting was consolidated in 1983 as much as was possible, but the closed blisters were left owing to difficulties in penetration of consolidant. The varnish is discoloured and yellowed, although the gloss is fairly even.
Number of boards: 2
Panel Orientation: Vertical
Panel condition observations
The thinning of the panel has exposed a number of woodworm channels along the upper edge. The panel join is visible on the reverse at the upper and lower exposed edges. The rest of the join is obscured by a vertical cradle baton. The cradle has been applied in the wrong direction and all battens have been glued, thereby creating a complete restraint. In response to this, the panel has developed a marked convex warp.
An examination of tree rings, which can help to provide the earliest possible felling dates for the wood used for the panel. The technique can also indicate the geographical origin of the wood.
Number of boards: 2
Last date of tree ring: 1558
The boards were labelled A and B from the left for analysis (from the front). The sequences obtained from the two boards did not match, showing that they come from different trees. No sapwood was present on either board and a terminus post quem date can therefore be applied. The most recent heartwood ring was found to date from 1558. Adding the minimum expected number of sapwood rings suggested that the tree was felled after 1566. Board A is 166 mm wide, which is within the typical range for boards seen in panel paintings. As this picture is undated and board A does not seem to have been significantly trimmed prior to use, it is suitable to apply an Eastern Baltic 8-40 year LEHR- usage range to this panel; this gives a conjectural usage-date range of 1566-1598.
A technique used to identify changes in composition beneath the surface of the paint layers and to understand the physical structure of a panel or canvas.
In x-ray, numerous losses in the paint layer can be seen. The modelling of the flesh appears more convincing in the x-ray than in the painting, which is now extensively restored. There is a distinctive craquelure pattern in the paint of the face and surrounding area. Dense light areas in the x-ray suggest that the white collar was originally painted on both sides of the face and continued further down the right-hand side, as in another version. Damage in the collar and beard has been restored in several campaigns by extending the beard hairs. A light line can be seen running up the inner edge of the right side of the chain. The brushwork in the background paint is very prominent on the left side where it follows the outline of the sitter (see x-ray mosaic 01).
A technique used to observe the layers beneath the paint surface which can reveal underdrawing and changes to the initial design.
Infrared reflectography shows that the face is underdrawn in a carbon medium, marking out the principal features such as the nose, ears, eyes and 'crow's feet' near the sitter's left eye. A straight line across the top of the moustache on the right side is probably a restored scratch. The position of the mouth is not drawn with an outline but is defined with small regular lines indicating beard hairs, and several smaller lines run between the lips. Hairs are drawn for the rest of the beard and moustache, and smaller lines mark creases and modelling in the cheeks, nose and under the eyes. There may be drawn lines for the collar ruff. The underdrawing was evidently made using a pattern, and probably with a liquid medium. The black, glittery underdrawing material can be seen on the paint surface where it has been exposed by damage (see Surface examination). Numerous particles of black pigment visible over the flesh are probably residues from the transfer lines, made with a dry medium, which were then strengthened with a liquid medium. There are dots in the drawing of the 'crow's feet' next to the eye on the right, where the drawing lines catch across the priming layer brushwork, and miss the dips (see IRR mosaic 01).
Investigation into microscopic pigment samples or samples of other media in order to help with dating, to reveal the order of the paint layers and help to understand the painting techniques used.
Paint samples were taken to analyse the pigments and layer structure of the painting in June 2009.
Paint sample analysis identified the presence of a thick chalk ground and pure lead white priming layer beneath the upper paint layers. It was noted that underneath sample 3 (taken from the black costume), the priming has a rough appearance. This may be due to the method by which the priming was applied, or simply exaggerated by the presence of lead soaps, which have formed and pushed up into the paint above.
Sample 7 taken from an area of underdrawing in the eye on the right was found to contain plant black.
During surface examination and research into another version of this portrait, questions had been raised about the presence of a white collar beneath the beard. Sample 1, taken from this area, shows a complex layer structure. The lowest layer shows the chalk ground, with a thin layer of white priming above. Above is a thin layer of reddish brown paint, composed of red ochre and black. This layer is likely to relate to the initial red layer of background. There follows a thick layer of grey white (lead white and occasional particles of charcoal black), which may relate to an original white collar beneath the beard. A thin, discontinuous line of white paint can be seen over the thick white layer, with a translucent varnish layer between. Paint sampling cannot conclusively prove that there was originally a white collar beneath the beard. However, due to the presence of a thick off-white layer, it is possible.
The black pigment in the costume was identified as lamp black.
Sample 4 shows a fragment of what appears to be the original background paint, beneath the dark surface overpaint. This sample shows that the first paint layer above the priming was a strong red, with the addition of some white and black. Above this, a second layer of medium-rich red was applied (without any white present), with a translucent brown interlayer between the two. This translucent layer fluoresces as a slightly creamy, intermittent line when viewed in ultra violet light, suggesting that there may have once been a resinous varnish layer between, although glue layers (applied by the artist) sometimes have this appearance. Above the red layers, a green/blue layer containing a stain-like blue can be seen. In dispersion this blue resembles indigo, although this could not be identified firmly. The final layer in this cross-section is a final dull green/blue overpaint layer. A sample from the background at the edge of the sitter's collar, which appeared to be original paint, also showed a clear layer of red directly above the white priming (see sample 6).
An examination of the construction of paint layers, glazes and condition often using a microscope. This method provides important evidence concerning an artist’s technique and paint handling and can reveal a specific artist’s characteristic painting style.
Painting style and method
The painting method is straightforward, with the initial paint layers thinly applied. Fine brushstrokes describe detail in the face, hair and ruff. The flesh paint is smoothly blended, with some fine wet-in-wet feathering to soften the contours in several parts, such as the shadow around the eyes and nose (see micro 06).
Pale priming layer
Underdrawing is visible beneath the upper paint layers in the face (see micro 03 and Infrared reflectography).
Paint layer structure and pigments
The flesh is painted with thin layers containing lead white, black and vermilion (see micro 05 and micro 06).
The whites of the eyes are composed of a mixture of lead white, black, red lake and vermilion (see micro 01). No blue pigment particles are evident. The iris is black. Red ochre pigment outlines the eyelids. The hairs in the eyebrows are painted with very thin brushstrokes.
There is an initial flesh-tone layer beneath the painted beard hairs (see micro 11). The detailed beard hairs are painted with fine brushstrokes, using black, earth pigments and vermilion (or possibly red earth). It is difficult to assess the original painting technique in most parts of the beard because it is damaged and generally in poor condition. There is a considerable amount of restoration, particularly in the lower part of the beard, and in the area of the join (see micro 13, micro 15 and Paint sampling).
The dark costume is heavily overpainted and therefore it is difficult to assess and describe the later layers. The white edge of the collar was applied after the beard hairs. In another version of the portrait the white collar is painted on both sides of the face and continues further down the face on the right-hand side. It seems likely that the collar in this painting was originally similar to this other version, although this area is not easy to decipher as the surface is so heavily restored (see X-ray and micro 13); surface examination does not help to clarify whether a white collar was originally present. In areas of damage, a dark grey black original layer can be seen beneath the present warm black costume (see micro 09). The uppermost paint layer in the costume is largely non-original. Paint sampling from this area clearly shows a thick lead white layer beneath.
Chain and Garter medallion
These were applied towards the end of the painting process. The gold of the chain and pendant are painted in lead-tin yellow (see micro 09). The cross on St George's shield is painted with vermilion (see micro 10). With raking light, the paint surface at each side of the chain appears to be smoother than the surrounding dark costume paint. This is where original paint is exposed and the background overpaint has not been applied.
There is a red/brown underlayer beneath the grey/green surface paint, which also extends beneath the hat (see micro 08). The grey/green surface paint is not original (see Paint sampling for discussion of the layer structure).
Order of construction
- The first layers for the flesh were applied at an early stage, and a warm flesh tone was painted into the beard area
- A red/brown layer was applied over the background
- The modelling of the flesh and features
- Hair definition applied
- Dark grey/black jacket
- Chain and medal
- Upper layer of jacket and background are non-original
Charcoal black, lamp black, plant black, lead white, earth pigments, red ochre, lead-tin yellow, vermilion, red lake and indigo (unconfirmed, see Paint sampling)
Changes in composition/pentimenti
Questions have been asked as to whether or not a white collar was originally present beneath the beard, as in another version of the painting. Although paint sampling and surface examination have not been conclusive in proving this, it appears likely that a collar was originally present.
The upper layer of black jacket paint is non-original, and much warmer in tone than the visible original beneath (see micro 12). The paint surface is heavily restored throughout. Discoloured retouchings and overpaint can be seen in the beard, hair, flesh, jacket and background (see micro 13 and micro 15).
A method which helps to reveal past restoration and the extent of varnish layers.
Examination in ultra violet light shows thick opaque varnish layers. Varnish has been partially removed in the face, chain and ruff. A great deal of old restoration is evident, including some recent strengthening to the hat (see UV 01).