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Probably Mary (née Throckmorton), Lady Scudamore

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Probably Mary (née Throckmorton), Lady Scudamore

by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
oil on panel, 1615
45 in. x 32 1/2 in. (1143 mm x 826 mm)
Purchased, 1859
Primary Collection
NPG 64

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Little is known about Lady Scudamore, but this portrait appears to have been commissioned to commemorate the marriage of her son, John, later Viscount Scudamore, to Elizabeth Porter of Dauntsey, Wiltshire. The date of the wedding is inscribed in the top right corner. Lady Scudamore's melancholic smile, the motto 'No Spring Till now', and the wreath of flowers suggest the regeneration and hope which the marriage must have represented within the family. The sitter has one hand in her fur-lined coat, a pose used by Gheeraerts in a number of his female portraits of about this date.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 85 Read entry

    This portrait was probably commissioned to commemorate the marriage of John Scudamore, later 1st Viscount Scudamore, to Elizabeth Porter of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, the date of which is inscribed in the upper-right corner. The wreath of flowers and, below it, the motto 'No Spring Till now' allude to the hope for regeneration in new life that the marriage represented. In this context, the sitter is likely to be the groom's mother, Mary Scudamore, who had been repudiated by her husband Sir James Scudamore in 1608; she was sent to live with the family of her birth, the Throckmortons, and spent two decades seeking a settlement. This portrait is in very good condition and is a striking example of the work of Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger and, particularly, of his skill at rendering variation in texture. The fabrics depicted range from translucent lace to heavy brocade, while the paint used to replicate the embroidered patterns is handled with incredible confidence. Gheeraerts had been brought to England as a child when his family fled religious persecution in the Netherlands, and he became a fashionable portraitist at the end of Elizabeth's reign, under the patronage of Sir Henry Lee.

  • Cooper, Tarnya; Fraser, Antonia (foreword), A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 2012, p. 18 Read entry

    The red, black and white colour scheme and the startlingly lavish detail of this costume were designed to impress its original viewers and to create an impression of a middle-aged woman still at the height of her powers. She is shown wearing richly embroidered fashionable clothes with one hand tucked into the folds of her coat, which is lined with fur for warmth. The artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger was exceptionally talented at capturing the translucency of skin and floating lace, the subtleties of the Jacobean floral embroidery and the surface texture and weight of brocaded fabrics falling around the body.

    The portrait commemorates the marriage of Lady Scudamore's son, John (later Viscount Scudamore), with the date it took place inscribed at the top right, surrounded by a floral wreath and the words 'no spring 'till now'. The marriage offered hope that the Scudamore family lineage would be preserved. The elaborate array of three different floral designs, shown on her doublet (a tightly fitted jacket), coat and skirt complement this theme of the promise of new life.

  • MacLeod, Catherine, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection at Montacute House, 1999, p. 33
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 62
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 82
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 554
  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 243
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 70 Read entry

    When this portrait was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1859, it was thought to represent Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, a poet and translator and the sister of Sir Philip Sidney. However, there is very little evidence to support this identification and the date inscribed so prominently (given according to the ‘Old Style’ calendar, in which the year changed on 25 March), as well as the family collection from which it came, suggest that it commemorates the marriage on 12 March 1615 of John, later Viscount Scudamore, to Elizabeth Porter. The most likely sitter seems to be the mother of the groom, Mary, Lady Scudamore; the wreath of flowers and motto ‘No Spring Till now’ reflect the hope and regeneration that the marriage represented to the family.

    The painting is one of the finest works of the important artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561/2– 1636). Gheeraerts, from an immigrant Netherlandish family, worked in the later years of Elizabeth I’s reign and during the reign of James I.

Events of 1615back to top

Current affairs

George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, is knighted and appointed gentleman of the Bechamber and replaces Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, as the king's favourite. Buckingham would prosper under the king's patronage, advancing rapidly through the peerage.
The Somersets stand trial for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.

Art and science

James I produces Remonstrance for the Right of Kings and the Independence of their Crownes, in which he defends European kingship and directly confronts the papacy.
Architect Inigo Jones is appointed Surveyor of the King's Works and would hold the post for 27 years.


The Spanish court send official articles to serve as a basis for negotiations concerning a marriage alliance between Charles, Prince of Wales and the Spanish king Philip III's second daughter, Maria Anna.
Marriage of French king Louis XIII and the Spanish Infanta, Anne, Philip III's eldest daughter.

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