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Possibly Lucy Russell (née Harington), Countess of Bedford

Possibly Lucy Russell (née Harington), Countess of Bedford, by Unknown artist, circa 1603 - NPG 5688 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Possibly Lucy Russell (née Harington), Countess of Bedford

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1603
75 3/8 in. x 44 3/4 in. (1914 mm x 1138 mm)
Purchased, 1983
Primary Collection
NPG 5688

On display in the Long Gallery at Montacute House

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait shows a woman in the formal robes of a countess, probably as she appeared at the coronation of James I. The identity of the sitter is not absolutely certain.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bennett, Sue, Five Centuries of Women and Gardens, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 October 2000 to 21 January 2001), p. 27
  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 71 Read entry

    This portrait shows a woman in the formal robes of a countess, wearing a jewel-encrusted coronet and a rich red velvet gown trimmed with ermine. It probably records the sitter's attendance at the coronation of James I and Anne of Denmark at Westminster Abbey on 25 July 1603. The scale of the drum farthingales worn by women in the early seventeenth century could cause problems during ceremonial court festivities, and, as a result, women were forbidden from wearing them during the celebrations for Elizabeth of Bohemia's marriage in 1613. The identity of this sitter is uncertain, but it is possible that she is Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, who was Lady of the Bedchamber to Anne of Denmark and one of the twelve participating countesses in the coronation, all of whom wore similar attire. Lucy was the wife of Edward Russell, 3rd Earl of Bedford, and was an important art collector and patron of writers and musicians, including Ben Jonson, John Donne and John Dowland.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 45

Events of 1603back to top

Current affairs

Death of Queen Elizabeth I at Richmond. She names King James VI of Scotland as her successor in her final moments. The Stuart dynasty begins with his accession as King James I of England.
Sir Walter Ralegh is implicated in a plot to prevent King James I's succession. He is found guilty of High Treason and imprisoned.

Art and science

William Shakespeare writes Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure and Othello at about his time.
The poet and lexicographer John Florio publishes his English translation of the French writer Michel de Montaigne's Essais.
Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk begins construction of Audley End, Essex. Completed in 1616, it is the largest private residence in England.

International

Tokugawa Ieyasu confirms his rule of Japan by receiving the title of shogun from the emperor. The Tokugawa shogunate will rule Japan until 1867.
In Ireland, Charles Blount, Lord Deputy of Ireland, defeats the Irish ending the Nine Years' War with Ireland. Blount signs the Treaty of Mellifont with Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, leader of the Irish resistance, obtaining Tyrone's acceptance of the English monarchy's authority.

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