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Mary Neville, Lady Dacre; Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre

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Mary Neville, Lady Dacre; Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre

by Hans Eworth
oil on panel, 1559
19 3/4 in. x 28 1/8 in. (500 mm x 714 mm)
Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the Portrait Fund, L.L. Brownrigg, John Morton Morris, Paul Dacre, and many other donations, 2008
Primary Collection
NPG 6855

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Hans Eworth (active 1540-died 1574), Artist. Artist or producer associated with 26 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This unusual and highly accomplished double portrait of mother and son was probably painted to commemorate the restoration of honours to her son, forfeited after her husband, Thomas, 9th Baron Dacre, was executed for his part in a poaching incident in which a keeper had been killed. This portrait is signed in monogram by the painter Hans Eworth, one of the most distinguished Netherlandish artists to work in England in the mid-sixteenth century.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D25588: Mary Neville, Lady Dacre; Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre (after)
  • NPG D34488: Mary Neville, Lady Dacre; Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre (after)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Tudor Portraits Resource Pack, p. 25
  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 79 Read entry

    This unusual and highly accomplished double portrait of mother and son was probably painted to commemorate the restoration of the Dacre family fortune. Mary Neville was the widow of Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre, who had been executed in 1541 for his part in a poaching incident, in which a man had been killed. His titles and honours were forfeit, and Lady Dacre, who married twice subsequently, was forced to campaign for their restoration to her son; this was finally granted during the first year of Elizabeth I's reign. This portrait is signed in monogram by the painter Hans Eworth, one of the most distinguished Netherlandish artists to work in England in the mid-sixteenth century. Intriguingly, it is Lady Dacre who is shown in the act of putting on a ring, which was often used to demonstrate the assumption of dynastic power; she also occupies the position on the left of the composition, which was usually taken by the husband in double portraits that commemorated marital union. This was not the first portrait that Lady Dacre used to assert her status; during her campaign for the restoration of her husband's title, she commissioned a portrait from Eworth that included her husband's image in a painting hanging on the wall behind her (National Gallery of Canada).

  • Cooper, Tarnya; Fraser, Antonia (foreword), A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 2012, p. 37 Read entry

    The portrait of a mother and son is very unusual since double portraits usually showed husbands and wives. Gregory's father was executed for his involvement in a hunting incident in which a gamekeeper had been killed and as a consequence the family was stripped of its title. This portrait celebrates the restoration of family honour and the official title of Baron to Gregory Fiennes in 1559.

  • MacLeod, Catharine, Tudor Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 25
  • Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 43
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 50
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 161
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 44 Read entry

    This accomplished double portrait is rare in presenting a mother (Lady Dacre) with her adult son (Gregory Fiennes). Lady Dacre’s husband, Thomas, 9th Baron Dacre, had been executed in 1541 and his title and lands forfeited for his part in a poaching incident in which a gamekeeper was killed. She married twice more, all the while campaigning for the restoration of her first husband’s honours to her son. This finally took place in 1558 when Elizabeth I came to the throne, and is the likely occasion for this portrait. Fiennes, described by the antiquarian William Camden as ‘a little crack-brained’, married Anne Sackville, who complained of the degree to which both she and her husband were subject to his mother.

    The portrait is signed in monogram by the painter Hans Eworth (d.1574), the artist who painted the portrait of Mary I. Eworth had painted Lady Dacre a few years previously and this portrait with her son is considered to be one of the artist’s most skilful works. His technique here is particularly sophisticated and conveys a range of textures and materials. Great attention has been paid to the detail of the sumptuous jewellery and costume, particularly the fur, ruffs and cuffs.

Events of 1559back to top

Current affairs

Queen Elizabeth I rejects a marriage proposal from Philip II of Spain; a proposal from Charles Archduke of Austria is also declined.
Elizabeth I is crowned at Westminster Abbey.
Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity approve a new religious settlement reinstating the Protestant faith and introducing the Elizabethan Prayer Book.
Matthew Parker becomes Archbishop of Canterbury

Art and science

The Italian anatomist Matteo Realdo Colombo publishes De re anatomica (On Things Anatomical), in which he describes the pulmonary circulation of blood.


Mary Queen of Scots becomes Queen of France when her husband Francis II succeeds to the French throne.
Scottish Protestants under John Knox rebel against Queen Mary. Monasteries are sacked and royal tombs desecrated.
The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis ends the war between France, Spain and England. Spain is confirmed as the dominant power in Italy.

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