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Unknown woman, formerly known as Elizabeth, Princess of the Palatinate

2 of 12 portraits of Elizabeth, Princess of the Palatinate

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Unknown woman, formerly known as Elizabeth, Princess of the Palatinate

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1635
30 1/8 in. x 25 in. (765 mm x 635 mm)
Transferred from British Museum, 1879
Primary Collection
NPG 543

On display at Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 691
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 40, 151 Read entry

    Pine painted black with gilt applied papier-mâché winged cherub heads and a gilt sight edge, mitred lap joint with bevelled edge, the joints not mirroring the adjacent corners but turned through ninety degrees. The outer gilt moulding is a later, probably nineteenth-century addition, which fits over and under the bask edge of the original flame; this moulding appears to have been fitted at the same time as the papier-mâché ornament was repaired in compo and regilt; it hides the original black back edge and the original hanging holes, 3 inches apart, which pierce the top edge of the frame. There is no rebate for the picture except for a nineteenth-century build-up on the back of the frame; there are traces of old canvas impressions and nail holes on the back of the frame. 2 13⁄ 16 inches wide (3 3⁄ 8 inches with later outer moulding).

    A rare survival of a mid-seventeenth-century frame type produced for showy effect at minimum expense. The frame has gilt winged cherub heads at the centres and corners which must have been produced in a mould using an early form of papier-mâché. An area of old damage reveals paper with lettering printed in a black gothic type. The cherub heads have lost much of their detail, as with other early papier-mâché frames, and have been repaired in compo. It is not possible to be sure that the frame is original to the picture, which was given to the British Museum as a portrait of the Princess Palatine, apparently by Dr Andrew Gifford in about 1758.

    Other examples of this frame type are to be found at Knole (Heraclitus and Democritus by Moreelse, perhaps of the 1630s, the flats of the frame now sanded but originally painted blue), the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (five portraits, mainly of the 1650s, from the Tradescant Collection), the National Portrait Gallery (John Fletcher and Lord Herbert of Cherbury, on loan to Montacute, both frames fitted in the 1960s), and at Snowshill Manor (Portrait of a Dutch Gentleman).1

    1 For the variations in profile and construction, see Macgregor (ed.), Tradescant's Rarities, Oxford, 1983, p 327-9.

Events of 1635back to top

Current affairs

Discovered by the Earl of Arundel, centenarian Thomas Parr dies, it is claimed, at the age of 152.
Richard Weston, Earl of Portland dies. Though unpopular in the Commons, Portland was an effective Lord Chief Treasurer who succeeded in curbing royal expenditure.

Art and science

Dramatic poet, James Shirley composes The Traitor, dedicating it to literary patron, William Cavendish, Earl of Newcastle. Shirley would later assist Newcastle on a number of the earl's own plays, while benefiting from his patronage.
Postal services are made available to the public.


As a result of French first minister, Cardinal Richelieu's foreign policy, France becomes directly involved in the Thirty Years' War.
Elector palatine, Charles Lewis, excluded from the peace of Prague between Emperor Ferdinand II and Electorate of Saxony, travels to England to secure military help from his uncle, Charles I.

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