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Anne, Countess of Pembroke (Lady Anne Clifford)

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Anne, Countess of Pembroke (Lady Anne Clifford)

by William Larkin
oil on panel, circa 1618
22 5/8 in. x 17 1/8 in. (575 mm x 435 mm)
Purchased with help from the Art Fund, the Portrait Fund, the American Friends of the National Portrait Gallery in memory of David Alexander (President 2003 to 2010), Richard Aylmer, Sir Harry Djanogly CBE, the Golden Bottle Trust, Terry and Maria Hughes, Lady Rose Monson, Sir Charles and Lady Nunneley, Sir David Scholey CBE and Lady Scholey, and two anonymous supporters, 2013
Primary Collection
NPG 6976

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • William Larkin (circa 1580-1619), Painter. Artist associated with 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Lady Anne Clifford commissioned numerous portraits, including two large triptychs, and works of family history. She kept a diary in which she records this portrait: 'my Picture … which Larkin drew this summer at Knole'.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 29 Read entry

    Anne Clifford (1590-1676) was the only surviving child of George Clifford, third Earl of Cumberland, and his wife, Lady Margaret. She became famous for fighting a long legal battle over what she believed to be her rightful inheritance: the estates in Westmorland and Yorkshire that her father bequeathed to his brother in 1605. Among the many milestones in her fight was her refusal, in 1617, to accept a settlement of £17,000 to resolve the dispute and agree that all the estates should be retained by her uncle and his male heirs. It was only in 1643, after the death of her cousin, that Anne regained the Clifford family estates and she subsequently dedicated herself to restoring and enhancing the castles and churches on her lands. A diarist and writer, she also commissioned numerous portraits, including two large triptychs, and works of family history. At her death, she was probably the wealthiest noblewoman in England.

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  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 123 Read entry

    More commonly remembered as Lady Anne Clifford, Anne was the only surviving child of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland. She became famous for fighting a long and determined legal battle over what she believed to be her rightful inheritance: extensive properties in Westmorland and Yorkshire, which her father had left to his brother. She had two unhappy marriages: first to Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset, and subsequently to Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke. She finally came into her inheritance after the death of her cousin in 1643 and spent the last decades of her life restoring and rebuilding the castles and churches on her properties. She was not published during her lifetime but kept extensive diaries that provide a vivid document of her life and times. Lady Anne recorded her appearance in her diary: 'the colour of mine eyes was black like my father's and the form and aspect of them was quicke and lively like my mother's. The hair of my head was brown and very thick … with a peak of hair on my forehead and a dimple in my chin.' She commissioned numerous portraits during her lifetime – including two large triptychs – and works of family history; she noted, of this painting: 'my Picture … which Larkin drew this summer at Knole'. A few years before this commission, William Larkin had captured the extravagance of Lady Anne's husband Richard and his brother Edward in two lavish full-length portraits (Kenwood House).

  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 81

Events of 1618back to top

Current affairs

Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban, is appointed Lord High Chancellor. He would be impeached for bribery three years later ending his political career.
Lord High Treasurer Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, and his wife, Katherine, are charged with embezzlement and found guilty the following year.

Art and science

Jurist, politician and scholar, John Selden, publishes his History of Tythes, in which he concedes the legal right of the Church of England to collect tithes, but denies divine authority.
The Royal College of Physicians compiles the London Pharmacopoeia, a standard list of medicines and their ingredients.


Sir Walter Ralegh's voyage to Guiana tragically fails. Unable to find treasure, his attack against the Spanish settlement San Thomé, during which his son Walter dies, dangerously jeopardises Anglo-Spanish relations. Ralegh returns home and is executed for treason.
Start of the Thirty Years War, precipitated by the Bohemian Revolt.

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