Sir Edward Rogers
- Tudor and Jacobean Portraits Database
Sir Edward Rogers
by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1567
26 3/4 in. x 20 3/4 in. (679 mm x 527 mm)
Key findings: The artist may have used a pattern for the head and shoulders but experimented with various poses for the figure.
This portrait was purchased by the Gallery at Christie’s on 19 January 1951 (lot 94). It was previously in the collection of the Dukes of Bedford at Woburn Abbey: it was noted there by Tough in 1727 and by Walpole in c. 1751(Strong, 1969, p. 268).
Rogers was made vice-chamberlain, captain of the guard and privy councillor by Elizabeth I immediately after her accession in 1558. By 21 January 1559 he had become controller of the queen’s household. He holds a white rod of office in this portrait. Usually very active, his absence from the Privy Council in 1567-8 suggests that he may have been suffering from poor health around this time; he died in 1568.
Notes on likely authorship
This portrait has previously been linked to the artist Arnold van Bronckorst (Strong, 1969, p.268). However, the handling is Anglo-Netherlandish and, as technical analysis has shown, it appears quite distinct from the Scottish portraits ascribed to this artist.
Commentary on condition, painting style and technique
The paint is generally in good condition and the ground and paint are structurally sound but there are a number of splits on the upper left.
The paint layers have been simply built up. The black costume paint was brushed up into the edge of the reserve left for the beard, forming the first hairs at the edge of the beard. This technique has been observed in Netherlandish portraits of this period. The fine brushwork for the grey beard hairs, with wet-in-wet blending but the method is simple, and comparatively unsophisticated. Incised lines were made in the priming for the position of the lettering in the background.
Justification for dating
The technique and materials in use are entirely consistent with a work from this period and support the date on the inscription, ‘AN DNI 1567’ and ‘AETATIS SUAE 69’ which is part of the original paint surface. However, dendrochronology could not be carried out as the panel edges are covered by an attached wooden support.
Drawing and transfer technique
There is extensive carbon-based underdrawing in the face, collar and hand, much of it in the form of short parallel lines, particularly in areas where shadows are indicated. It appears to have been made with a liquid medium.
Infrared reflectography shows an interesting circular shape to the left of the sitter’s hand which is not visible in x-ray, ultra violet light or with surface examination. The purpose of this shape is not clear but it might be a reserve for a second hand, which was then covered with black costume paint. This evidence of significant change in the structure of the composition indicates that although the head and shoulders may have derived from an established pattern, the body did not. It seems likely that the artist’s original design was to show two hands held at the waist, perhaps with large cuffs. This was abandoned at a reasonably early stage and the present composition shows only a single hand holding the rod. However, the ‘disappearance’ of the second hand and the unseen arm leads to a rather unsatisfactory composition. Infrared reflectography also shows a partial circle above the visible hand holding the rod of office. On the surface, this mark appears to have been scored into the priming layer, and could perhaps have been used to mark the area for the hand prior to painting.
Relevance to other known versions
There are no other known contemporary portraits of Rogers.
Scharf, George, Catalogue of Pictures at Woburn Abbey, 1887, p. 15, no. 20
Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p.268
Christie’s, Bedford Sale, 19 January 1951 (lot 94)
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Compare high-resolution images against the painting - mainly x-ray and infra-red photography images, but sometimes UV or raking light images - side by side with the ability to zoom in on details.
The painting is generally in good condition and the ground and paint are structurally sound. There are a few isolated cracks in the face and background, and a regular network of craquelure in the fur and costume. The secondary support has restricted the natural movement of the panel, and caused a number of splits, noticeably in the upper left-hand corner. Extensive old paint losses exist around the upper part of both joins, particularly in the hat and forehead. Further cracking has also occurred around the edges, and a raised but stable area of paint was noted along the right side of the upper edge (see Surface examination). The quality of the restoration is good, but the general appearance is affected by past uneven cleaning in the costume, and the thickness of the current varnish layers. See the full condition report carried out by Rachel Scott on 18/06/09.
Panel Orientation: Vertical
Panel condition observations
The left panel join, present through the face, is slightly open on the paint surface and the canvas strip at the back has split a little down the join. The cradling structure is creating unnecessary stress in the panel. There is an old split at the top of the left-hand panel member, running 170 mm down from the top edge. This is related to woodworm damage in this area, which can be seen on the back. The split has opened a little on the paint surface (see raking 01). There is considerable restoration where there are old paint losses, down the upper part of the left-side join and at the top of the other join, running into the face. The smooth surface of the back of the panel indicates that it has probably been thinned to some extent. There are cracks at the back of the left-side panel, related to woodworm damage. Strips of canvas are glued to the back of the panel joins. Three horizontal wooden buttons are glued across the left-hand panel join. It is evident that the cradling structure was attached later than this repair, and that the central button was planed down in order to allow the crossbar to pass over it.
An examination of tree rings, which can help to provide the earliest possible felling dates for the wood used for the panel. The technique can also indicate the geographical origin of the wood.
Dendrochronology could not be carried out as the panel edges are covered by an attached wooden support.
A technique used to identify changes in composition beneath the surface of the paint layers and to understand the physical structure of a panel or canvas.
The x-ray clearly shows the secondary cradling support, which is attached to the sides and reverse of the panel with pins on all four sides. The panel joins, repairs and more recent spilt are visible, as is an area of circular damage in the sitter's hat. Two wooden buttons, visible on the reverse, can also be seen in x-ray and a number of fills are evident. The x-ray clearly shows the vertical wood grain and the broad, mainly horizontal, brushstrokes of the priming. A small pentiment, in relation to the position of the edge of the collar, is evident in x-ray (see Surface examination and x-ray mosaic 01).
A technique used to observe the layers beneath the paint surface which can reveal underdrawing and changes to the initial design.
Infrared reflectography shows extensive underdrawing in the face, collar and hand. Much of this is also visible using surface microscopy (see Surface examination). In infrared reflectography, the visible lines sketchily outline the eyebrows, eyelids, nose, brow, ear, lips and beard. Details of individual beard and moustache hairs have also been drawn, in addition to areas of shadow and folds in the collar. Much of the underdrawing takes the form of short parallel lines, particularly in areas where shadows are indicated. Undulating lines across the brow can also be seen. The underdrawing appears to have been made with a liquid medium. However, glittery underdrawing can also be seen, with microscopy, in a small damage at the top-right edge of the hat where it has been extended. This change was evidently made with a dry medium, probably graphite (see micro 08 and Surface examination). Infrared reflectography shows an interesting circular shape to the left of the sitter's hand. This is not visible in x-ray or ultra violet light and its function is not clear, but it could possibly be a reserve left for a second hand that was never fully painted. Infrared reflectography shows that the initial paint layers of the coat were applied up to the edge of the reserve, which was then later painted over with the final layers of coat paint. A partial circle can be seen above the visible hand and through the rod of office. On the surface, this mark appears to have been scored into the priming layer, and could perhaps have been used to delineate the area for the hand prior to painting. The brushstrokes of the pendant ribbon can be seen clearly across the edge of the left-hand circular shape discussed above, whereas it is barely visible in the x-ray (see IRR mosaic 01 and IRR mosaic 02).
Investigation into microscopic pigment samples or samples of other media in order to help with dating, to reveal the order of the paint layers and help to understand the painting techniques used.
Paint samples were taken to analyse the pigments and layer structure of the painting in June 2009.
Sampling opportunities were limited due to the presence of restoration and the secondary support around the edges of the panel.
The ground consists of a thick chalk layer, followed by a pale off-white priming. The nature of the priming varied within the sample at different stages of grinding. At an early stage of polishing the priming appeared to consist of a relatively thick layer of lead white with some black and red inclusions. However, further grinding of the sample showed a thinner priming layer, suggesting that the preparation layer was unevenly applied.
A sample of visible underdrawing, taken from the edge of the sitter's hat, was thought to have been carried out in graphite due to its shiny, scumbled nature. However, the appearance of the sample when viewed in reflected light suggests that the tool might be lead or silverpoint. As this sample has not been analysed, and graphite also has a sparkly appearance, identification of this drawing material is inconclusive at this time.
The dark background is composed of a complex mixture of pigments, including black, red and yellow ochre, lead-tin yellow and lead white. In addition, particles of silica or glass were observed. A sample of transparent greenish particles, visible in the background was also set as a dispersion. This showed the presence of a pale translucent green, possibly green earth.
Lead-tin yellow and red lead
Lead-tin yellow was identified as the pigment used in both the pendant and inscription. Small particles of red lead were noted in these passages, which might have been a natural or chemical occurrence within the lead-tin yellow. Alternatively, the pigment supplier or artist may have deliberately added red lead to the lead-tin yellow to enrich the colour of the yellow and make it appear more golden in tone.
An examination of the construction of paint layers, glazes and condition often using a microscope. This method provides important evidence concerning an artist’s technique and paint handling and can reveal a specific artist’s characteristic painting style.
Painting style and method
The painting is simply constructed using thin applications of paint.
The panel was prepared with a white chalk ground, above which a thin off-white priming was applied. The primary features were underdrawn in carbon black (see Infrared reflectography), and can be seen on the surface in the inner corner of the eye on the right and along the upper right edge of the hat (see micro 08 and micro 09).
Fine brushstrokes and wet-in-wet blending have been used in the flesh painting (see micro 04, micro 07 and micro 13). The eyebrow on the left was extended a little over the background at the end of the painting process (see micro 03).
Although no paint samples were taken from the eyes, very fine particles of smalt and azurite could be seen in the whites of the eyes using surface microscopy (see micro 15). It is interesting to find two blue pigments employed alongside each other to create a paint mixture in this way.
Hair and beard
A warm light buff layer was applied, and above this a thin pale grey layer was used to block in the area of the beard. The black costume paint was then brushed up into the edge of the beard reserve, forming the first hairs of its lower edge (see micro 16). Individual white hairs were then painted with single, fine brushstrokes above the grey underlayer, and some of the edges were feathered with a dry brush (see micro 17). Fine azurite and smalt particles have been identified in a small area of shadow in the beard (see micro 10).
The white collar was laid in using a thin application of white before the jacket paint was applied. The jacket and fur were painted with brown and black, in varying degrees of thickness. In areas of highlight, very little paint has been applied above the priming layer, whereas in areas of shadow and fur detail, the paint is thicker. Details and shadows in the collar were thinly painted in black above the initial layer of white (see micro 11). The position of the edge of the white collar was altered during the painting process, extending it to the right, making it fuller (see micro 06 and x-ray mosaic 01). This pentiment was made after the black jacket was laid in, and is now visible due to an increase in the transparency of the oil paint medium over time.
Pendant/Locket and ribbon
The ribbon is very thinly painted in grey, with lighter grey highlights (see micro 05). Red lake particles can be seen in the highlights of the ribbon, mixed with lead white. The paint of the ribbon is very faint. The colour present does not appear to have faded and appears to have been painted in a dull earth colour. Given the presence of red lake particles in the highlights, it is possible that a thin red or yellow lake glaze has entirely faded, or been removed during past cleaning. The gold pendant is painted with lead-tin yellow with the addition of a little red lead. The darker yellow used may be a different type of lead-tin yellow to the brighter one above, or may have had an earth pigment added (see micro 14). This could not be confirmed as paint sampling was not possible in this area.
Prior to painting, horizontal incised lines were used to indicate the position of the lettering (see micro 20). The inscription was then painted using lead-tin yellow. Red lead particles can be seen amongst the lead-tin yellow, particularly in the letters in the upper left. This may have been added by the pigment supplier or artist, or may have occurred naturally in the batch of lead-tin yellow used (see micro 19 and Paint sampling).
The cartellino was applied at a later date and is similar to one found on NPG 3800. Both of these paintings were purchased from the Duke of Bedford's collection at Woburn Abbey, where it is thought the cartellini were applied during the seventeenth century.
The background is painted using a mixture of earth pigments, black, vermilion, red lake and dull green particles. There are small pits left by lost pigment particles. There seem to be two types of black pigment particle, one very dark and the other more grey and sparkly.
Order of construction
- Background laid in
- Flesh and rod of office
- Pale grey underlayer for beard applied
- White of the collar laid in
- Collar extended and shadows applied
- Cuff applied
- Face and hand flesh paint alterations done after jacket
- Beard hairs applied
- Inscription and pendant
Lead white, black, smalt, azurite, lead-tin yellow, vermilion, possibly green earth, yellow and red ochre, red lead, red lake
Changes in composition/pentimenti
The edge of the brow on the left has been extended a little over the background, and the collar extended to the right. The edge of the hat was also extended during the painting process. Along the top right-hand edge of the hat, a sparkly black line of drawing can be seen (see micro 08). The exact position of this drawing within the layer structure is not clear. However, it appears that it may have been drawn after the initial position of the hat had been laid in and below the upper paint layer. This may account for the difference in material from that seen in the underdrawing proper.
A method which helps to reveal past restoration and the extent of varnish layers.
Examination in ultra violet light shows thick opaque varnish layers, which have a greenish fluorescence. Varnish has been partially removed in and around the face, hand, collar and rod of office. Old restoration is evident along the panel joins and down the split in the upper left-hand corner. Further restoration can be seen in the jacket and face, including some strengthening to the eyebrow on the left (see UV 01).