Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel
- Tudor and Jacobean Portraits Database
Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel
by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
oil on panel, 1565
46 3/8 in. x 32 in. (1178 mm x 813 mm)
New attribution: Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
Key findings: Close comparison with the portrait of John Lumley, by 'Steven' suggests that this painting is the work of a different artist.
Purchased by the Gallery at Sotheby’s on 16 April 1980. Previously in the collection of N. R. Colville, Penheale Manor, Launceston, Cornwall; sold as ‘Sir Thomas Gresham by Mor’ at Christie’s on 24 February 1939 (lot 132).
Notes on likely authorship
The portrait has previously been attributed to Steven Van Der Meulen on the grounds that it is possibly one of the portraits of Arundel identified as being by ‘Steven’ in the Lumley Inventory of 1590 (Strong, 1969, p. 123). However, notwithstanding the fact that ‘the famous paynter Steven’ mentioned in the Lumley Inventory may actually be the medallist Steven van Herwijck (Grosvenor, 2009, pp. 12-17), close comparison with the portrait of John, Lord Lumley which can be securely attributed to ‘Steven’, and which survives in a Private collection, suggests that NPG 5296 is the work of a different artist.
Commentary on painting style, technique
The painting technique is not particularly subtle but the use of pigments and paint mixtures is both interesting and varied. In some parts the paint is paste-like and granular, such as in the chair, the facial features and the highlights. In the flesh paint in the hands and ear the paint is more subtly worked in thinner layers, some wet-in- wet, over the pale priming. The layer structure and technique in the chair is complex, with opaque layers and glazes. Good quality azurite pigment is used in various ways in the paint mixtures.
Justification for dating
The technique and materials in use are entirely consistent with a work from this period. The inscription in the upper-right corner: ‘Ao 1565 / 21 DECEMBRY’, the position of which was first incised into the priming layer with horizontal lines, is supported by dendrochronology, which has revealed the wood derives from a tree which was felled after 1554.
Drawing and transfer technique
Black underdrawing is visible in a number of areas, such as the eyes, right eyebrow, moustache, brow, hands, the cuff on the hand on the right, the hairline and the jaw beneath the ear. These marks were freely drawn with a fine, seemingly dry medium. Black underdrawing can also be seen in the hands and cheek where the paint was thinly applied, and it plays a role in defining the fingers and veins, and individual hairs in the beard.
Relevance to other known versions
Another version was in the collection of a Major Howard in 1931; present whereabouts unknown (offered to the gallery by Spink in 1927).
Similar versions, which do not include the chair:
- collection of Nick Spencer, Daneway House, Gloucestershire; purchased at Sotheby’s on 10 July 1996 (lot 14). Previously owned by Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, the sitter’s son-in-law, then his son Lord William Howard of Naworth after which it remained in the family until 1996. Attributed to Anthonis Mor.
- version with the Lumley cartellino, previously in the collection of Commander Phillips - sold at Christie’s on 23 November 1979 (lot 135). Presumably one of the two portraits by Steven mentioned in the Lumley inventory. Location unknown.
- version in the Sackville collection at Knole - part of a set
Cust, Lionel, ‘The Lumley Inventories’, Walpole Society, VI, 1918, pp. 15-35
Grosvenor, Bendor, ‘The identity of ‘the famous painter Steven: Not Steven van der Meulen but Steven van Herwijck’, The British Art Journal, 9.3, 2009, pp. 12-17
Hearn, Karen, ‘The Painters’, The Lumley Inventory and Pedigree, ed. Mark Evans, 2010, pp. 55-8
Hill, G.F., ‘Two Netherlandish Artists in England: Steven van Herwijck and Steven van der Meulen’, Walpole Society, XI, 1922, pp. 29-32
Strong, Roy, The English Icon, 1969, p. 121
Christie’s, Catalogue of Old Pictures, 24th February 1939 (lot 132)
Compare Images (what's this? )
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 panel is in good condition. A split in the lower left-hand corner (from the front), which has a history of opening, is currently stable. Areas of raised, but stable, craquelure and blisters can be seen in the lower left-hand corner, adjacent to and above the split discussed above. The most recently applied varnish layer, dating from 2000, has been disturbed at the edges where the panel is in contact with the frame rebate. Old filled and restored losses can be seen along the panel joins and generally the painting has an uneven texture.
Number of boards: 3
Panel Orientation: Vertical
Panel condition observations
The condition of the panel is sound. Small rectangular wooden buttons are present at points along each of the panel joins, and down an old split in the upper right-hand corner (from back). Remains of adhesive and canvas can be seen along the left join (from back). This canvas strip was removed prior to the application of the wooden buttons. Minor damages to the wood can be seen along the left and right-hand edges, where pins, used to secure the panel into a frame, have dug into the wood on the reverse. Minor damage has been caused to the wood in all four corners (from front).
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.
Number of boards: 3
Last date of tree ring: 1552
For the purposes of examination, the three boards were labelled A to C from the left (from the front). Examination of the reverse suggests that the three boards were most likely to be derived from the same fairly fast grown tree. No sapwood is present on the boards which means that a terminus post quem date can be applied to the panel. The tree-ring sequences for boards A and B were found to cross-match, indicating that they were derived from the same tree, and probably the same board. The last tree rings date from 1546, 1544 and 1552 from boards A - C respectively. Adding the minimum number of sapwood rings suggests that the boards derive from a tree felled after 1554.
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 vertical wood grain is evident and shows relatively wide growth rings. Wooden dowels and non-original support buttons can be seen across the joins. The x-ray is particularly insightful in the interpretation of the painting style and method: the broadly applied lead white priming is clearly visible throughout, and the thickly applied upper paint layers and brushwork in the flesh are clearly evident (see x-ray mosaic 01). In the x-ray, the rather broad brushwork seen in the face contrasts with the fine brushstrokes visible in the beard and moustache. The fabric in the arms is loosely painted in areas of highlight. The pentiment seen in the hat during surface examination is also apparent in x-ray (see Surface examination). The horizontal incised lines beneath the inscription are visible in the x-ray, as are areas of damage to the paint surface along the panel joins and two old drilled holes in the centre of the top edge.
A technique used to observe the layers beneath the paint surface which can reveal underdrawing and changes to the initial design.
Black underdrawing is visible in a number of areas: such as the eyes, the eyebrow on the left, the moustache, brow, and hands, the cuff on the right, the hairline, the chair arm on the right and the jaw beneath the ear (see IRR mosaic 01). These marks appear to have been freely drawn with a fine, finely dispersed pigment in a wet medium. The infrared mosaic of the hands (see IRR mosaic 02) clearly indicates changes to the composition, such as the length of the thumb on the hand on the right and position of the edge of the black costume over the chair arm. In the final painting, the thumb on the hand on the right was lengthened, and the black costume was extended over the chair arm, making it slightly fuller.
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 August 2009.
The panel was prepared with a thick chalk ground, followed by a thin pale grey priming layer. Sample 7, taken from the hand on the right, shows the thin priming above the ground to be composed of lead white and a fine particled black pigment, probably lamp black.
Large agglomerations of black present between the priming and upper paint layers in sample 7 appear to be fragments of underdrawing material. This appears to have been carried out with lamp black, applied wet in either either gum (or other aqueous medium) or oil. A sparkly underdrawing material was also noted during surface examination.
The white of the eyes contains some azurite. The iris was painted using lead white (large particles), a little bone black and tiny traces of red and yellow.
The flesh is composed of lead white, black (probably bone black), vermilion and occasional particles of red lead. Traces of azurite were also present. The lips contain some very strongly tinted red lake pigment and some red earth. A dispersion of sample 1, taken from the eyebrow on the right, identified a mixture of large particles characteristic of vine black, red ochre and strong red lake.
The rich black of the costume has drying cracks throughout. In dispersion the black was identified as having large rounded particles characteristic of bone black. The grey highlights on the costume contain lead white, black and red and a few particles of azurite (see sample 3). Lead soap protrusions are visible in passages of black paint, particularly in the hat. These most likely originate from the lead white based priming. The white of the proper left cuff contains azurite (see sample 6 and 7).
Garter medal and chair
The green rim around the garter medal was sampled and found to be a mixture of azurite and yellow ochre (see sample 5). This contrasts with the bright green used on the chair, which was found to be a copper green glaze (see sample 9).
Sample 2, taken from an area of background, shows it to consist of a rich mixture of translucent yellow, orange and red pigments. Large particles of bright yellow ochre could be seen alongside sienna and good quality red lake. Sample 4 shows a trace of what appears to be a reddish glaze at the surface. This suggests that the background may have originally been a rich red, rather than the present mid-tone brown, which would have contrasted well with the green of the chair. Sample 10, taken from an area of dark background in the lower right, shows the brown paint to be composed of a thick layer of mixed earths and black. Above this there is an additional layer of brown and a red lake layer on the surface. This supports the suggestion that the background originally had an overall red lake glaze. The lower dark brown layer seen in this sample may be evidence of a pentiment in the costume here, or an indication of the dark shadow at an early stage of painting.
The inscription was painted with two types of lead-tin yellow. The difference in tone between the two types was not created by mixing red lead (or another warm pigment) with the lead-tin yellow. Instead a warmer tone of pure lead-tin yellow was used, alongside the typical pale yellow type.
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
Although the technique is not particularly subtle, the use of pigments and paint mixtures is both interesting and varied. In several parts the paint is paste-like and granular, particularly in the details on the chair, facial features and highlights. There is a considerable amount of fine drying craquelure in the yellow detail on the chair. The paint layers in the chair are interesting and complex. The handling of the flesh paint in the hands and ear is more subtly worked in thinner layers above the pale priming. Due to the thin nature of the paint in the hands and cheek, the black underdrawing is visible on the surface. This plays a role in defining the outline of the fingers and veins.
There is a chalk ground. The thin pale grey priming consists of lead white and a small amount of lamp black.
The underdrawing may be executed in two different blacks: lamp black in a wet medium, and a black which has a silvery appearance, possibly graphite. Black underdrawing is visible on the surface in a number of areas, particularly in the hands and the edge of the cheekbone on the left. Given the extent to which these lines can be seen in the hands, it is likely that this effect was intentional, and was intended to play a role in defining the fingers. The visible underdrawing has a freely drawn appearance (see micro 09 and micro 18) and was not accurately followed at the painting stage.
The initial paint layer on the face appears to have been reasonably broadly painted, with thick opaque colour, directly above the pale priming layer and drawing. A thin application of dark brown was applied above the still wet flesh paint, creating shadows and definition. When examined using light microscopy, small ridges can be seen where the wet flesh colour was manipulated by the application of the thin, darker paint above (see micro 11 and micro 14). In contrast, areas such as the edge of the cheek on the left and the hands were thinly painted with wet-in-wet blending, exposing the pale priming as a mid-tone (see micro 10). The flesh paint mixture (seen micro 17) is composed of lead white, vermilion, bone black, red lake, azurite (in the highlights) and perhaps some yellow ochre. The final painting of the hands was over the costume. At this stage minor changes were made, making the edge of the hand on the left and the ring finger fuller (see detail 03). The ring was painted over the flesh using lead white, black, vermilion, lead-tin yellow and yellow ochre. The lips are painted with strong red lake and some red earth.
The eyes were smoothly blended wet-in-wet with thick, opaque flesh colour and defined with a dark brown paint as detailed above. The whites of the eyes have a high proportion of lead white and azurite, mixed with vermilion and a little yellow ochre (see micro 11). The black appears to be bone black.
Hair and beard
The beard was laid in with an initial opaque grey/brown layer. In areas where the beard and moustache were painted over flesh, it is thinly painted allowing the priming to show through as a mid-tone. The underdrawing is also visible beneath the thinly applied beard paint in the chin, which serves to define individual hairs and create shadows (see micro 16). Individual hairs were then painted over the initial beard colour using a pale brown and a fine soft brush. The soft edge of hair extending over the sitter's ear was achieved by using a broader stiff brush, dragging the dark brown hair paint over the ear (see micro 14).
There is a considerable amount of damage and restoration in the costume, particularly in the brown fur collar, which appears to have been entirely restored with a thin brown glaze. The use of good quality azurite in the costume is interesting, and is found in both the shadow and highlight of the sleeves (see micro 01 and micro 02). The cool grey sleeves were painted with a mixture of azurite, bone black, lead white, earth pigments and a little vermilion, with a higher proportion of lead white and azurite in the pale folds of fabric.
Collar and cuffs
In contrast to many other examples of painted cuffs and collars seen thus far, the shadows and definition are achieved with the use of a dark brown paint, applied directly above a still wet, pale grey laying-in layer. The dark brown paint was applied with a soft brush, to smoothly blend the paint, and create light impasto where the pale grey and dark brown meet (see micro 05). Azurite was then also added to the cool grey in areas of shadow, particularly in the cuff on the right (see micro 07).
The glove was thinly painted above the dark costume paint using yellow ochre and lead white, blended wet-in-wet (see micro 04). A medium-rich brown was then applied above to create the shadows, folds and definition. This layer displays a similar craquelure pattern to the medium-rich brown on the chair frame.
It appears that the red/brown background paint was painted in one or two layers, directly above the pale grey priming. The paint mixture in the lighter passages consists of large particles of bright yellow ochre, sienna and red lake (and perhaps some lead white). Above this fragments of a red lake glaze have been observed in cross-sections. This suggests the background may have originally been a rich red as opposed to the dull red/brown we see today (see Paint sampling). In areas of shadow, mixed earth pigments, black and red were used (see Paint sampling).
The layer structure and technique used in the chair is both interesting and complex. The chair frame was initially painted with a thin application of medium-rich brown, applied directly above the pale priming layer. The priming acts as a mid-tone here. The paint on the chair frame exhibits a very fine craquelure pattern, similar to that previously seen in the hair of a number of other works (such as NPG 1766 Mary, Queen of Scots). This area also has a large proportion of lead soaps visible on the surface, which probably originate from an underlayer rich in lead white. Above the medium-rich brown, a thin layer of lead white was used for the 'Greek key' pattern, above which more brown was used for shadows (see micro 03). The grey/green in the chair structure was then painted using verdigris, azurite, lead white and yellow ochre for the highlights and a deep copper green glaze for the shadows. The golden fringe edging on the chair was then applied above using a thin layer of lead-tin yellow and yellow ochre, with a soft, fine brush (see micro 20). The chair studs and knobs were created with lead-tin yellow and a thin medium-rich brown for the shadows above (see micro 19).
The position of the inscription was first incised into the priming layer with horizontal lines. The lettering was then painted above the background using two types of lead-tin yellow for variations in tone (see micro 13).
Order of construction
- Underdrawing in carbon black, perhaps two types: lamp black and a sparkly black
- Flesh: face and hands
- Beard and hair
- Collar and cuff
- Hands finished and cuff highlights added
- Lead-tin yellow details on chair, ring and chain (see micro 08)
The eyes are abraded and quite heavily restored (see micro 11) and the fur collar appears to be entirely restored with a thin glaze. Isolated retouchings can be seen throughout.
Lead white, lamp black, bone black, vine black, earth pigments, lead-tin yellow, vermilion, azurite, verdigris, copper green glaze, red lead, red lake, yellow ochre and red ochre.
Changes to composition/pentimenti
The hands appear to have been altered slightly at a later stage in the painting process, making the hand on the left and the ring finger appear slightly fuller.
A method which helps to reveal past restoration and the extent of varnish layers.
There is a thick, natural resin varnish present on the painting which fluoresces green in ultra violet light (see UV 01). There are many areas of retouching and glazing across the surface, especially along the panel joins. The face and hands are in very good condition with minimal retouching.