Admission free. Donations welcome
Open daily 10:00-18:00. Open late Thursday and Friday until 21:00
Become a Member
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Sir William Butts
after Hans Holbein the Youngeroil on panel, late 16th century, based on a work of circa 1540-154318 1/2 in. x 14 3/4 in. (470 mm x 375 mm)Purchased, 1866NPG 210
Back to main page
Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.
If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.
Please note that we cannot provide valuations.
We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.
Hugo Vickery Graham Butts
30 April 2017, 15:33
Sir William Butts is in the National Biography. One of his sons Edmund Butts was painted by John Betts, This picture is the oldest picture in the Tate called Man in a Black Hat, It was painted in 1545 the year of Sir William's death when Edmund Butts would have inherited a fortune, it is not directly attributed by The Tate but some scholars say it is Edmund Butts and his name is etched on the frame of the picture. Sir William's Wife was dame Butts who was lady in waiting to Ann Boleyn. There is a Holbein etching of her in the Queen's collection at Windsor. Sir William also wrote on religion and his papers are in the British Museum. His family had held the manor of Thornage in Norfolk which Henry VIII added to. The family are first mentioned as renting land from King John. The family coat of arms carries is adorned by the prince of Wales three feathers awarded by the Black Prince in the battle in which he obtained this emblem ( i think defeating a welsh chieftain. The sons of Sir William all married into the Bacon family, holder of the Privy Seal. One of his sons was Sherriff of Nottingham and was knighted in some battle. You have etchings of Lady Butts who must be a grandaughter or great grandaughter of Sir William. His ancestors incuded two Thomas Butts's one of whom was a student of William Blake and the other his patron. In the British Museum there are miniatures by Blake of the two Thomas's and an Elizabeth Butts. A direct descendant of Sir William is Mary Butts a famous writer friends of John Cocteau who sketched her, Ezra Pound, and other writers living in Paris in the l920"s.Her family home of Saltings in Devon was where many Blake pictures were kept and the Holbein of Sir William, now in Boston, which was sold by Mary Butts mother for 15,000 pounds in the early 20th century. There is a biography of Mary Butts, plus her novels. Sir William was buried in Fulham Church where there was originally a full size brass which was removed/destroyed at some point. There is still a skull and crossbones to Sir William on the wall of the church. Sir William briefly appears in Shakespeare's Henry VIII play defending Cranmer. Another distaff descendant was Bishop Butts of Ely, previously Norwich. There is a bust of him at Ely Cathedral, and reference at Norwich Cathedral.
There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.
How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.
The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.
Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.
If you tick permission to publish your name will appear above your contribution on our website.
Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.
Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE
Switchboard: +44 (0) 20 7306 0055