PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THE 7TH EARL OF CLARENDON
Possibly Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674), at Clarendon House, London;
Possibly by descent to his son, Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon (1638-1709), at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire;
Possibly by descent, at Cornbury, and later The Grove, Hertfordshire, to his nephew, Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Rochester and later 4th Earl of Clarendon (1672-1753);
Possibly transferred to his son, Henry Hyde, 5th Baron Hyde and Viscount Cornbury (1710-1753), in 1749, who died without issue;
by descent to his niece, Charlotte (d.1790), eldest daughter of William Capel, 3rd Earl of Essex (1697-1743), who married Thomas Villiers, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1709-1786), of the second creation;
thence by descent to the present owner
Plymouth, City Museum and Art Gallery, Paintings in the Clarendon Collection, 1954, p. 10., no. 6;
Buckland Abbey, Plymouth, on long term loan until 2010
G. P. Harding, List of Portraits, Pictures in Various Mansions in the United Kingdom, unpublished MS 1804, Vol. II, p. 209;
Lady T. Lewis, Lives of the Friends and Contemporaries of Lord Chancellor Clarendon, London 1852, Vol. III, pp. 271-272, no. 6;
P. Toynbee, 'Horace Walpole's journals of visits to country seats, &c', Walpole Society, Vol. XVI, 1927, p. 38 (The Grove, Sept. 1761);
R. Gibson, Catalogue of Portraits in the Collection of the Earl of Clarendon, Wallop 1977, no. 133, pp. 119-120
It is likely that Clarendon purchased this painting believing it to be a Portrait of Elizabeth I. It is clearly not a portrait of the Queen but possibly a rare late Portrait of Bess of Hardwick. Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury was a formidable woman who, despite the limitations of her gender capitalised upon four judicious marriages and rose from humble birth to the rank and riches of a Countess. She married firstly Robert Barlow, secondly Sir William Cavendish, thirdly Sir William St Loe and lastly George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. She oversaw the building of two family seats which survive today; Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall. The latter still contains the full length Portrait of Elizabeth I which Bess commissioned c. 1599. The style of Bess' ruff and pose in this portrait deliberately aligns her with that portrait. Furthermore, the inclusion of the globe on which she rests her right hand proclaims her loyalty to her namesake, Queen Elizabeth. This portrait also includes her distinctive 'ropes of greate perle' which were listed amongst her jewellery in 1593 and which she also displays in another late portrait at Hardwick Hall.
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