SOLD BY ORDER OF THE 12TH DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND AND THE TRUSTEES OF THE NORTHUMBERLAND ESTATES
Possibly acquired by Lady Elizabeth Percy (1667–1722), widow of Thomas Thynne, cousin of Viscount Weymouth, who married the 6th Duke of Somerset in 1687;
By descent to her grand daughter who married Sir Hugh Smithson, later 1st Duke of Northumberland (1714–1786);
Thence by descent.
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of 17th Century Art in Europe, 1938, no. 90;
London, Royal Academy, Flemish Art 1300–1700, 1953–54, no. 222.
E. Larsen, L'Opera completa di Van Dyck, 1980, vol. 2, no. A.86 (as attributed to Dobson);
E. Larsen, The Paintings of Anthony Van Dyck, 1988, vol. II, no. A214 (as attributed to Dobson);
O. Millar, et. al., Van Dyck. A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven and London 2004, p. 592, no. IV.208, reproduced (as Van Dyck).
Frances was the daughter of the great Elizabethan courtier, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565-1601), and his wife Frances, the only daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham (c.1532-1590). Frances's father had been one of the old Queen's favourites, but despite serving in the Armada campaign and distinguishing himself at the capture of Cadiz in 1596, he had a chequered career at court and was eventually beheaded for treason in 1601 for his part in the Essex rebellion, when Frances was still in infancy. In 1617 she married, as his second wife, William Seymour, Earl of Hertford (1588-1660). Seymour was later created Marquess of Hertford in 1641, and in 1660, following the Restoration of the Monarchy, he was restored to the titles of his great-grandfather, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1500-1552), Lord Protector of England, which had been made forfeit in 1552, as the 2nd Duke of Somerset.
A devout supporter of the King, William was one of the leading Royalist commanders during the Civil War, though he remained in informal contact with his brother-in-law, Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex, who was Captain General and Chief Commander of the Army of Parliament until 1644. The couple had seven children, including John Seymour, 4th Duke of Somerset, who inherited the title from his nephew in 1671. Painted circa 1636, versions of the composition, probably painted in the studio and with some variations, are at Plas Newydd, Helmingham Hall and Badminton House. The lock of hair, which hangs over Frances's shoulder, beside her pearl necklace, is said to have been her father's.
This portrait probably served as the model for the bust of the Duchess on her Mmonument, which was was erected by her granddaughter, Frances Finch, in 1706 at St Mary's Church, Great Bedwyn.
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