Lot 1
  • 1

George Vertue 1684-1756

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • George Vertue
  • The Royal Progress of Queen Elizabeth I
  • signed in gold l.l.: Georgius Vertue pinxit 1740., and inscribed above: The Original of this picture was painted in Oyl colours. 7 foot large by 5.f.hi: and belongs to the  Rt.Honble Lord Digby at Coleshill in Warwickshire Ao.1738., and below: of this picture/the Original/in large in oil. [sic]/The Rt.Honble. the most Curious & Noble Encourager of Arts. The Earl of Oxford & Earl Mortimer, took me with him to Coleshill to see it, and afterwards borrowd it for to have this coppy painted. as the History of this picture was then quite unknown to the Lord Digby. there/being no date.nor inscription on it. I was desird to find out the memorable story. when, where, & what it represented, which I have done, at large. it was [done] for the Ld.Henry Hunsdon, after Queen Elizabeth had thrice Honourd him with visits, at Hunsdon House in Hertfordshire
  • gouache on vellum wrapped around panel, with two books


Commissioned from the artist by Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford, his sale, Mr Cock 'at his House in the Great Piazza, Covent-Garden', 13th March 1742, lot 46 (bt.Sir [Charles?] Hanbury-Williams £51/9/-);
John 3rd Earl of Bute, one of the sales from his estate in May 1794 (Leigh & Sotheby), February 1796 (Christie's), April 1801 (King), April 1809 (Leigh & Sotheby) or June 1822 (Christie's) (bt Rudge);
Edward Rudge, The Abbey Manor, Evesham, Worcestershire;
by descent until sold in these Rooms on 19th November 1987, lot 41


Horace Walpole, Catalogue of Engravers, who have been born, or resided in England, Strawberry-Hill, 1763, part II, p.10

by George Vertue in Description of Four Ancient Paintings, being Historial Portraitures of Royal Branches of the Crown of England, 1740, plate IX (published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1776)

Catalogue Note

In October 1737, Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford, took George Vertue to Coleshill, the Warwickshire seat of William, 5th Lord Digby. There Vertue recorded seeing the painting of The Royal Progress of Queen Elizabeth I, which Lord Digby thought recorded 'Queen Elizabeth doing Honour to a Young married  Couple, ' but did not know who was involved, where or when.  The following year, Lord Oxford arranged for the painting to be taken to London for Vertue to copy it and to carry out the necessary research with the help of fellow antiquarians and historians.  Vertue devised the ingenious explanation that the painting was by Marcus Gheeraerdts the Younger, and depicted a visit by Queen Elizabeth to her cousin Lord Hunsdon at his house in Hertfordshire.  He also identified some of the group of figures, although some of these indentifications are now thought to be incorrect.  The text of Vertue's manuscript, which accompanies this painting, was incorporated in his Description of Four Ancient Paintings, being Historical Portraitures of Royal Branches of the Crown of England, published in 1740 (although the plate is dated 1742),  and contains Vertue's detailed explanation of the painting.  The Manuscript is dedicated to Lord Oxford and dated Decembr 20/1739/GV and the printed text December 20, 1740. A copy of part of the text of A Description also accompanies this lot, but includes Vertue's description of three other Tudor Paintings: A Royal Piece by Holbein, The Memorial of Lord Darnley by Bernard Lens III and The British Array of Carberry Hill.

Lord Oxford was so  pleased with Vertue's copy that according to Horace Walpole, he sent him and his wife 'about sixty ounces of plate.'  The original painting, which has descended in Lord Digby's family to John Wingfield-Digby Esq. at Sherborne Castle, Dorset, is now thought to be by Robert Peake, and shows Elizabeth carried in triumph and surrounded by her courtiers, the principal figure in the foreground being Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, who became Master of the Horse in 1601.  The gentleman immediately behind him is possibly his son Thomas, later Lord Cashel, and the gentleman in white is his eldest son, Lord Herbert. The bearer of the Sword of State is Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury.  For a full discussion of the iconography of the painting see Sir Roy Strong, Gloriana, The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, 1987, pp.152-155