Lot 1
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Master of the Brandon Portrait

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • Master of the Brandon Portrait
  • Portrait of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk (c. 1484-1545)
  • oil on panel


Henry Rawdon-Hastings, 4th Marquess of Hastings (1842-1868), Donington Hall, Leicestershire, who lent the picture to the National Portraits exhibition in 1866;
By inheritance to his sister, Edith Rawdon-Hastings, 10th Countess of Loudoun (1833-1874), who married Charles Frederick Clifton, later Abney-Hastings, 1st Baron Donington (1822-1895);
By descent to their son, Charles Edward Hastings Rawdon-Hastings, 11th Earl of Loudoun and 2nd Baron Donington (1855-1920), Donington Hall, Leicestershire; 
By whom bequeathed to his niece, Edith Maud Rawdon-Hastings, 12th Countess Loudoun (1883-1960);
With Norbert Fischman, London, by 1960.


London, South Kensington Museum, The First Special Exhibition of National Portraits Ending with the Reign of King James the Second, April 1866, no. 71 (as 'Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, K.G., by Hans Holbein');
Derby, Fine Arts Exhibition, 1870, no. 6 (as Hans Holbein);
London, The New Gallery, Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor, 1890, no. 42 (as 'Edward Stafford by Hans Holbein');
Manchester, Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor, 1897, no. 136 (as 'Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, K.G., by Hans Holbein').


P. Ganz, 'A Portrait of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, by "The Master of Queen Mary Tudor"', in The Burlington Magazine, vol. LXX, no. 410, May 1937, pp. 205-07, 210-11 (as The Master of Queen Mary Tudor);
M.J. Friedländer, 'Ein Vlämischer Portraitmaler in England', in Gentsche Bijdragen tot de Kunstgeschiedenis, vol. IV, 1937, pp. 5-18 (as The Master of the Brandon Portrait);
A. Bury, 'Round About the Galleries', in Connoisseur, vol. CXLIII, May 1959, p. 247, reproduced in colour p. 255;
R. Strong, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, London 1969, vol. I, pp. 305-6;
N. Toussaint, 'Le Maître des Portraits Brandon', in B. de Patoul and R. Van Schoute, Les Primitifs flamands et leur temps, Belgium 1994, pp. 514-515 (as Maître des Portraits Brandon);
M. Ainsworth, Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition, New York 1998, pp. 36-8, 53, nts. 7, 54 and nts. 54-56 (as The Master of the Brandon Portrait);
A. van Suchtelen, ''Niet minder mooi en niet minder zeldzaam en waardevol': de Meester van het brandon-portret en het Portret van een man met een Simson-medaille,' in Face Book; Studies on Dutch and Flemish Portraiture of the 16th-18th Centuries, Leiden 2012, pp. 15-22, reproduced in colour p. 17, fig. 2.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden, who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is on a panel, which has been cradled, perhaps fairly recently. Panel and cradle have been painted behind making it hard to tell whether there has been any thinning of the original panel before cradling. The restoration is also quite recent, perhaps a few decades old. The one central joint is now slightly opening at the top. There is a fine even craquelure throughout and no sign of accidental damage or of past cracks in the panel. The blue background has had a certain amount of strengthening, perhaps over time, some of which is recent, with retouching also reinforcing the bands of shadow at the left and upper edges. The shadow of the sitterÂ’s head on the right has been more radically cleaned in the recent restoration and is evidently thin, and has needed further retouching. The underlying blue of the background can be seen around this shadow as also close to the border around the figure. The drapery of the central figure is finely preserved generally, especially the embroidered golden doublet. There has been a little opening in the opaque varnish visible under ultra violet light showing its perfectly intact detail. Various little retouchings are visible scattered across the background, with older retouching also just visible in the shadowy area on the right. There are various small surface touches also in the head, however this is largely well preserved. This report was not done under laboratory conditions. Dendrochronology Report: Analysis of the tree-ring sequences of this panel has identified that the 2 boards of this panel were derived from different trees, both sourced from the eastern Baltic, which were still growing in 1486. A standard estimate for missing sapwood therefore indicates that these boards are likely to have been felled between circa 1494 and circa 1526. A full copy of the dendrochronology report by Ian Tyers is available upon request from the department and will be supplied to the buyer. For details please contact Julian Gascoigne on +44 (0)207 293 5482, or at julian.gascoigne@sothebys.com.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

A man of enormous stature and a distinguished soldier, a leading figure at the court of Henry VIII, and at one point brother-in-law to the King; Charles Brandon was the son of Sir William Brandon (d.1485) and his wife Elizabeth Bruyn (d.1494). His father was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, bearing Henry VII’s standard, and the manner of his death ensured that his son was brought up in the Royal Household, at the very epicentre of the Tudor Court. As a young man he was one of a small group of close companions of the young Prince Henry, later King Henry VIII and by 1505-6 was included among the King’s spears, a group of martial young gallants active in tournaments and courtly display. On Henry VIII’s succession to the throne, Brandon was appointed an esquire to the King, and performed as one of the six challengers at the coronation tournament in 1509, where he competed in all gilt armour. By 1513 he was being recognised by contemporaries as the King’s principal favourite, the only participant dressed identically to Henry in court revels, and appearing in jousts as the King’s sole partner in challenging the rest of the court. In 1510 he succeeded his uncle as Marshal of the King’s Bench, and in 1511 he was appointed Marshal of the King’s household. Elected a Knight of the Garter in 1513 and created Viscount Lisle in May that year, when Henry invaded France in the autumn, Brandon was appointed High Marshal of the army, and led the vanguard of the King’s ward. He distinguished himself as a formidable military presence at the sieges of Thérouanne and Tournai, leading the successful assault on the city gates at the latter, as well as at the Battle of the Spurs. On 1st February 1514 he was created Duke of Suffolk in recognition of his service and in the summer of 1514 led an embassy to Paris, where he took a leading role in in the jousts and festivities surrounding the coronation of Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor as Queen of France, following her marriage to Louis XII as the seal on peace negotiations. In January the following year he was back in France following Louis’s death, charged with escorting Mary back to England and negotiating her dowry settlement.  Whilst in France Mary and Brandon fell in love and were married in secret without Henry’s permission. The King’s displeasure was soon mollified however and in 1520 Brandon played a prominent role alongside Henry in the jousting at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Royal favour persisted and in 1523, after the peace treaty had broken down, it was Brandon who led the King’s army victoriously into France, striking all the way to Prémont in eastern Picardy. In 1536, with the fall of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s senior councillors gained a renewed prominence and Brandon was once again at the forefront of national affairs when he was appointed to suppress the religions uprising known as The Pilgrimage of Grace. A key figure in the increasingly well-defined Privy Council, unlike so many of Henry’s other councillors who fell so spectacularly from grace, Brandon remained a close intimate of the King’s for the rest of his life. In 1545, following Brandon's death on 24thAugust, he was buried by Royal decree in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. 

Having previously been thought to be a portrait of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham by Hans Holbein, and exhibited as such on several occasions in the nineteenth century, this painting came to the attention of scholars in the 1930s. Paul Ganz, writing in 1937 (op.cit), identified the sitter as Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk on the basis of comparison with the physiognomy in two known portraits of Brandon then in English collections.1 One of these was a portrait Ganz attributed to Holbein (ex Lord Donnington, destroyed circa 1939-45), of which there is a version in the National Portrait Gallery. The other, more tellingly, was the double portrait of Brandon and his wife (believed to be his third wife, Mary Tudor) the best known version of which is in the collection of the Duke of Bedford (Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire). In the latter of these, not only does the physiognomy correspond closely to that in the present painting, but the sitter wears the same gold medallion in his hat, engraved with an allegorical subject and the motto ‘je tiens… en sa cord…’. The Woburn Abbey portrait, now attributed to Jan Gossaert, was engraved by George Vertue in 1748 and its provenance can be traced back to Brandon himself.2 Both these paintings depict the sitter in later life, but in all three portraits the Duke wears the Garter Collar and Great George, and is distinguished by his square cut beard, solid build and prominent nose. Identifying four other portraits by the same unknown hand, two of which were believed to represent Mary Tudor, Ganz dubbed the artist The Master of Queen Mary Tudor.

Working independently the German scholar Max J. Friedländer published an article in the same year that offered a more convincing argument for the paintings authorship; one that has come to be widely accepted by modern scholars. Friedländer connected the portrait to a preparatory drawing for the head of a man from circa 1512-1515 in the Cabinet du Dessins, Musée du Louvre, Paris (fig. 1), drawn on the reverse of a Study of Four Girl’s Heads and Two Hands. The drawing had originally formed part of a sketchbook containing six sheets (known as the Klinkosch sketchbook, which was unbound and the pages dispersed in 1889), which Friedländer suggested were all the work of a follower of Gerard David (c.1460-1523), renaming the artist of all the assembled drawings the Master of the Brandon Portrait on the basis of the association with this painting. The attribution of the so-called Klinkosch drawings has been much debated and it is now accepted that the majority of the drawings are by David himself.3 Most recently, however, Ariane van Suchtelen, writing in 2012 in relation to this portrait and echoing Ainsworth and Lugt,4 has suggested that, whilst the Study of Four Girl’s Heads and Two Hands on the recto of the Louvre sheet is certainly the work of David, the Study for the Head of a Man on the verso is the work of another hand, probably an artist working in David’s studio, or closely associated with it.5 Whatever the attribution of the Klincosch drawings, it seems likely that Friedländer’s suggestion – that the artist he called the Master of the Brandon Portrait was probably a follower of Gerard David working in England – is correct. Friedländer attributed a further five portraits to the master, all of which are executed in a South Netherlandish style very close to that of David. In Suchtelen’s most recent article five portraits are given to the master, including the present painting, as well as a Portrait of Edward Stafford,  Duke of Buckingham (ex. Sotheby’s, 6 July 1983, lot 5, see fig. 2), a Portrait of a young man with a Sampson Medal (Mauritshuis, The Hague), and a Portrait of John Bourchier, 1st Baron Berners (National Portrait Gallery, London), together with another portrait of the same sitter (Private Collection, Scotland, see fig. 3). All these portraits express a similar calm dignity and are characterised both by the neat manner of their execution and the striking use of light in the modelling of the sitters’ heads. The two examples illustrated here also show striking similarities in both pose and dress.

Friedländer proposed three possible identifications for the anonymous master, all artists working in London in the third decade of the fifteenth century. The first two were Lucas Hornebout (1490/95-1544) and his father Gerard Hornebout (1465-1541), court painter and illuminator to Margaret of Austria (1480-1530), who worked in Ghent and Antwerp before coming to England at the age of nearly 60. The elder Hornebout’s name appears in accounts from Henry VIII’s household from 1528 to 1531, however he appears to have been primarily a miniature painter. The more likely suggestion is Jan Rav (fl. 1530s-40s), also known by the Latinised form Johannes Corvus. Rav entered the Bruges painters’ corporation in 1512, was living in England by circa 1530, and is said to have been connected with the Brandon household. A portrait of Brandon’s wife Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk (Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire), Dowager Queen of France and sister of Henry VIII, was once inscribed in Latin on the frame Joannes Corvus Flandrus Faciebat (John Raven of Flanders did this), and it is generally accepted that this artist can also be identified with the ‘Jehan Raf, peintre de Flandres’ who executed a map of England in 1532 and a ‘pourtraict de la ville de Londres’ in 1534 (destroyed) for Francis I of France, as well as the ‘John Raven born in Flanders’ who was granted denizenship in London in 1544.6

The present portrait was probably painted circa 1530, when Brandon was about 45 years old. He is depicted richly dressed in silk shirt, cloth of gold doublet and expensive fur lined cloak. In keeping with northern portraiture conventions his left hand rests on a parapet where the picture meets the base of the frame, thereby heightening the impression that he occupies three-dimensional space. The artist has combined strong directional lighting with a cool monochrome background typical of Netherlandish portraiture of the period. The shadows which line the left and upper edge of the panel create the pictorial illusion that they are cast by the frame itself, thus suggesting that the sitter is seen as if through an aperture.

Dendrochronology Report:  
Analysis of the tree-ring sequences of this panel has identified that the 2 boards of this panel were derived from different trees, both sourced from the eastern Baltic, which were still growing in 1486. A standard estimate for missing sapwood therefore indicates that these boards are likely to have been felled between circa 1494 and circa 1526. A full copy of the dendrochronology report by Ian Tyers is available upon request from the department and will be supplied to the buyer.

1. P. Ganz, op.cit.
2. The identification was questioned by Strong in 1969 (op.cit), however the presence of the medallion in the sitter’s hat, as well as the closeness of the physiognomy appear to be fairly conclusive. The identification was accepted by Ainsworth in 1998 and Suchtelen in 2012.
3. See M. Ainsworth, op.cit, p. 53, nt. 7.
4. See M. Ainsworth, op.cit, p. 37, and F. Lugt, Inventaire general des dessins des écoles du nord: Maîtres des anciens Pays-Bas nés avant 1550, Paris 1968, p. 20.
5. A. van Suchtelen, op.cit.
6. M. Edmond, Jan Rav, Grove Dictionary of Art (Oxford Art Online), 2007-2013.