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Title Portrait of Robert Devereux, the Second Earl of Essex
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to British School
Previously attributed to Geeraerts, Marcus, the younger (Flemish painter, 1561-1635, active in England)
Date Earliest about 1604
Date Latest about 1606
Description This portrait has been identified since the eighteenth century as Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, High Steward of Sutton Coldfield and favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. However, the portrait bears little resemblance to him and the costume may be dated to about 1605, four years after his execution. The subject wears a figured white doublet with a slight peascod belly and trunk hose with canions, left hand on a sword with blue velvet belt and baldric embroidered with gold thread. With fine lawn collar and cuffs, and a black gorget decorated with gilt bands of etched scrollwork. There is a matching close helmet with red and white plumes behind. He holds in his hand a lance inscribed:
He yt can this ebon Lawnce weilde/Shall have the same, & eke my shield
A pendant painting, supposedly of Queen Elizabeth hung with it at Drayton Manor.
Current Accession Number 1977P317
Former Accession Number P.31777
Inscription front (on lance) 'He yt can this ebon Lawnce weilde/Shall have the same, & eke my shield'
Subject portrait (Devereux, Robert, 2nd Earl of Essex (?))
Measurements 113.7 x 84.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (hardwood {oak})
Acquisition Details Given by the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield 1977.
Provenance Drayton Manor, Staffordshire; Charles Sacheverell Chadwick, Esq. of Newhall (1762); Mr Tonks, 1881 (?); Mrs Tonks, 1904.
Principal Exhibitions The Elizabethan Midlands, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, 1979, cat. no. 47.
Publications 'Incola',The Gentleman's Magazine, 1762, pp. 401-3; Riland Bedford, W. K., History of Sutton Coldfield, 1891, p. 24; Midgley, W., A Short History of the Town and Chase of Sutton Coldfield, 1904; Rev. Stebbing Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire, vol. II part I, 1781, p. 9; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983.
Notes Mr Tonks, Rookery House, Sutton Coldfield.

The attribution to Geerhaerts is not supported by Karen Hearn (2006). Furthermore, the subject does not resemble Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. The little fringe beard is wrong and this subject has a mole on his right cheek. Further research: Malden H. B., (ed) 'Devereux Papers', Camden Miscellany, vol 13, 1923, Royal Historical Society, Camden 3rd series, vol. 34, or early inventories of Drayton Manor. May be worth comparing the style of inscription to others by Geerhaerts the Younger.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth
 

 

 

 

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