From the Times Online:
Is this Mary Tudor, England’s Catholic queen who has gone down in schoolroom history as Bloody Mary?
If it is, as some scholars believe, the painting could make a virtuous circle to delight the heart of a Home Counties Jesuit parish priest. “It could be a small miracle,” says Canon Timothy Russ. And the secrets it contains could also bear new witness to the torrid religious politics of the mid-16th century.
Canon Russ is prepared to sell the painting he inherited in order to rescue Sawston Hall, near Cambridge, the 16th-century home of the recusant Huddleston family, and turn it into a Catholic heritage centre and refuge.
This year it was seen by Dr Tarnya Cooper, 16th-century curator at the National Portrait Gallery. “We concluded that while it is undoubtedly a very interesting and important painting, it cannot represent Mary I mainly because of facial dissimilarity with other authentic portraits of her. It is more likely to be a member of the nobility, possibly from within Princess Mary’s circle,” she said.
Sir Roy Strong, former director of the NPG and an authority on Tudor portraiture, is a patron of the charity set up to save Sawston. He said he has never been convinced that the portrait is of Mary, “and I have seen nothing to change my mind. The mid-16th century was a very dark time and it is extremely difficult to be certain.” But Professor Jack Scarisbrick, the Tudor and Catholic scholar, says it is too grand a portrait to be of anyone but royalty. “There was nobody outside the royal family important enough for such a lavish full-length painting — and if it is isn’t Mary, who is it? Nobody else fits the bill,” he said.
So convinced is Linda Porter, the author of a recent biography of Mary Tudor, of the sitter that she used the image on the cover of her book. “I’m certain it’s Mary,” she said. “It was quite fashionable in the last decades of the 20th century to question the identity of sitters in several well-known Tudor portraits, but some of this scepticism has now come full circle — the portrait of Katherine Howard that was questioned at this period is now thought to, indeed, be her. My own view is that family traditions are very often reliable. Plus which, to me at least, it looks like her.”