Portrait of Mary Neville and Son Purchased by NPG

If I remember correctly, this portrait had been on loan to the gallery from the private owner for sometime, but now the gallery permanently owns it.

From the BBC:

Lady Dacre, and her son, Gregory Baron Dacre, by Hans Eworth, is described as “one of the finest works to be painted in Britain in the mid-16th century”.

The gallery paid just under


  1. There was a time when the picture was thought to represent Frances Brandon and her second husband, Adrian Stokes. It so perfectly fit in with the popular anecdotal portrait of the lady as a chip off Uncle Harry — brutal, corpulent, coarsely unintellectual, unmaternal, fond of huntin’ and unsuitably married in indecent haste after her husband’s execution to a much younger servant, a veritable Tudor boy toy — that it quite broke my heart when more recent cool-headed appraisals identified the painting’s subjects as Lady Dacre and her son.

    A lot of Tudorfic writers also based their characterizations of Frances on this portrait, too. When will we get a sympathetic book about the Duchess of Suffolk? Perhaps not until a sympathetic authenticated portrait of her turns up …

  2. I’m with you, Foose…forever the portrait of this woman represented Lady Jane Grey’s mother. Now my brain has to switch gears and try and find another representation whenever the Duchess of Suffolk is read about.

    Would like to know how the gallery came to their conclusion, altho most likely with jewelry and other symbols being worn. Perhaps the artist left detailed notes which left no doubt as to whom he was painting?

    As for a sympathetic book about the Duchess…seems to me I read, and immediately put down, a recent ‘hys’terical novel about Lady Jane as I was thoroughly disgusted with the way her mother was portrayed. It would be nice to see an unbiased biography of the Duchess, she sounds like such a fascinating woman. What an uncle she had! What a daughter! And was she really a bully??? Queen Mary I was fond of her, and Frances wasn’t a Catholic!

  3. I think this is why portrait attribution can be so fraught. I had one strong reaction to the painting when I thought it was Frances Brandon – “Look at the bloated monster lavishing indecent attentions on an unworthy stripling out for the main chance!” — and quite another when it was identified as Lady Dacre and her son — “What a nice painting of a proud mamma and her fine-looking son!” In each case my response was completely conditioned by what I thought about the subject.

  4. There is a good run-down of the re-identification in “Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630” ed. Karen Hearn (p. 68-69). The crux of the argument are the ages and year above the figures and comparison with another portrait of Mary Neville by Eworth. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to track down the cited article, but the summary in the book is pretty good. I’ll scan it to a PDF and post a link when I get a chance.

  5. The re-identification of the sitter as Lady Dacre rather than as Frances Brandon occurred when someone noticed (finally!) that the woman is absolutely identical in appearance to a woman in another solo portrait definitively identified as Lady Dacre. And that second portrait is unusual in that she is depicted with a portrait of her recently deceased husband hanging on the wall behind her. (see http://resplendentraiment.com/images/Lady_Dacre_1540.jpg)

    As for Frances Brandon, if my book on Jane Grey ever gets published, readers will find an assessment of Frances distinctly at odds with the accepted wisdom. There is insufficient evidence related to Frances for constructing a full biography, but I concluded from the evidence that I did find that she was not the domineering shrew usually depicted in biographies of Jane written in the post-Restoration period.

  6. Here’s a link to the PDF. Sorry that the file is a little large if anyone is on a dial-up connection. There is a small B&W version of the comparison portrait that PhD Historian linked to above, but the image at the link above is much better.


  7. Thanks, Lara! The article is most interesting, particular on Lady Dacre’s vicissitudes.

    Phd historian, I look forward more than ever to your book! A reevaluation of Frances Brandon is quite overdue.

    Tracey, I agree with you that the relationship between Mary and her cousin is intriguing. I think there might be a good book in exploring the first generation of Tudor cousins born in England, despite a disappointing lack of source material on some of them:

    Mary Tudor, born 1516
    Margaret Douglas, born 1515
    Henry Brandon, born 1516
    Frances Brandon, born 1517
    Eleanor Brandon, born 1519
    Henry Fitzroy, born 1519

    They were all about the same age and Mary, as Queen, seems to have been remarkably fond of the survivors (Frances and Margaret Douglas, as all the rest had died), even though Frances tried to steal her throne and Margaret Douglas was intriguingly chummy with Anne Boleyn. This suggests there may have been considerable intimacy among this group — possibly an “our gang” mentality — in their youth. Elizabeth and Edward, the “second generation,” may have felt excluded from the group and not shared this fondness; I don’t Elizabeth’s attitude to Frances, but she disliked her daughters and seems to have detested Margaret Douglas.

  8. Foose, your comments about ‘Tudor cousins” rang a bell with me, and off I rushed to my back shelf.

    “Tudor Cousins, Rivals for the Throne” by Dulcie M Ashdown was published in 2000. It follows the first generation, beginning in 1512, to the fourth which ends in 1603. Frances, Duchess of Suffolk, is featured amongst the pages…in fact, she figures in several pages 🙂

  9. To me the portrait is that of a noble woman and man being mother and son.
    I think that the man bears a resemblance to Henry stuart lord darnley so if it turns out to be true which I don’t know for a fact the woman must be his mother Margaret Douglas countess of lennox.

  10. TudorRose – If you’ve followed the other comments, you will see that the evidence is pretty good that the portrait is that of Mary Neville and her son.

  11. Tracey, thanks for remembering “Tudor Cousins.” I do remember this book, I’ll have to dig it out of the pile and revisit with it.

  12. PhD. Historian, I don’t know if you are interested or not, but the Brandons are my particular area of interest and I have some evidence (not wild speculation!) of what I think Mary Tudor died of and that it might have affected all of her children as Henry and Eleanor died very young, and though she seemed to have been the healthiest of the family, Frances only lived a few years longer than her mother.

    If you are interested, drop me an email at lamaryrose@yahoo.co.uk

    If there is any general interest in the question, I’ll be glad to post it all publicly, just let me know where the best place to do it is.

  13. Kathy, I am really intersted! Can you post online?

  14. Yes Kathy…please post on-line 🙂

    As to the personality of Frances of Suffolk…any person attempting to write a happy picture of her would have to get around her daughter’s own so-often quoted description of her home life….her sorrow at not being able to be perfect, the beatings she often received for the slightest infraction, etc.

    I’d say this pretty much puts the Duchess into a pit which history may find difficult to dig her out of….unless Lady Jane exaggerated?

    PhD Historian…how did you handle this quote in your book and what is your interpretation?

  15. Hello all,

    Let’s move the Frances Brandon, etc. part of the thread over to the Q&A blog. I’ll post a thread for it over there shortly. I’m really curious about Kathy’s info and everyone’s take on Frances too… she’s one of those people that I’ve only ever had a one-dimensional picture of and I’d like to know more.

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