Searching for a Portrait of Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine-Days Queen’ of 1553

YouTube logo

All of our lectures are live streamed and are open to anyone to join us online, Fellows and Non-Fellows.

To view any of our past lectures please visit our YouTube channel.

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.
Event Series Event Series: Lunchtime Lectures

Searching for a Portrait of Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine-Days Queen’ of 1553

April 4 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Searching for a Portrait of Jane Grey Dudley, England’s ‘Nine-Days Queen’ of 1553

by Dr J. Stephan Edwards

Jane Grey Dudley, known to history as ‘the nine-days queen’ of 1553, is unique among English monarchs of the past 550 years in that no authentic portrait of her is known to have survived. We do nonetheless know that such a likeness was painted and was documented in 1560 in the collection of Jane’s friend Bess of Hardwick at Hardwick Hall, where it remained until at least the end of the eighteenth century. That portrait is now presumed lost, however. Seeking to fill the visual gap, dozens of other images from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been put forward at various times as likenesses of Jane. This extensively illustrated lecture examines some of the better-known ersatz images and uncovers the likely or actual identity of many of the sitters depicted. Particular attention will be devoted to an image formerly in the collections of the American financier John Pierpont Morgan and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art with identification until the 1950s as a portrait of Jane Grey by François Clouet. That image, known as the Berry Hill Portrait owing to having last been held by Berry Hill Galleries of New York, vanished into an unknown private collection in 1961. But the portrait briefly re-emerged at auction in November 2021 with an initial identification as Mary, Queen of Scots. In a feat of modern internet crowdsourcing, numerous people spotted the auction lot online, recognized it as the ‘lost’ Berry Hill Portrait, and immediately alerted me of its re-emergence. The private buyer very kindly granted me access to the painting following their purchase and funded several scientific and technical studies as well as a full restoration and conservation effort. The results of those studies will be discussed, though the evidence is regrettably inconclusive for definitively identifying the sitter. The candidates are limited to just two royal women, however. The most likely identification, in my opinion, is Jane’s younger sister Katherine Grey as she appeared circa 1558-1561, during which time she was heir-presumptive to Queen Elizabeth I. But it is also quite possible that the portrait is the first ad vivum portrait of Elizabeth herself following her accession and can be dated very narrowly to late 1558 or very early 1559. In the absence of definitive evidence, I will argue that the portrait should properly be labeled, pending discovery of definitive evidence to resolve the difference, as “Unknown lady circa 1558-1562, likely either Katherine Grey or Elizabeth Tudor.”

This event will be both in person at Burlington House and online. Please select the appropriate ticket below.

Attendance at Burlington House:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows, Affiliates and General Public.
  • Places in person will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The event will begin at 13.00 BST. Please arrive in plenty of time.
  • Registration is essential.

Attendance by Live Stream:

  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows, Affiliates and General Public.
  • The event will be live-streamed to YouTube here
  • The event will begin at 13.00 BST.
  • You will receive an email reminder with the link to join the day before the lecture.

Please help the Society continue to deliver our FREE online Lecture Programme by making a donation to cover the cost of upgraded IT and software. We would really appreciate your support. Thank you! 

If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected]

Get tickets online


April 4
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm