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Mary, Lady Guildford

Hans Holbein the Younger, German, 1497/98–1543
Oil on panel
Place made
England, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 238
34 1/4 x 27 13/16 in. (87 x 70.6 cm)
framed: 46 1/4 x 40 x 3 1/4 in. (117.5 x 101.6 x 8.3 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
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Object Number
Henry Guildford was Comptroller under King Henry VIII. This splendid portrait of his wife, Mary Wooten, is among the most impressive of Hans Holbein the Younger's English paintings. Holbein excelled in verisimilitude, creating his precisely drawn countenances and richly detailed costumes with an economy of paint. This portrait is one of a pair that presented husband and wife. Hung with gold chains and embellished with pearls, Lady Guildford embodies worldly prosperity, and with her prayer book she is also the very image of propriety. Although a preparatory drawing for this painting, now in the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland, shows a winsome charmer who glances off to the side, Holbein changed the direction of his sitter's gaze to suggest a more mature woman. The background ivy may have been intended as an emblem of steadfastness.
scribed as, "Of the La: Guilfourd wife to Sir Henry Guilfourd Coumptroller, drawne by Haunce Holbyn." This is most likely the Saint Louis Art Museum's picture although before the Museum picture reappeared, it was often assumed that this referred to the copy at the Met [Cust, Sir Lionel. "The Lumley Inventories." "Walpole Society." 6 (1917-1918)].

John Lumley was married to Jane FitzAlan (d.1577), daughter of 12th Earl of Arundel, Henry FitzAlan Arundel (1512-80). The Earl of Arundel had purchased Henry VIII's Nonsuch Palace from Queen Mary in 1556 and Lumley inherited it in 1580. It is possible that this picture was part of the FitzAlan collection inherited by John Lumley [Hervey, Mary F. S. "The Life, Correspondence, & Collections of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel." Cambridge: 1921, p. 52-59].

[2] According to Mary Hervey's book, the picture was with the contents of Tower Hill, the residence of Lord Lumley, which was inherited by Lord Lumley's second wife, Elizabeth Darcy. Elizabeth Darcy died in 1617 and her will specified that all her pictures were to go to her brother, Thomas, Lord Darcy, and then to his daughter, Elizabeth, Lady Savage, after his death. Lord Darcy died in 1639, at which time the paintings would have passed on to his daughter [Hervey, p. 57]. There is no conclusive evidence that this picture actually took this route. There is evidence that Lord Darcy allowed at least some pictures to be given to Lord Arundel [Howarth, David. "Lord Arundel and his Circle." New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985, p. 69].

[3] Thomas Howard's 1641 will contains an inventory of his collection. There is a reference to "Two pictures, the one a yong Man at large, leaning upon his sword, the other of a Girle" [Cust, Lionel. "Notes on the Collection Formed by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel." "Burlington Magazine." 20 no. 104 (November 1911), p. 98]. It is possible that this refers to the SLAM picture and its companion. Listed in the "Inventory of pictures, etc.
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