Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Lady Kytson by George Gower, 1573 England, Tate Britain
Elizabeth Cornwallis, Lady Kytson (c.1547-1628) married Sir Thomas Kytson (1541-1603), of Hengrave Hall in Suffolk in 1560. Of their three children, a son John died in infancy in 1562. Their elder daughter Margaret married Sir Charles Cavendish of Welbeck in 1582, but died in childbirth the same year. In 1583 their younger daughter - and sole heiress - married Thomas Darcy, later Earl Rivers, but separated from him in 1594.
In the present portrait, Lady Kytson wears the bright colours that had then just come into fashion, notably her red gown with its high-status fur collar. Her sleeves, beneath gauze oversleeves, are embroidered in black thread with roses, honeysuckle and carnations. She is probably dressed for outdoors, as she is wearing, rather than carrying, her gloves, as well as a tall, masculine hat with a jewelled band and linen undercap. The exact shape of this hat was only revealed when the painting was cleaned in 1995.
A payment in Kytson’s surviving accounts for 1573 indicates that this portrait, and its companion image of Sir Thomas Kytson (Tate N06090) were painted in London by George Gower (Cambridge University Library: Hengrave Papers 82 (3); cited in John Gage, The History and Antiquities of Hengrave, London 1822, p.40). The Kytsons had a town house in Coleman Street, in the City of London.
These are the earliest extant works by Gower and, together with his Self-portrait of 1579 (private collection; see Dynasties, cat. no. 57), form a nucleus upon which further attributions to him have been based.
Nothing is known of Gower’s training but he was descended from a Yorkshire gentry family. In 1581 he was appointed Serjeant Painter to Queen Elizabeth, the premier royal post for an artist, but one whose duties generally involved the control of applied and decorative painting for the monarch. In 1584 a patent was drafted that would have granted Gower the monopoly of all painted and engraved portraits of the Queen (while allowing another painter, Nicholas Hilliard, the monopoly of her portraits in miniature) but it is not clear whether this was ever enacted. Nevertheless, Gower seem to have been one of the most fashionable portraitists of the 1570s-1580s.
Portrait of Louise de Lorraine-Vaudémont by François Clouet, ca 1570 France, MFA Houston
I’ve been wanting to post this for quite a while but I haven’t because I’ve been looking for a larger image. There doesn’t seem to be one.
Maria Christina of Austria by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, 1577, Kunsthistorisches Museum
Portrait of Pace Rivola Spini by Giovanni Battista Moroni, 1570 Italy
Ensemble worn postmortem by Giulio Feltrio della Rovere, 1578
IMHO men’s clothing from before the mid-18th century was fugly, but the fact that we have this entire outfit today is amazing.
Bianca Capello De Medici by Alessandro Allori, ca 1570-87
Vizard, late 16th century (?) England, Portable Antiquities Scheme
Elizabethan women sometimes wore silk or velvet masks when outside to keep their skin that pink and white.
Oh, and just in case the first shot wasn’t already giving you nightmares:
Costume bodice worn by Marie de Medici, 1575-1600 Spain (worn in Paris), MFA Boston
I’m not really sure what they mean by “costume” since Marie de Medici lived in this era. Maybe it’s a fancy dress piece?
Costume drawing of court dress from the time of Henri III of France (1573-1575), published 1891, Mesdames nous aicules: dix siecles d’elegances