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THE ART OF PAUL VAN SOMER, c. 1577-1622


Eric Roberts

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  • Eric Roberts changed the title to THE ART OF PAUL VAN SOMER, c. 1577-1622

Hi Eric,

What a lovely painting - the detailing on the costume is beautiful. What an incredibly strange pose though and quite rare I would have thought although I do recall another painting of the period of a male sitter that is similar. Do you recall who it was Eric?

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14 minutes ago, A Phoenix said:

Hi Eric,

What a lovely painting - the detailing on the costume is beautiful. What an incredibly strange pose though and quite rare I would have thought although I do recall another painting of the period of a male sitter that is similar. Do you recall who it was Eric?

Hi A Phoenix

Thank you for commenting. It's so unusual, isn't it? I love the darkened room behind her divan, but alas! The face has been badly "restored" by the look of it. The picture is owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County. They ought to have it X-rayed to see what's underneath the amateurish mask - hopefully, the real face of Elizabeth Drury. 

Your memory doesn't fail you. I think you may be thinking of Nicholas Hilliard's miniature of Henry Percy.  

https://thegardenstrust.blog/2020/11/21/the-wizard-earl-his-miniature-conundrum/

HilliardHenryPercy.jpeg.4dbef0eb8fed84cd83e98caca19d8249.jpeg

 

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8 hours ago, A Phoenix said:

What an incredibly strange pose though...

She died at 15 years old? Why did she die so young? Was this painting sharing a moment when maybe she could not stand yet was dressed up fine?

"Elizabeth Drury died in 1610 at the age of fifteen. The portrait was commissioned posthumously by her mother, Lady Anne Bacon Drury, Sir Nicholas Bacon’s granddaughter, and Francis Bacon’s niece."

I could Google it, but still finishing my day. 🙂

EDIT:

Here is a more recent version engraving:

https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw133757/Elizabeth-Drury?LinkID=mp89947&role=sit&rNo=0

image.png.84fe02f1c50adeadbbd38e4e90805a16.png

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9 minutes ago, Light-of-Truth said:

She died at 15 years old? Why did she die so young? Was this painting sharing a moment when maybe she could not stand yet was dressed up fine?

This is interesting (bold my emphasis):

http://www.newportalri.org/items/show/13484


Description
An oil on canvas portrait of Lady Elizabeth Drury (English, 1595-1610) painted by Dutch artist Paul van Somer (1576-1621). Lady Elizabeth is depicted reclining on a gilded Jacobean daybed, her right hand leaning against a white silk pillow and her left hand holding a black book. She wears a heavy gold embroidered red silk dress over a flowered silk blouse accented with red bows, and her stiff lace collar frames her pale white face. Her blondish-red hair is beneath a lace and silk veil. Dark draperies frame the interior scene in the background. Inscribed on the lower left with "Eliz: Daugther of Sr. Robt. Drury Died 1610 Aged 15" and the lower right with "Her pure and eloquent blood / spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought / That one might almost say her body thought. - Upon the untimely death of Mistress Elizabeth Drury / by Doctor John Donne Dean of St. Paul's School London."

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9 hours ago, Eric Roberts said:

Your memory doesn't fail you. I think you may be thinking of Nicholas Hilliard's miniature of Henry Percy.  

https://thegardenstrust.blog/2020/11/21/the-wizard-earl-his-miniature-conundrum/

 

Maybe 20 years ago a Baconian lady who used to email with me was convinced this was a painting of young Bacon. I haven't heard from her in many years, but I still see Bacon. There was another one like this where he was standing by a tree with reddish hair.

image.png.066dd7074b12297a6ca31c8e6437188d.png

EDIT:

The image below is the main one Genevieve was so sure was Francis Bacon. I'm not as sure if she thought the Henry Percy above was Bacon, but I am very sure the one below was Bacon to her. I don't remember anybody else making that claim, but it stuck with me enough to be curious.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholas_Hilliard_-_A_Youth_Leaning_Against_a_Tree_Among_Roses_-_WGA11424.jpg

image.png.3c4dc279bb328c7d42bf21dbc35311c7.png

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1 hour ago, Light-of-Truth said:

Maybe 20 years ago a Baconian lady who used to email with me was convinced this was a painting of young Bacon. I haven't heard from her in many years, but I still see Bacon. There was another one like this where he was standing by a tree with reddish hair.

image.png.066dd7074b12297a6ca31c8e6437188d.png

EDIT:

The image below is the main one Genevieve was so sure was Francis Bacon. I'm not as sure if she thought the Henry Percy above was Bacon, but I am very sure the one below was Bacon to her. I don't remember anybody else making that claim, but it stuck with me enough to be curious.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholas_Hilliard_-_A_Youth_Leaning_Against_a_Tree_Among_Roses_-_WGA11424.jpg

image.png.3c4dc279bb328c7d42bf21dbc35311c7.png

 

The portrait of a young man leaning against a tree is conventionally thought to be an early portrait by Hilliard of Francis Bacon's biological brother, Robert Devereux.

Here is another miniature by Hilliard of the Earl of Essex. Looks to me like the same person.

ScreenShot2023-12-03at11_21_54am.png.1bfec8c1df78a2f1685256586d9bec2d.png

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholas_Hilliard_-_A_Youth_Leaning_Against_a_Tree_Among_Roses_-_WGA11424.jpg

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/89747/robert-devereux-2nd-earl-essex-1565-1601-statesman-and-courtier

 

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Oh my! Eric, did you read this link in the link you shared? My first time through it sounded to me like this is a miniature of Shakespeare (Bacon).

https://www.shafe.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/07-The-Secrets-of-Tudor-Art.pdf

I see Bacon's hat, his "book", and those so very rare "cheveril gloves" that some goofball I've seen in video claims is proof Willy wrote Shakespeare! LOL

image.png.0155704ab30fa8154c7d16ab194bf564.png

image.png.4c0f3f1ae434a63b7de799217ea30720.png

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4 minutes ago, Eric Roberts said:

The portrait of a young man leaning against a tree is conventionally thought to be an early portrait by Hilliard of Francis Bacon's biological brother, Robert Devereux.

Here is another miniature by Hilliard of the Earl of Essex. Looks to me like the same person.

I agree, looks like R.D.

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Really beautiful portraits Eric. Van Somer is certainly a master of eyes and lace and like you say would seem to have been at the summit of his career in this period. The dress and drapes in the Larkin are also exquisite - you almost feel like you could touch them. Diana Cecil was the great grandaughter of William Cecil Lord Burghley, Francis Bacon's uncle.   Van Somer and Larkin were obviously favoured artists of the Cecil and Bacon families. Great share - thank you!♥️

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5 hours ago, A Phoenix said:

Really beautiful portraits Eric. Van Somer is certainly a master of eyes and lace and like you say would seem to have been at the summit of his career in this period. The dress and drapes in the Larkin are also exquisite - you almost feel like you could touch them. Diana Cecil was the great grandaughter of William Cecil Lord Burghley, Francis Bacon's uncle.   Van Somer and Larkin were obviously favoured artists of the Cecil and Bacon families. Great share - thank you!♥️

Hi A Phoenix

Glad you're enjoying diving into van Somer's portraits. I'm only imagining, but I suspect that Anne Cecil may have asked van Somer for a more intimate picture of herself than the awe-inspiring power portrait painted by William Larkin several years earlier. She certainly looks happier in the van Somer picture!

Researching this portrait was like wandering into a dark forest only to discover I was lost. The intricate kinship connections between the main players during SFB's lifetime leaves me mostly baffled. If there isn't one already, there is a need for a "who's who map" clearly labelling and hot linking prominent figures associated with SFB. How is Elizabeth Hatton, nee Cecil, related to Anne Cecil, for instance?

Signed, "Baffled".

Edited by Eric Roberts
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4 minutes ago, Eric Roberts said:

If there isn't one already, there is a need for a "who's who map" clearly labelling and hot linking prominent figures associated with SFB.

I'm not sure how up to date the owner keeps this, but it is interesting.

http://www.sixdegreesoffrancisbacon.com/?ids=10000473&min_confidence=60&type=network

image.png.9c332a77f065488630fa130f86b5f74a.png

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7 minutes ago, Light-of-Truth said:

I'm not sure how up to date the owner keeps this, but it is interesting.

http://www.sixdegreesoffrancisbacon.com/?ids=10000473&min_confidence=60&type=network

image.png.9c332a77f065488630fa130f86b5f74a.png

Hi Light-of-Truth. Just the thing! Thanks so much for the reference. Hopefully, this will help save me from making embarrassing historical mistakes.

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2 minutes ago, Eric Roberts said:

Hi Light-of-Truth. Just the thing! Thanks so much for the reference. Hopefully, this will help save me from making embarrassing historical mistakes.

I believe the Six Degrees of Francis Bacon can be edited by anyone who signs up. So as interesting as it is, I wouldn't count on it to not have historical mistakes. 😉

 

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On 12/4/2023 at 11:30 PM, Eric Roberts said:

Hi A Phoenix

Glad you're enjoying diving into van Somer's portraits. I'm only imagining, but I suspect that Anne Cecil may have asked van Somer for a more intimate picture of herself than the awe-inspiring power portrait painted by William Larkin several years earlier. She certainly looks happier in the van Somer picture!

Researching this portrait was like wandering into a dark forest only to discover I was lost. The intricate kinship connections between the main players during SFB's lifetime leaves me mostly baffled. If there isn't one already, there is a need for a "who's who map" clearly labelling and hot linking prominent figures associated with SFB. How is Elizabeth Hatton, nee Cecil, related to Anne Cecil, for instance?

Signed, "Baffled".

Dear Baffled Down Under😄

We're all baffled - it's life - but here's my take on things.

I presume in the above you mean Diana Cecil who the Larkin and van Somer portraits represent. I agree the genealogy can be very confusing especially when many had the same name and also they were often known by their title name, i.e., William Cecil was Lord Burghley, etc.

I agree with you, whilst sumptuous, the Larkin portrait shows Diana Cecil rather ill at ease whereas van Somer captures her more naturally. I expect portraits are very much down to external factors as well. Costume, environment, and also interestingly the painter themselves and the rapport and ease with which they might make the sitter feel happy/comfortable. A bit I suppose like a photographer today, some you just don’t click with (no pun intended) and others bring out the best in people.

Just some brief facts. The lady in the portraits Diana Cecil was great granddaughter to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (Francis Bacon’s uncle). Our Elizabeth Hatton (Francis Bacon’s friend and 2nd cousin) was Diana’s Auntie because she was sister to Diana’s father. So in effect Diana was Francis Bacon’s 3rd cousin.

You mentioned an Anne Cecil (1556-1588). This one was daughter to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (Francis Bacon’s uncle and so Anne Cecil was Francis Bacon’s first cousin). The unfortunate girl aged 15 married Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford who by most accounts treated her appallingly. They had grown up together as Oxford was a ward of William Cecil. They largely led separate lives and Oxford, without foundation, accused her of adultery and for many years wouldn’t acknowledge his first child. She died aged 31 of unknown causes leaving her father William Cecil, Lord Burghley grief stricken. So de Vere was married to Francis Bacon’s 1st cousin Anne thus I suppose by marriage de Vere could have been classed as Francis Bacon’s cousin, although one can only speculate how the Cecils and Bacons felt towards the ungrateful, dissolute and cruel Earl of Oxford. Any suggestion that someone like Francis Bacon could be a ‘friend’ of someone like de Vere seems remote and unlikely.

Like you suggest, a friends and family ‘map’ of FB would be a very useful future project!

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Eric,

Just did a bit of digging. Larkin also did another portrait of Anne Cecil. (NOT the Anne Cecil mentioned above) This Anne Cecil was apparently Diana's twin sister and she also had her portrait painted by Larkin c. 1615. Because she was the twin sister of Diana, the above familial relationships apply, Twin sisters Diana and Anne Cecil were Bacon's 3rd cousins.  https://images.historicenglandservices.org.uk/fine-art/kenwood-house-paintings/larkin-anne-cecil-j920336-559009.html

larkin-anne-cecil-j920336-559009.jpg.webp

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2 hours ago, A Phoenix said:

Dear Baffled Down Under😄

We're all baffled - it's life - but here's my take on things.

I presume in the above you mean Diana Cecil who the Larkin and van Somer portraits represent. I agree the genealogy can be very confusing especially when many had the same name and also they were often known by their title name, i.e., William Cecil was Lord Burghley, etc.

I agree with you, whilst sumptuous, the Larkin portrait shows Diana Cecil rather ill at ease whereas van Somer captures her more naturally. I expect portraits are very much down to external factors as well. Costume, environment, and also interestingly the painter themselves and the rapport and ease with which they might make the sitter feel happy/comfortable. A bit I suppose like a photographer today, some you just don’t click with (no pun intended) and others bring out the best in people.

Just some brief facts. The lady in the portraits Diana Cecil was great granddaughter to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (Francis Bacon’s uncle). Our Elizabeth Hatton (Francis Bacon’s friend and 2nd cousin) was Diana’s Auntie because she was sister to Diana’s father. So in effect Diana was Francis Bacon’s 3rd cousin.

You mentioned an Anne Cecil (1556-1588). This one was daughter to William Cecil, Lord Burghley (Francis Bacon’s uncle and so Anne Cecil was Francis Bacon’s first cousin). The unfortunate girl aged 15 married Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford who by most accounts treated her appallingly. They had grown up together as Oxford was a ward of William Cecil. They largely led separate lives and Oxford, without foundation, accused her of adultery and for many years wouldn’t acknowledge his first child. She died aged 31 of unknown causes leaving her father William Cecil, Lord Burghley grief stricken. So de Vere was married to Francis Bacon’s 1st cousin Anne thus I suppose by marriage de Vere could have been classed as Francis Bacon’s cousin, although one can only speculate how the Cecils and Bacons felt towards the ungrateful, dissolute and cruel Earl of Oxford. Any suggestion that someone like Francis Bacon could be a ‘friend’ of someone like de Vere seems remote and unlikely.

Like you suggest, a friends and family ‘map’ of FB would be a very useful future project!

Hi A Phoenix

Thanks so much for clarifying the relationship between Diana and Elizabeth (Hatton) Cecil. I honestly don't know how you keep it all inside your head. The six degrees of Bacon site Rob mentioned is great, except there is no information, just names.  / Re: Bacon & Oxford, I read recently that when he was hit with the £40,000 fine, SFB wrote to the Earl of Oxford to ask for financial assistance. This shows, I think, how desperate he must have been.  /  Re: the relationship between artist and sitter. Van Somer must have had a charismatic personality and the tact of a diplomat in order to elicit from the High and Mighty their personal preferences in terms of how they wished to be portrayed. On the other hand, William Larkin seems to have imposed his style on his sitters to a much greater degree. 

 

Edited by Eric Roberts
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1 hour ago, A Phoenix said:

Eric,

Just did a bit of digging. Larkin also did another portrait of Anne Cecil. (NOT the Anne Cecil mentioned above) This Anne Cecil was apparently Diana's twin sister and she also had her portrait painted by Larkin c. 1615. Because she was the twin sister of Diana, the above familial relationships apply, Twin sisters Diana and Anne Cecil were Bacon's 3rd cousins.  https://images.historicenglandservices.org.uk/fine-art/kenwood-house-paintings/larkin-anne-cecil-j920336-559009.html

 

larkin-anne-cecil-j920336-559009.jpg.webp

 

Thanks A.P. How unique... twin pictures of twins! 

ScreenShot2023-12-06at9_27_13pm.png.585c4ed8be136556109dc23f46812eb1.png

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Hi Eric,

Thank you - nothing much is kept in the head though it usually involves ODNB and scribbling down family trees to try and make sense of things. re: FB and Oxford. I presume by the £40,000 fine you mean the fine that was given to Bacon after his fall in 1621. If this is the case, Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford was long dead by then (dying in 1604) so it wouldn't have been Edward that FB petitioned.  His son by his second marriage to Elizabeth Trentham Henry de Vere (1593-1625) however was alive and it is to him that he petitions.

The letter Francis Bacon to the Earl of Oxford 2nd February 1624 is held at the Lambeth Palace Library MS 936, art. 194.

See Spedding, Letters and Life, VII, pp. 454-55 and Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart, Hostage to Fortune The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon (London: Victor Gollancz, 1998) p. 494 which I have reproduced below:

 

OX1.jpg

OX2.jpg

OX3.jpg

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