Elizabeth Sidney, Connections 2

The Portrait of an Unknown Lady

Bob Sparham

Fig 5 Detail of A Lady Masquer in Ben Jonson's Masque of Hymenaei. John De Critz c1605 Right Portrait of an Unknown Lady c.1595 (Detail)

Fig 5 Detail of A Lady Masquer in Ben Jonson’s Masque of Hymenaei. John De Critz c1605 Right c.1595 (Detail)

Fig 6. Left The Woburn portrait, Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford. Right The Welbeck portrait, Called Lucy Harington

Fig 6. Left The Woburn portrait, Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford. Right The Welbeck portrait, Called Lucy Harington


It is I feel worth quoting at some length Hertford and Simpson’s argument for their identification of Elizabeth Manners, Countess of Rutland as the subject of the Welbeck portrait of the Hymenaei masquer because of its relevance to my subsequent discussion, as they wrote :-

“The Welbeck and the Woburn portraits have led to some confusion. Originally the Welbeck portrait was described as Lady Bedford owing to the superficial resemblance of the costume. But the faces of the two ladies are so unlike that this attribution is impossible.

The identity or the Lady in the Welbeck and Berkeley portraits is difficult to determine. In a passage of the Quarto text omitted in the Folio Jonson arranged the lady masquers thus:-

‘The names of the eight Ladies, as they were after orderd (to the most consipicuous shew) in their Daunces, by the rule of their statures ; were the:-

Countess. of MONGOMERY – Lady. KNOLLES



Countess. of BEDFORD – Countess. of RUTLAND

“John Pory, the newsmonger, sending an account of the masque to Sir Robert Cotton, says: ‘Above the globe of earth houered a middle region of cloudes in the center wherof stood a grand consort of musicians, and vpon the cantons or hornes sate the ladies 4 at one corner, and 4 at another, who decended vpon the stage’ Now the Welbeck lady is painted standing slightly to the right with her egret plume on the left side; Lady Bedford standing slightly to her left with the plume on the right side of her head. Evidently they were placed on either side of the Queen in the order that Jonson gives. The lady on the Queen’s left is one of two ladies in Jonson’s list. Either she is Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Hunsdon and wife of Sir Thomas Berkeley, son and heir of the seventh Lord Berkeley, who died in the lifetime of his father in 1611; or she is Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland, wife of Roger, the fifth earl. The Welbeck portrait was in the Wriothesley collection at Titchfield ; with the marriage of Lady Elizabeth Noel, great granddaughter of the fourth Earl of Southampton, to the first Duke of Portland in 1704, the Wriothesley collection passed to the Bentick family. Roger, fifth Earl of Rutland, was an intimate friend of the Earl of Southampton, who is thus a likely person to have had the portrait. The probability therefore is that it is a portrait of Lady Rutland, though in the absence of any authentic portrait of her this conjecture cannot be tested.” (4)

Herford and Simpson also point out that some of the costs of Elizabeth Manners’ costume and masquing for Jonson’s Masque of Hymenaei were recorded in the Historical Manuscripts Commission’s Rutland accounts these items included :- “On 20 September1605 there was paid to Holmeade, silkman, for masking ware, iijli viijs’,on 20 December £50 was ‘delivered for my Lady to Mr Bethell, the gentleman huisher for the maske’: on the 5 January 1606 a further payment of £30 to Mr Bethell; on 4 March £10 for ‘cutwork bought for my Lady, at the maske’: on 18 May £6 ‘to the tyre woman for a coronet’, £4 for ‘a payer of embrodred silke hose’, 30s. for a ruff, 13s. for a pair of shoes, in all £12.3s. ‘for the maske’.There was also a bill of £8 for her stopping with her attendants at Whitehall from 16 December 1605 to 8 January 1606, which shows when the rehearsals began; wine, bread, and beer cost £4. 6s. (5)


This page was added on 27/10/2014.

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