The Tudor Society

Special Article from Melanie Taylor

katherine_greyEnjoy this special article written by Melanie V. Taylor, author of "The Truth of the Line", who runs and is an art historian. Melanie is a regular contributor to the Tudor Society's Tudor Life magazine.

This report is entitled "Who painted Lady Katherine Grey and her son Edward?", and is a fascinating insight into Tudor art and how even today it can be difficult to attribute an artist to a portrait.

Melanie Taylor SPECIAL ARTICLE - Who painted Lady Katherine Grey and her son Edward


There are 29 comments Go To Comment

  1. P

    Melanie V.Taylor’s article is very poor quality. She appears to have a weak knowledge of Tudor history. Catherine’s husband was Earl of Hertford, son of the !st. Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector, brother of Jane Seymour and uncle of Edward VI.. The duke was NOT executed in 1549. She fails to explain the importance of Catherine which was basic to Elizabeth I’s views on the marriage.
    I should add that describing people as ‘authors’ when they self-publish is misleading in that it gives authority to their work when it has not peer read. I include Conor Byrne in this category.
    David Loades

    1. C

      Professor Loades,
      Thank you so much for spotting Melanie’s mistake with the execution date, it’s easy to make an error with names and dates, and this has been corrected in the article. However, she has not made a mistake in who Katherine was married to.

      Melanie is an author and she is also an art historian and teacher. She did a Masters dissertation on Levina Teerlinc. She teaches art history courses and does regular talks in the UK. She does have authority.

      Conor Byrne is an author. He is also a history student who is a wonderful new voice in history. He had the full support of his university’s history department in his work on Katherine.

      Many authors are choosing to self-publish or to publish with small independent publishers because it makes sense in this day and age. Advances are few and far between, royalties are low and self-publishing gives authors control.

  2. V

    Boy! Everyone makes mistakes. I know that Professor Loades’ Tudors for Dummies books had Anne Boleyn being executed on 17 May 1536 and his The Boleyns book also had errors. Nobody is perfect but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have authority.

    1. C

      Yes, I don’t know the amount of times I’ve managed to put “VII” instead of “VIII” and in mine and Clare Cherry’s recent biography of George Boleyn we’d put Thomas Howard in the introduction instead of Henry Howard. Luckily, we were able to correct this quite quickly.

      It is easy to make a mistake with dates and names when your head is so full of them. Let’s not list mistakes authors have made.

  3. M

    Professor Loades, thank you for taking the time to read the article on the portraits of Katherine Grey and her son. When I was studying, your books were essential reading and will, no doubt, continue to inform students for many years to come.

    However, your comment suggests you were expecting a discussion regarding Katherine’s relevance to the succession, Elizabeth in particular, and not a short piece regarding the artistic attribution of the paintings themselves. From the title I believe it is apparent that I am addressing the art history of these specific portraits, not the sitter. Tudor buffs know the history of the Grey girls, but not specifically that of the paintings and more specifically this miniature and the larger copies.

    That there are several large versions is of interest to me. Who painted them, why were they painted? To have a panel painting of someone who had a legitimate claim to the throne on public display may well have been considered treasonous, thus inviting censure of worse. This begs the question of when the panel versions were painted. Were these painted during the 16th century and then one is transferred to canvas at a later date? If so, why? Is one of them a much later copy? Are there any more copies in existence and if so, where?

    Some of these questions can be answered by scientific analysis of the wood and non-invasive spectography of the pigments (as seen on Fake or Fortune with Philip Mould and Dr Bendor Grosvenor). Dendrochronology may have already been done on the panel painting and I am awaiting to hear if this is so. The Audley End version is the subject of study at the moment and I am looking forward to hearing what the conclusion is regarding attribution and dating of this painting, which is on canvas. All of these aspects will be addressed at a later date.

    The 16th century is when portraits become political and diplomatic tools; they were not painted to be purely decorative. It is a shame that modern audiences have lost the ability, or do not have the classical education, to understand and appreciate the relevance of the Latin mottoes or the symbolism and allegories contained in many of the Tudor panel paintings and miniature portraits.

    1. C

      Thank you for the kind words, Melanie. I love the translation that George did for Anne. And you’re right that the illustrations are beautiful. I would have loved to have seen them when they were new. But then anything to do with GB makes me go all warm and fuzzy………I really need to get out more!

      1. C

        Oops, this should have gone on Melanie’s comment below.

  4. L

    What about an apology from the professor?
    An Author broadly speaking is someone who writes a book, a document or article. It does not have to be published even; It was authored.
    I am led to understand that the Prof has himself made errors in the past and if indeed the identity of her spouse is the person named by Melanie then he has erred again.
    I enjoy all history and find the Tudors fascinating; I do not have an academic interest, to me it is relaxing entertainment, but it would be good to know that those who do purport to have the authority to be able to educate us in a subject that they claim expertise in, have got it right.

  5. L

    I am sure the larger painting is a 17th copy of which there are several, along with portraits of Lady Jane Grey. I suspect they were commissioned by Katherine Grey’s grandson, William Seymour (later Duke of Somerset): his widow mentions pictures of Jane and Katherine in her will (author The Sisters Who Would be Queen, the Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey) .

    1. M

      Thank you, Leanda. I’ve passed on your comment to a student currently finishing her MA dissertation on the version (on canvas) at Audley End House, Cambridge. It will be much appreciated.

      Your research demonstrates how important it is for art historians to research documents such as wills and inventories for references to paintings and other art treasures. A bit like looking for a needle in a haystack!

  6. D

    I have read and enjoyed some of the esteemed Pro. Loades books, and have just purchased Mary Tudor,The Tragical history of the first Queen of England, and I am shocked! I think the above comments by David Loades to be harsh and judgemental, if not pompous. Comments such as are very undermining to young new writers, who should be encouraged not disparaged by archaic thinking.

    1. D

      Sorry Melanie, I forgot to say thank you that was interesting, there is so much that an ‘untrained’ eye such as mine misses when looking at paintings. It is very intriguing all the symbolism and hidden meanings included in portraiture, such as the apple etc. they tell many stories/secrets.

      1. M

        Dawn, the subtlety of the symbolism evolved from the bestiaries (which are reference books for symbols to be used in medieval illuminated manuscripts) used by the medieval Catholic illuminators. There are several in the British Library and they can be accessed online through the BL website. There are also loads of medieval blogs out there that carry images from The Luttrell Psalter with its wonderful grotesques in the margin and various other important Psalters and Books of Hours of the medieval period.

        More importantly, you can view the digitised versions of illuminated manuscripts that would have been pertinent to Henry VIII, online. For instance Harley MS 6561is the Readings from the Gospels & Epistles that George Boleyn translated from the original French by Jacques d’Etaples for his sister Anne. The illuminations are damaged, but are still beautiful. The BL images are free of known copyright restrictions because the digitised images are made under a Creative Commons License, which is a wonderful teaching tool because images can be expensive.

        Harley 6561 is interesting because it straddles the medieval illuminating tradition and the beginning of the Reformation. The symbolism in the margins of the full page illuminations is muted and is more obvious in the heraldry. The dedication from George : ‘Her moost lovyng and fryndely brother sendeth gretyng’ is wonderful. Knowing their fate, their obvious closeness shown by this dedication is enough to make the hardest cynic shed a tear, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing. Do read’s publication on George Boleyn. Claire Ridway and Claire Cherry make a wonderful team and have brought George from relative obscurity into the limelight.

        Prof. Loades’s book on Mary is an important historical insight into the tragic life of the first queen regnant of the English modern period. Enjoy.

  7. S

    I am constantly surprised by people being overly judgmental. We all make mistakes, even in our chosen areas of interest. I have found that rather than harshly pointing out errors, it is much more effective – not to mention polite – to gently ask if the author realized the mistake had occurred; most often they are grateful for the error being pointed out. There is no need to make harsh statements. It seems to me that Prof. Loades made his own mistake in not checking credentials before speaking out. I will not make comment on his sentence structure.

  8. M

    I thoroughly found this article insightful and interesting. I would love to read more on Teerlinc, if someone could recommend books on her life and works it would greatly be appreciated.

    1. M

      Mary, I am currently working on the prequel to my novel, The Truth of the Line, which will be Teerlinc’s story. She is a fascinating individual because she is hidden by the mists of time. I have shelves of research on her as she was the subject of my Master’s dissertation. There is virtually nothing written about her except for snippets in various catalogues and books on other limners such as Hilliard. Watch this space!

  9. M

    Thanks Melanie I will look forward to reading it. Let me know when it’s published.

  10. M

    Mary, The Truth of the Line is published by and I hope they will publish the prequel too. Levina appears in The Truth of the Line in her role of limner to the Queen. It is generally accepted that she taught Nicholas Hilliard how to paint and TOTL is his story of how he comes to be Elizabeth I’s portrait painter ‘in little’. I believe he could not have done it without her and I worked from the original documents, the various State Papers, BL documents regarding the trial and execution of Mary Queen of Scots and lots of miniature portraits. Rummaging around in wills, royal accounts, the Coram Rege rolls and a lot more. Archive searching of all sorts is like being a detective and all the characters and events in TOTL happened. There is only one completely fictional character, who is minor and never speaks, but there must have been lots of individuals willing to be couriers in the price was right, be it monetary or religious.

    If you are in the UK, and can get to the National Portrait Gallery, Queen Mary I’s prayer book is in their current free exhibition about the Tudor Kings & Queens. This is thought to have been created by Teerlinc as a very specific request by Mary I when she was reinstating the Good Friday Crampe Ring service. I have photographs of the whole book and despite what Roy Strong says about the execution of the illuminations being weak, I think it is a lovely example of what Mary may have asked Teerlinc to produce. Of course, it is also possible that another completely anonymous limner produced it and it may well have come from the brush of a religious artist. With no written records of the various commissions, it is impossible to state exactly who painted what. Identification of the artist is all done on style; non invasive analysis of pigment may suggest various workshops. So you can see why any definitive attribution is completely subjective.

    Having said all that, we do know payments were made to Jean Mallard( shown in the Royal Accounts between 1538-40). This provides strong evidence for Henry VIII commissioning this Frenchman to paint his Psalter, now in the British Library. Type in the BL reference Royal MS 2A XVI into Manuscript search and you can see the whole document, or you can click the following link (or cut and paste it into the bit at the top of the page where it says https:// and press enter) . This will show you some of the Psalter illuminations and the ageing Henry VIII portrayed as King David. The detailed entry will also tell you a bit about the artist, Jean Mallard.


    1. A - Post Author

      Hi Melanie,
      I think we can safely say that MadeGlobal will be interested in publishing your next book 🙂

  11. B

    The following is the definitions of the word “author” as provided by Oxford Dictionaries.

    Noun: A writer of a book, article or report.

    Verb: 1. To be the author of a piece of writing.
    2. An originator or creator of something, especially a plan or idea.

    There is no clarification of whether traditional publication is mandated to define a person as an author. In fact, before the modern era, many brilliant writers of literature were not traditionally published authors.

    In reading the comments of Professor Loades, I am wondering if he means “historian” when he states the word “author”. This is my impression due to his opinions regarding peer review prior to publication. (I am stating no opinion on “What is a historian?” I am just reading the opinion and making that conclusion.)

    Obviously, peer review is not an expectation of all “authors”. After all, many authors write literature not non-fiction history articles. One can write about topics of history without being a historian. I do so all the time, and I am clearly NOT a historian, nor do I have any illusions of such.

    Although I sympathize with the point of view that anyone really can self-publish anything they want, the “cream always rises to the top”, whether a work is traditionally published or self-published. A poorly written or researched work will not gain an audience. Heavens, even a typo will be scrutinized.

    I know very little about art history, so I enjoyed the article very much. I also enjoyed Leanda’s thoughts.

    Professor Loades, if you read this message, I enjoyed your Thomas Cromwell biography.

    1. M

      Beth, thank you for your lovely clarification. I too have studied Prof. Loades’s work, which has made a huge contribution to our understanding of Tudor history.

      My article was never going to address anything other than who may have painted this image (which is still being copied as a miniature by anonymous artists and offered for sale!) and pose questions as to who commissioned the larger portraits. These were not by the same hand as the miniature and I do not think either are by Teerlinc. The attribution was made by Roy Strong years ago and has never been challenged publicly. I have passed Leanda’s comments on to an MA student who is in the process of writing up her dissertation as she has been studying the larger panel versions of this exquisite miniature at Audley House.

      I studied for my Master’s in Medieval & Early Modern Studies at University of Kent under Dr Alixe Bovey who supervised my dissertation on Teerlinc. If you saw the TV series on The Goff Map, it was Dr Bovey who used the map to navigate her way round England – quite a feat since it is a medieval map. Kent is a great place to study as we have access to the Cathedral archives all the time.

      Professor Loades and his wife have their own publishing company. Does this constitute self-publishing if you are an already accepted academic? I don’t know. It is a legal nicety that can be argued by lawyers, who will no doubt say that self-publishing constitutes using something like Amazon’s Create Space,
      or Smashwords etc. The wonder of the internet means you can have your own legal entity in the form of a company and by-pass the publishing companies. However, for some of us, it is wonderful to have a publisher and for me, to be one of MadeGlobal’s authors.

      We are all part of history and we all have our roles within the play of life. I believe that makes us all qualified to have an opinion. It just depends on what area of history you choose to study as to whether you have a voice that will be listened too. It would be wrong for anyone to dismiss images from any period as they provide valuable visual evidence. How else would we know about the interiors of Flemish houses if it were not for pieces such as the Merode Altarpiece by Roger Campin (I hope this link will take you there). If not, then cut and paste the address into the line at the top of your browser.

      If you read the commentary underneath the image, the author states that because of the snow that can been seen falling through the window behind Joseph that this is clearly winter and perhaps should be better described as a Nativity. Perhaps this author is not aware of the March weather in Northern Europe and how it can be spring (as seen in the flowers behind the figures in the left hand wing) one minute and then the next, a cold front will bring a snap snow storm. Campin (aka The Master of Flemalle possibly) clearly knew his March weather and the Feast of the Annunciation is, of course, celebrated in March. Since the artist was painting this for the Merode family who lived in the Burgundian Netherlands, the painter has created an image that his patrons would recognise as part of their everyday existence – including the vagaries of the March weather.

      I’ve read the professor’s book on Mary I whose insight into the personality of this tragic princess is brilliant. Enjoy Cromwell – another fascinating character.

  12. M

    Bother! the link doesn’t work. If you go to the bottom of this page you will see the alphabet. Click on C, then scroll down nearly to the bottom and click on Campin Roger (The Master of Flemalle) and then you will get a list of links. Click on The Merode Altarpiece and there are images of the whole work and detailed images, plus comments if you click the square with the ! in it. It is a lovely distraction for a Friday morning.
    The tiny image of the infant Christ sliding down the gold beams from heaven always makes me think of that song/poem, Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam.

  13. B

    Melanie, I hope I didn’t offend you in any way with my response. My response was solely addressing professor Loades’ comments related to the thought that only “peer reviewed” material should be published, and only “peer reviewed” writers can be referred to as an author. His commentary stated a blanket opinion including you, Conor Byrne and any self-published writer. I was speaking globally. No commentary was directed towards you whether direct or implied.

    You are quite obviously very highly accomplished. I pray you didn’t think I inferred in any way otherwise.

    Above you state, “We are all part of history and we all have our roles within the play of life. I believe that makes us all qualified to have an opinion.” Bravo! I agree wholeheartedly.

    1. C

      This is not aimed at anyone in particular, I’d just like to clarify that neither Conor or Melanie are self-published, not that I think that matters one jot these days as more and more authors are leaving traditional publishers and going it alone. People are not self-publishing because they can’t get traditionally published (well, some are), they are choosing to because it often makes more sense. Speaking from experience, and I turned down a traditional publishing contract and an agent, writing for a big publisher just doesn’t give writers the benefits it once did – they don’t always use copy editors, you’re expected to provide your own illustrations, advances are small or non-existent, some expect you to do your own indexing, royalties are small, print runs can be small, your book can go out of print, you sometimes don’t get any say over the cover and blurb etc etc. You get control and choice by self-publishing or going with smaller independent presses. I did find Professor Loades’ comments about self-publishing odd because he and his wife own Davenant Press and he publishes his own books through them, as well as companies like Amberley.

      Also, whatever criteria you use to describe a “historian”, Melanie is a historian. She is a trained art historian, so I don’t know what Professor Loades was referring to at all and I think it was a case of him jumping the gun and not looking into Mell’s qualifications before he commented, which is a shame. Also, Mell’s book is fiction, not non-fiction, so shouldn’t require peer review from academics. Phew, I hope that clarifies things.

      I too have enjoyed Professor Loades’ work, my favourite is his biography of Mary I – brilliant!

    2. M

      Beth, you certainly didn’t offend at all. I hope you’ve read Claire’s comments below. She is a great voice for all of us and such a lovely person.

      The publishing world is changing fast and technology makes it so much easier for everyone to write that book that each of us have in us (can’t remember who said that). My only thought is, will the technology – such as Kindle, Tablet etc – stand the test of time and be as durable as parchment or vellum! I’m currently looking at some Norman documents (online) and are in Harvard Law School library. Where would the modern researcher be without this technological ability and a huge thanks to those anonymous people who have scanned all those wonderful documents in these libraries.

      Thank you Claire for your words and also a big thank you to both you and Tim for everything you do with the AB Files, Tudor Society and MadeGlobal. Now everyone can enjoy the fascinating world of the Tudors from every aspect.

  14. B

    Thank you Claire and Melanie for the clarification! Yes, of course, not being “traditionally published” by one of the Big 5 does NOT necessarily equate to self-publishing. Using Conor as the example, his book was obviously not self-published. Duuuuuuuuuuuuh!! I am wacking myself in the head over that one.

    I do agree there was “knee jerk” responding there, no question. Not speaking of Professor Loades specifically, as I have heard this repeatedly of Ph.D level historians in a variety of forums, many have a difficult time wrapping their hands around the thought that there are people who write historical articles and books that do not follow the typical path they are used to. I understand the thinking as there are some people out there advertising themselves as academic historians who clearly are not. Melanie is obviously high accomplished and is clearly a historian. I was not intending to start a debate “What is a historian?” I merely went there because I believe Professor Loades did.

    The information you are sharing about publishing options out there Claire is just outstanding. The whole industry is highly confusing, and it is extremely difficult for an author to break in. The issues you raise leave me with the conclusion, why bother? As a writer of short fictional and non-fiction works, If I am not going to make any money at it, I’ll just use the internet. It’s free for me and the browser. Done deal. 🙂

    Also, I agree with Melanie… Claire and Tim, huge respect and admiration go to both of you for everything you do!! Heavens, you two are quite the team!

  15. M

    Beth, don’t give up on the writing! Publish and be damned!!! (Wasn’t it Wellington who said that?) Amazon’s CreateSpace is brilliant – but I hope you already know that and use it. It is such hard work writing, (but it is even harder work promoting your work.)

  16. B

    Thanks Melanie… I haven’t given up. I just publish to the internet as a willful choice… simple enough. For me personally, I don’t see the point of using a service like CreateSpace . I do agree it’s a great service. I don’t have the time or energy to publish a book completely on my own — and then market it 100% on my own. When it is no longer fun to do, it just is no longer a productive exercise for me. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  17. Q

    Just wanted to say that the painting is beautiful and the image of Catherine Grey and her young son is very moving. What I know about art history is that you put lovely paintings on the wall and admire them, so having someone like Melanie Taylor be able to explain the symbols and so on is wonderful. I can probably spot a Holbein, but to identify true images of historical people from nearly 500 years ago is a real skill, and not just about looking at the likeness; it involves knowing what sort of pigments and materials the artist uses to mix his paints; his style, his era, his use of images in the background and the quality of the paints, and so on. It is about authenticity and identity from what we know of the person and the subject; it is a very difficult and long process and I know, because my husband did art history, it takes a lot of dedication, hard work and research; sometimes it can take years to find a true image of someone that can no longer be questioned. Art historians bring to us the people lost to history; find for us the people that have been dismissed when a known painting is thrown into doubt, and identify unknown paintings by giving them a name. I understand that historians like Professor Loades may not give authority to younger authors or new authors, that is often because they have become experts in their own field and have forgotten that they had struggles when they began. I admire his work very much, but believe it is unfair to dismiss someone just because of an error in the printing or advanced views. I would encourage any student with the desire and passion to write to attempt to get resources and support to do so; to publish if they are able in magazines, journals, local publications, university press articles, and to produce if they get the opportunity and help, papers from their dissertation. In my own field, when going for jobs within the academic world I was asked time and time again, do you have a publication portfolio, as if they expected me to have published in peer reviewed journals as a student on a regular basis, forgetting that this is a rare experience until you get into the field and are given opportunities for academic papers. My husband was given such resources and did have the fortune to do this; but most students struggle in this area. I would encourage them to not give up; if you want to gain experience, work with sources, do research; keep attempting to find support; there is always someone who will give you that helping hand; grab it and do not give up on your dreams. Again, the article is very informative and I have enjoyed reading it.


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Special Article from Melanie Taylor