Robert Peake c.1551–1619
Lady Anne Pope
Oil on panel
571 x 445 mm
Inscribed: ‘1615’ in top right spandrel; on verso, ‘The Lady Anne | Pope | sister to Sr. | Will Pope | and Sr. Thomas | Pope’
Presented anonymously in memory of Francis Howard 1955
Wroxton Abbey, Oxfordshire; Wroxton Abbey sale, conducted by E.H. Tipping, Oxford, 24 May 1933 (674); Francis Howard; sold Christie’s, 25 November 1955 (72).
The Elizabethan Image, Tate Gallery, London 1969, no.114.
Tate Gallery Report 1955–6, p.16 (as by Marcus Gheeraerts); Roy Strong, The English Icon, London 1969, p.239, reproduced no.210, and p.347
The sitter is identified by the inscription on the back of the painting. The date, 1615, was uncovered when the work was cleaned in 1969. Lady Anne Pope, who died unmarried on 13 July 1629, was the daughter of Sir William Pope, 1st Earl of Downe (1573–1631) and his wife Anne Hopton who were married in 1595. She is thought to have been born in c.1599. Sir William was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of James I in 1603, and became a baronet in June 1611; in 1628 he was raised to the peerage of Ireland, as Baron of Belturbet and Earl of Downe.1 He marked his rising status by rebuilding Wroxton Abbey. He also had a spectacular alabaster canopied monument, with black marble columns, erected for his wife and himself in All Saints Church, Wroxton. The sculptured figures of the couple lie horizontally with, at their feet, the kneeling figure of their daughter Anne holding a book.2
Painted within a feigned oval, Lady Anne is richly attired, in a jacket embroidered with carnations, roses and strawberries. These can all be interpreted as symbols of love. She wears expensive lace at her neck and wrist, and strings of pearls that are symbolic of purity, but also signify her high status. Her long hair is unbound – a sign of virginity – and she is framed by the branch of a cherry-tree in fruit. Cherries were considered to be the fruit of Paradise, and thus a reward of virtue. With her fashionably pale complexion, Lady Anne gazes out at the viewer with modest directness, one hand against her breast, which emphasises her large and costly pearls. The whole work adds up to a presentation of this young woman as a potential bride.
The painting was in the same family collection, at Wroxton Abbey, as the portrait of the sitter’s sister-in-law Elizabeth Pope (Tate T00067). Both are by the same hand, which has been identified as that of Robert Peake, by comparison with such documented works as his 1613 full-length image of the future Charles I as Duke of York (University of Cambridge).3 The engraver George Vertue (1684–1756) visited Wroxton, the seat of Lord North and Guildford – into whose family it had passed by marriage in 1672 – in 1741 and listed a few of the portraits there; he did not however, include, the present work.4
Peake came from a Lincolnshire family and, like other British artists of the period, initially trained as a goldsmith. He was apprenticed in London in 1565, and first worked as a decorative painter for the court of Elizabeth I in 1576. Following the accession of James I, Peake was appointed Serjeant Painter to the monarch in 1607. He shared this office with another artist who also made royal portraits, John de Critz (c.1552–1642). The two men were neighbours in the London parish of St Sepulchre, and it is possible that they also shared a studio.5 Peake became the official painter to Henry, Prince of Wales, James I’s art-interested heir who died in his teens in 1612. In 1611, Peake commissioned a translation of Sebastiano Serlio’s The Firste Booke of Architecture, which he dedicated to the Prince.