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15 NOV, 2010

Tudor Portraits in the United States

Posted By Hope Walker

In February, 2005 Sir Roy Strong published an essay in the journal of the Institute for Historical Research, Historical Research: 'Forgotten Faces: Regional History and Regional Portraiture.'[1] In his essay Strong highlights the "breaking up of local (portrait) collections and the widespread demolition of country houses" in England and, as a result, the subsequent loss of many regional portraits. For some time now I have been interested in such pictures--pictures that have been lost but are, in some cases, hidden in plain sight. And as Strong notes, many of these pictures were sold through small private galleries and in some cases ended up in the Americas (2).

One good example is the portrait of Lady Eleanor Savage in the collection of Louisiana State University, discussed elsewhere on this website. Eleanor's portrait was sold out of the Witham collection at Sutton Place, Surrey, sometime after 1910 by a now defunct British gallery. How it came to be in the Witham collection, or indeed any of it's past history prior to 1910, remains a mystery. Yet, without dedicated archival research and a great deal of luck, even these small tidbits of provenance would have been lost to time and it is likely that Eleanor's portrait would have remained devoid of its history and identity for many years to come.

Ultimately the goal of my research into Tudor portraits in the Americas is to further what can be known of such pictures and their histories. In addition to the portrait of Eleanor Savage, in working on this list I have uncovered several other important Tudor-era portraits hiding in plain sight in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas. My hope is that, as the list continues to develop, more 'forgotten faces' will appear. I intend to continue to work--time permitting--on such portraits, particularly those for which there is little known and eventually plan to publish this list as supplemental to a larger essay on Tudor portraits in the Americas. The list provided here is presented is in draft form and I expect that, as further pictures appear, I will post updates on the site blog.

Finally, I should note that in developing the list I have surveyed more than 220 public institutions across the United States and its territories and have received the support of countless individuals and institutions. To the curators, galleries, and museums that have contributed to the list I extend my sincere thanks for their generosity and support.

Download the list by clicking here.

Please note that the list is in .pdf format. Should you have difficulty in downloading the list, please contact me and I will send it to you in another form.

I would be pleased to hear from those who have found the list useful or have found errors or omissions. Please use the contact form or the comment section, below, to get in touch with me at your convenience.

[1] Roy Strong, 'Forgotten Faces: Regional History and Regional Portraiture,' in Historical Research, vol. 78, no. 199, February 2005, pp. 43-57.

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