Tudor Mystery: A Master Painter Revealed at Compton Verney
Inspired by Compton Verney Gallery’s striking portrait of Sir Thomas Knyvett (c.1569), ‘Tudor Mystery: A Master Painter Revealed’ is the world’s first exhibition devoted to an important, talented – but almost completely forgotten – painter at the court of Elizabeth I.
Although the artist’s name has been lost, his recognisable approach to capturing a sitter’s likeness inspired the renowned art historian, Sir Roy Strong, to coin the moniker the ‘Master of the Countess of Warwick’ – after the portrait of Anne Russell, Countess of Warwick (c.1569) at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.
Strong initially identified eight portraits in his seminal book The English Icon (1969) as by the hand of the mysterious portraitist, but that number has subsequently grown to almost fifty, with the portrait in Compton Verney’s British Portraits collection now also attributed to the Master of the Countess of Warwick.
It is now believed that the ‘Master’ painted around fifty surviving pictures, which share a number of characteristics, including confident draftsmanship, the distinctive angle of the sitter’s head, sequential and careful paint layering on the face, plus close attention to the details of clothing and jewellery. These tantalising clues and further research in the decades since the publication of The English Icon have coalesced into an intriguing suggestion as to who he really was.
The exhibition will include a full public programme of talks and events, an exhibition catalogue with contributions from Dr Amy Orrock and Dr Edward Town FRSA (Head of Collections Information and Access and Assistant Curator for Early Modern Art at the Yale Center for British Art).
The exhibition’s web page can be found here.