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Elizabeth Cornwallis, Mrs Edward Allen (d. 1708), as Diana the Huntress

Jacob Huysmans (Antwerp c.1630 – London 1696)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1662 (artist in England) - 1696

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

1275 x 1025 mm

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire, Midlands, National Trust

NT 494922

Caption

This exuberant portrait was painted by a Flemish artist who came to England in 1662. Huysmans was patronised by the Catholic queen Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705), the wife of King Charles II, and her circle. He often painted court ladies as Diana, the virgin Roman goddess of the hunt and the moon, complete with her greyhounds, Syrius and Phocion, quiver, animal skin and a hunting spear. It reinforced the notion of the sitters’ beauty, purity and chaste virtue. The star-studded collar on the dog in the foreground is also possibly a reference to the Virgin Mary who is seen with a crown of stars in depictions of the Immaculate Conception which was a popular Catholic religious image in the seventeenth century. Elizabeth Cornwallis was the mother of Elizabeth Allen who married Edward Dryden, nephew of the Poet Laureate, Sir John Dryden.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Elizabeth Cornwallis, Mrs Edward Allen (d. 1708), as Diana the Huntress by Jacob Huysmans (Antwerp c.1630 – London 1696). A three-quarter-length portrait of a young woman, wearing a blue dress with red wrap and leopard skin sash. Elaborate red and blue feather head dress. Accompanied by greyhounds, the one in the foreground with star studded collar and holding a hunting spear which refer to the virgin Roman goddess of the hunt and of the moon, and therefore night time, and reinforcing the notion of beauty, purity and chaste virtue of the sitter. It is also a reference to the Virgin Mary who is seen with a crown of stars in depictions of the Immaculate Conception which was a popular Catholic religious image. The Flemish artist came to England in 1662 and was patronised by the catholic queen Catherine of Braganza, the wife of King Charles II, and her circle. She is in a similar pose to that of a portrait by Huysmans in Tate Britain, London (T00901).

Provenance

On loan as part of the Dryden Discretionary Settlement

Makers and roles

Jacob Huysmans (Antwerp c.1630 – London 1696), artist attributed to John Michael Wright (London 1617 - London 1694), artist

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