An Unknown Woman in a Dress embroidered with Strawberries, possibly Lady Elzabeth Cecil, Countess of Berkshire (1596-1672)
manner of Cornelius Johnson (London 1593 - Utrecht 1661)
Oil painting on panel (once split in three; mended with rows of cross-pieces and ruddled), An Unknown Woman in a Dress embroidered with Strawberries, possibly Lady Elizabeth Cecil, Countess of Berkshire (1596-1672), manner of Cornelius Johnson (London 1593 - Utrecht 1661). A head-and-shoulders portrait, turned slightly right, looking out at us. She wears a black dress with bands of gilt and pearl ornament, whose chief motif is a disjointed circle interwoven with an x-shaped cross; stems with four ears of corn-like features extend from the circles of these within the bands, and pearly tendrils and gilt tendrils each with a single wild strawberry, extend out from them. She has a circular lace over a circular lawn collar, a pearl and white – flowered wreath on the back of her head, a large pearl ear-ring, and two chains of pearls and diamonds with gold links. Her hair and eyes are dark brown.
Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Trust, 2011. It has not been possible, thus far, to distinguish this picture from the numerous portraits of ‘A Lady’ and ‘family portraits’ listed in the 1879 and 1929 inventories, but it may have been part of the hang in the Drawing Room or the Bright Gallery, many of the smaller 17th century portraits being gathered in those spaces. The absence of any of the inscriptions found on other pictures at Lyme suggest that it is not a Lyme heirloom, but may have been introduced by the Hon. Helen Meysey-Thompson (m.1914, d. 1958), wife of Richard, 3rd Lord Newton (1888–1960); by descent to Richard, 5th Newton (b.1950), and his brother, the Hon. David Legh (b. 1951); accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust, 2011.
Lyme Park, The Legh Collection (accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust, 2011)
Marks and inscriptions
Back of panel: on a small serrated label printed in green: 8622 Back of frame: label: C.JANSEN
Makers and roles
manner of Cornelius Johnson (London 1593 - Utrecht 1661), artist