Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (Bruges 1561-1635 London) Portrait of  Ellen Maurice, three-quarter-length, in a white lace ruff and white dress embellished with pearls
Lot 36
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
(Bruges 1561-1635 London)
Portrait of Ellen Maurice, three-quarter-length, in a white lace ruff and white dress embellished with pearls
£60,000 - 80,000
US$ 75,000 - 100,000

Lot Details
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (Bruges 1561-1635 London)
Portrait of Ellen Maurice, three-quarter-length, in a white lace ruff and white dress embellished with pearls
dated '1597' (upper left) and bears inscription 'Ellen Gd Daur & heir of/ Sir W. Maurice of Clennenny./ Wife of John Owen. & 2ly of/ Sir Francis Eure. She died 1626' (upper left)
oil on panel
90.6 x 74.2cm (35 11/16 x 29 3/16in).

Footnotes

  • Literature
    J. Steegman, A Survey of Portraits in Welsh Houses, Cardiff, 1957, vol. I, p. 70, no. 2 (under Portraits formerly at Brogyntyn)

    In terms of treatment and composition, the present portrait may be closely compared to Gheeraerts's 1600 portrait of Elizabeth Finch, Countess of Winchelsea in the collection of Lord Radnor at Longford Castle in Wiltshire. Both paintings demonstrate the attributes that made Gheeraedts the premier painter in the late-Elizabethan and early-Jacobean court: beautiful drawing, soft modelling and a skilful manipulation of paint to mimic the texture and properties of various surfaces and materials. The drawing, in particular of the sitter's left hand can also be directly compared to those in a portrait of a lady, oil on panel, 114 x 89 cm., sold at Sotheby's, 11 July 1984, lot 29, and a portrait of a lady, oil on panel, 44 x 32.5 cm. with Mark Weiss Gallery; as well as to the circa 1600 'Rainbow Portrait' of Elizabeth I at Hatfield House, which has been attributed to Gheeraerts. Perhaps the artist's most celebrated work is the 'Ditchley Portrait' of the Queen, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

    Ellin Maurice (1578-1626) was a prominent Welsh heiress who succeeded her grandfather, Sir William Maurice to the estates of Clenennau, Porkington, and Llanddyn. Sir William was from an old Caernarvonshire family which, in the course of the last century had accumulated the most extensive freehold estate in south Caernarvonshire, centred on the manor house of Clenennau (built circa 1550) and extending into Anglesey and Merioneth. William spent much of his life extending and consolidating this estate, a task involving him in constant litigation. His three marriages helped in the process, the first, to Margaret Wyn Laken (Lacon or Lake), bringing in the Shropshire estate of Porkington (now Brogyntyn) to which she was heiress. As well as deputy lieutenant, Maurice was sheriff of Caernarvonshire and as an M.P. for Anglesey he was a tireless debater. Ellin's father, William Wynn Maurice died in 1568 before his father, Sir William Maurice. Ellin married firstly John Owen, secretary to Elizabeth I's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham , and secondly Sir Francis Eure (who died in 1621), chief justice of North Wales. By her first husband she was the mother of three sons and five daughters. The three sons were Colonel Sir John Owen, Colonel Sir William Owen of Porkington, who defended Harlech castle for Charles I, and Maurice Owen, to whom his mother gave lands in Anglesey.

    Aged approximately 19 in Gheeraerts's depiction of her, this portrait most likely celebrated the wealthy young heiress's first marriage to John Owen and her consequent introduction to the magnificent court of her fellow-Welshwoman, 'Gloriana'. During the Elizabethan era, pearls were known as the 'Queen of gems' and it has been estimated that in today's market Ellin Maurice could be wearing the equivalent of a million pounds worth of jewellery.
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