Cathy Terry, Senior Curator of Social History for Norfolk Museums Service, sheds some light on the history of the tudor artwork that inspired my latest (still unfinished) composition:
Elizabeth D’Oyley aged 16, c 1608
The details of Elizabeth’s life are sketchy but from Kathy Lynn Emerson’s comprehensive study A Who’s Who of Tudor Women we learn that she was the daughter of Edmund D’Oyley of Shottisham, Norfolk and Catherine Neville (b.1570). In 1607 or 1608, she married Robert Buxton of Tibenham. A year or so later the couple had one child, a son, John (c.1609-1660). Robert died young on January 17, 1610/11 and John’s wardship was granted to Elizabeth and her father. Elizabeth’s second husband was William Perte of Mountnessing, Essex. By his first wife, Isabel Conyers, he already had a daughter, Margaret (c.1610-1686), but he had no children with Elizabeth D’Oyley. The inscription (added later) on the portrait by Robert Peake c.1608, is misleading. It seems to identify the Elizabeth d’Oyley as a Conyers co-heiress and the mother of Margaret Buxton. In fact, it is Margaret Perte, Elizabeth’s stepdaughter, who was the co-heiress. Margaret Perte became Margaret Buxton by her marriage to Elizabeth’s son, John. Portraits of both hang at Strangers’ Hall.
If we had to choose one painting to represent ‘beauty’ from our collections, Elizabeth d’Oyley would be our first choice. Painted at the age of sixteen, this young women on the threshold of womanhood was either newly married or about to be married, and her fragile beauty shines out. Queen Elizabeth I cultivated her own iconic style in her portraits and English representations of female beauty of the age all pay tribute to it. Her influence lasted well into the early Jacobean period and is seen in the volume and stiffness of the silhouette, and the predominance of jewelled decoration. The queen’s pale features and reddish hair had been widely imitated by members of the upper classes for several decades and the influence is still visible in Elizabeth d’Oyley’s portrayal by Robert Peake. In this formal, three quarter portrait she wears a deep red gown in expensive silk or velvet damask.
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