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Unknown artist, sixteenth century
formerly Steven van der Meulen, active 1543–died 1563, Netherlandish, active in Britain (from 1560), naturalized 1562

Katherine Knollys, née Carey (ca. 1523–1569)

Former Title(s):

Portrait of a Woman, probably Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys

A Portrait of a Woman, Probably Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys

Oil on panel
42 3/4 x 31 1/4 inches (108.6 x 79.4 cm)

Dated in yellow paint, upper right: "AETATIS SUAE 38 | AO DOM 1562"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
collar | costume | dog (animal) | portrait | precious metal | tassel | Tudor | woman
Associated People:
Knollys [née Carey], Katherine, Lady Knollys (ca. 1523–1569), courtier
On view in the galleries
IIIF Manifest:

As a Protestant, Lady Knollys (pronounced knowles) fled England during the reign of the Catholic monarch Mary I. Knollys returned from Germany after Elizabeth I’s accession in 1558. She was then appointed as a Lady of the Bedchamber — an official and influential position within the royal household, which gave her influence over access to the queen and, with that, political power. Here, she is shown at 38 years old and pregnant with her son Dudley. In her left hand she holds a pair of gloves. In her right hand is the gold chain of a girdle, which is strung around her waist and has a large enameled jewel at its end. A faithful dog stands by her side on a velvet covered table — one the earliest depictions of a pet in British art.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2021

Katherine Knollys (née Carey) was the daughter of Anne Boleyn’s sister, making her a first cousin of Elizabeth I. Katherine is shown pregnant with her son Dudley, one of the sixteen children she had with her husband, Francis Knollys (1511/12–1596). Having returned from exile in mainland Europe after Elizabeth I’s accession, Katherine was appointed as a Lady of the Bedchamber—an official and influential position within the royal household. This painting was previously attributed to the Flemish painter Steven van der Meulen (d. 1563), who arrived in England in around 1560. However, recent technical examination indicates that it was made by the same artist who painted a three-quarter-length portrait of Henry Fitzalan, twelfth earl of Arundel, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, which is inscribed with the date 1565, that is, two years after Van der Meulen’s death in 1563. The identity of the artist remains unknown.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys (probably 1524-1568/69) was Queen Elizabeth's first cousin (through the Queen's mother, Anne Boleyn). She was thirty-eight in 1562. One of Lady Knollys's (pronounced Knowles) grandsons was Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, the favorite of Queen Elizabeth.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 158-159, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ian Tyers, The tree-ring analysis of 23 panel paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , New Haven, dendrochronological consultancy report 470 , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2011, p. 13. 16. 39-41, fig.18, CC78.3 .T94 2011 [ORBIS]

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