Dulwich Picture Gallery II


Netherlandish School DPG396

DPG396 – Portrait of Anna of Saxony, Countess of Nassau (1544–77)

Late 16th century?; oak panel, 105.4 x 78.1 cm

Cartwright Bequest, 1686 (no. 96, £5, ‘Ye Duchiss of Suffouck on a bourd in a white goun Imbrothred with pearls in an ould fashiand frame, To ye knee’).

Lysons 1792–6, i, p. 109; Sparkes & Carver 1890, p. 9, no. 3 (Duchess of Suffolk, probably Frances Brandon, d. 1559); Richter & Sparkes 1892, pp. 112–13, no. 396 (no artist’s name or country mentioned); Richter & Sparkes 1905, pp. 112–13; Cook 1914, p. 232 (Artist unknown); Cook 1926, p. 216 (Artist unknown); Cat. 1953, p. 45 (Unknown); Murray 1980a, p. 302 (British School); Beresford 1998, p. 279 (British School; Portrait of a Woman, called the Duchess of Suffolk); Spies 2005, pp. 244, 246 (fig. 5), 248 (identification as Anna of Saxony); Bergvelt & Jonker 2016, p. 320 (Flemish School after Anthonis Mor?); RKD, no. 173333: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/173333 (Jan. 24, 2017).

London 1987–8, pp. 24, 29, no. 2 (R. Jeffree; Anglo-Flemish school, mid-16th century).

The appearance and condition of this painting are very poor. The panel is composed of four vertical members. The joins are separating. There are seriously raised blisters in the paint surface and many flaked paint losses, some with mismatched old restoration. The varnish is considerably discoloured and dark. The surface is covered with dust. Previous recorded treatment: 1914, cracked: repaired and varnished by Holder; 1961, blisters reported to Dr Hell.

most likely after Antonio Moro
Portrait of Anna of Saxony (1544-1577), Countess of Nassau, 1561-1599
panel, oil paint 105,4 x 78,1 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG396

attributed to Abraham de Bruyn most likely after Balthasar Jenichen
William of Orange (1533-1584), c. 1550-1570
paper, etching and engraving 181 x 113 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-OB-86.370

attributed to Abraham de Bruyn most likely after Antonio Moro
Anna of Saxony (1544-1577), c. 1560-1570
paper, etching and engraving 185 x 112 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-1894-A-18585

1a) Abraham de Bruyn (attributed to), Portrait of Anna of Saxony, inscribed Anna van Sassen gravinne tot nasou…, c. 1566, etching and engraving, 185 x 112 mm. Rijksprentenkabinet, RM, RP-P-1894-A-18585 [1].1
1b) Abraham de Bruyn (attributed to), Portrait of Willem of Orange, inscribed WILHELMUS VAN GODES GHENADEN PRINCE VAN ORAEN/Gien […], c. 1568, etching and engraving, 181 x 113 mm. Rijksprentenkabinet, RM, RP-P-OB-86.370 [2].2
2) Circle of Antonio Moro (formerly called a copy after Frans Pourbus), Portrait of Anna of Saxony, inscribed ‘LA PRICESE [sic] D’ORANGE’, c. 1560–74, panel, 47.8 x 35.2 cm. Muzeum Narodowe, Wroclaw, VIII-72 0 [3].3
3) Circle of Lucas de Heere (1534–84), Portrait of a Girl, panel, 89 x 80.6 cm. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Ont., gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader 1986, 29-005 [4].4
4) Attributed to the school of Antonis Mor, Mary Beaton, panel, c. 111 x 82.5 cm. Kenwood House, London, 88019201 [5].5

The new identification of the sitter as Anna of Saxony (1544–77) is based on comparison with a print by Abraham de Bruyn (1538/40–87) which is inscribed ‘Anna van Sassen gravinne tot nasou…’ (Anna of Saxony, Countess of Nassau) (Related works, no. 1a) [1].6 Another print shows its pendant, a portrait of her husband, William of Orange, Stadholder of the Netherlands (1533–84; Related works, no. 1b) [2].7 William the Silent was the leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years’ War, which resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648 (Peace of Westphalia). The prints by De Bruyn were probably made after paintings by Moro or his circle, painted c. 1566, but the relationship between the print, the original painting by Moro, and the Dulwich picture is not clear. The dress and jewellery in the print, for instance, are different from those seen here.

A portrait in Poland (Related works, no. 2) [3] depicts what is unquestionably the woman in the Dulwich picture, with same physiognomy, dress and jewellery. Its inscription, ‘LA PRICESE [sic] D’ORANGE’, confirms her identity. Willem and Anna of Saxony were married from 1561 until their divorce in 1571; the latter date would be a terminus ante quem, which is not inconsistent with the apparent age of the sitter.8

Antonio Moro (Utrecht, between 1516 and 1521–Antwerp, between 17 April 1576 and 12 May 1577),9 also known as Anthonis Mor (van Dashorst), was a Northern Netherlandish, later South Netherlandish, portrait painter, who worked for European royalty, nobility and members of the higher bourgeoisie during his whole career. After several royal commissions abroad he worked from 1555 in the Netherlands, where he painted portraits of Willem van Oranje and Willem’s first wife, Anna van Buren (1533–58; see below). In 1559 Moro was back in the South, this time in Spain. He returned to Utrecht in 1560, where he stayed until 1567. From that year until his death in 1576/77 he worked in Antwerp. Considering the fact that Moro had also painted the previous couple (William of Orange and Anna van Buren), it is not implausible that Moro also immortalized the couple of William and Anna of Saxony. Moro was available in the Netherlands between 1561 and 1571, the years the last couple was married. In addition, the portrait of Anna of Saxony in Poland is nowadays attributed to Circle of Antonio Moro (see also below for the pictures in Mantua). In all likelihood, Moro painted the originals of the two portraits of William of Orange and Anna of Saxony, but which unfortunately have been lost.

The former identification of the sitter as the Duchess of Suffolk was based on the text in the Cartwright inventory. It has not been possible to connect it with a portrait of a duchess of Suffolk or of any other British lady of rank.10

DPG396 was formerly ascribed to the Anglo-Flemish School, or to a Netherlandish artist.11 The previous association of the picture in Poland with Frans Pourbus I (1545/6–81) is unconvincing. The similarity to a group of portraits after Antonio Moro, originally dating from the mid-1550s, is far greater. The Dulwich picture has much in common with some portraits in Mantua from this group, though those are of higher quality; they are part of a series of beauties, one of whom is Anna van Buren (1533–58), the first wife of William of Orange.12 Just as Anna van Buren’s portrait was paired with a portrait of William (by Antonio Moro and workshop) now in Kassel,13 the Dulwich picture was probably paired with a portrait of William when he was Anna of Saxony’s husband, perhaps similar to the image in the print by De Bruyn, where he is shown as an older man than in the Kassel portrait, with a beard.

Were it in good condition, DPG396 might look like the portrait of Mary Beaton (1543–98) attributed to the school of Anthonis Mor at Kenwood House (Related works, no. 4) [5]. Probably by the same hand is a portrait of a girl in Kingston, Ont., there not very convincingly attributed to circle of Lucas de Heere (1534–84) (Related works, no. 3) [4].

Diana Scarisbrick analysed the jewellery of this lady of high rank and suggested that actual pieces were portrayed.14 The carcanet (a jewelled necklace or collar) and ‘matching bilament trimming hood and girdle’ were very fashionable from the 1540s onwards. The bracelets might have been a wedding present, but while the date of her marriage, 1561, makes that possible, it is known that she inherited a great deal of jewellery from her mother: might that be what is depicted?15

most likely after Antonio Moro
Portrait of Anna van Saksen, princes of Oranje (1544-1577), after c. 1560
panel, oil paint 47,8 x 35,2 cm
Wrocław, Muzeum Narodowe we Wroclawiu, inv./cat.nr. 720

circle of Lucas de Heere
Portrait of a Girl, c. 1565
panel, oil paint 89 x 80,6 cm
Kingston (Ontario), public collection Agnes Etherington Art Centre Queen's University, inv./cat.nr. 29-005

attributed to Antonio Moro
Portrait of Mary Beaton, c. 1550-1570
panel, oil paint 111 x 82,5 cm
Hampstead (London), Kenwood House (The Iveagh Bequest), inv./cat.nr. 88019201


1 Spies 2005, pp. 240–43, fig. 3. The illustration is taken from Nassauische Annalen 54 (1934), pl. III; Horst 2013, pp. 22–3, fig. 13; Mielke & Luijten 2017, i, pp. 108–9, no. 152; see RKD, no. 236170: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/236170 (Jan. 24, 2017); see also http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.382965 (Feb. 18, 2020).

2 Spies 2005, pp. 240–42, fig. 2. The illustration is taken from Nassauische Annalen 54 (1934), pl. III; Horst 2013, pp. 22–3, fig. 12; Mielke & Luijten 2017, i, pp. 106–7, no. 151; see RKD, no. 296830: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/296830 (Feb. 18, 2020); see also http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.508868 (Feb. 18, 2010).

3 RKD, no. 55273: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/55273 (Dec. 6, 2019); cover of Deen 2018; Spies 2005, pp. 242, 245 (fig. 4). See also Schacht & Meiner 1999, p. 25, cat. I/11 (‘Anthonis Mor van Dashorst, Umkreis; Breslau, Muzeum Narodowe, no. VIII-720’); however in the Dutch version of this catalogue the details are given as Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw, no. MNWr VIII-720; with thanks to Claudia Hörster (Royal House Archives, The Hague). According to Rudi Ekkart (email to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 4 May 2015; DPG396 file) it is Wroclaw, although the picture was not included in 2006 catalogue of Netherlandish pictures in Wroclaw by Bozena Steinborn (Steinborn 2006), but see Steinborn 1977, cat. no. 34, where it is discussed as part of Thomas Rehdigers’s ‘Gallery of the Famous’.

4 RKD, no. 283692: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/283692 (April 7, 2017); De Witt 2008, pp. 29–30, no. 10.

5 RKD, no. 283565: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/283565 (April 2, 2017); https://www.vads.ac.uk/digital/collection/NIRP/id/26697/rec/4 (Jan. 23, 2021; F. Nevola).

6 For Anna of Saxony see Deen 2018.

7 Spies 2005, p. 241 (fig. 2).

8 ibid., pp. 244, 246, 248.

9 See for the dates see Woodall 2007, pp. 501–2. For Moro in general see also Veldman 2016; Van de Laar 2010; Woodall 2007; Woodall 1996 and Ecartico, no. 5478: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/5478 (Dec. 6, 2019).

10 At Sir Peter Lely’s sale of 1682 there were three pictures of a Countess of Suffolk acquired by a Dr Cole (1/2 copy £2 9s.) and Mr Saunders (3/4 £1 6s.), and a Lady Suffolk (1/2 copy; £2 10s.) purchased by a Mr. Sadler. Dethloff 1996c, pp. 30, 33, 39.

11 According to John Ingamells, Netherlandish School: letter to Martin Spies, 6 June 2005 (DPG396 file).

12 Ozzola 1953, pp. 17 (no. 115), 18 (no. 116) and 19 (no. 122), figs 83, 84, 85. All three are called Portrait of a Lady and said to be by Giovanni Bahuet. The first is certainly of Anna van Buren: see Woodall 2007, p. 393, fig. 141.

13 See Woodall 2007, pp. 392–3, 483, where Willem is paired with a portrait of Anna van Buren of which the prime version (figs 140–41) is in Mantua (see note 12); Schnackenburg 1996a, i, pp. 190–91, ii, pl. 10. Paired portraits were traditionally family or marriage portraits. Anna van Buren in Mantua, however, features as one of a series of beauties: Van Luttervelt 1959.

14 Undated note from Diana Scarisbrick written for Richard Beresford (before 1998; also concerning DPG375 and DPG389; DPG369 file).

15 Spies 2005, p. 242, note 15.

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