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On Sunday 14 July, there will be a rolling road block in place from 9.30am – 10.30am on the B4086 from Compton Verney to Kineton for the Tempo 10km and Half-Marathon. Please plan your journey accordingly.

A Glimpse
into our
Portraits Gallery

Welcome to our Portraits and Miniatures collection.

Our outstanding Portraits collection is located on the ground floor of Compton Verney, between the Northern Europe Gallery and Women’s Library.

Adorned with incredible portraits that span the breadth of history, it is exclusively available to our members and day ticket holders.

 

Today, we will allow you a glimpse into the gallery by revealing two incredible portraits of important women in British history….

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

CVCSC:0213.B Queen Elizabeth I © Compton Verney

Hung above the majestic fireplace in the gallery and painted over 400 years ago is the exquisite portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (c.1590) which is mysterious for more reasons than one.

 

Created by an unknown artist, the painter has chosen to portray her as an ethereal, ageless figure of the nation using a selection of symbols for the viewer to discover and ‘read’.

For example, she wears a wired veil, a very popular fashion statement at the time, but it creates the shape of wings and subtly fades downwards. She wears pearls and holds and ostrich feather fan; both symbols of purity. On her bodice is a jewel in the form of a moon, evoking Diana, goddess of the hunt and of chastity. Finally, her open-worked crown containing the great central diamond known as the ‘Mirror of Portugal’, symbolises her sovereignty.

This historic portrait helps us understand a lot about Elizabeth’s reign. Although she received many proposals of marriage, she remained single and was known as the ‘Virgin Queen’. Many portraits were produced of Elizabeth I and owning and displaying a portrait such as this would have been a way to publicly demonstrate loyalty to the Queen.

Mrs. George Baldwin (Jane Maltass, 1763–1839)

Hung next to Elizabeth I is a painting made nearly 200 years later by of one of Britain’s foremost artists of the 18th century, the portrait of ‘Mrs Baldwin in Eastern Dress’ by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92).

Reynolds is remembered in history as a key artist of the 18th century, founder of the Royal Academy of Arts and the second-ever artist to be knighted. His portraits adorn the walls of important galleries in the UK including The National Portrait Gallery. This portrait of Mrs Baldwin in our collection is intriguing.

Jane Baldwin (1763-1839) was born in Turkey, the daughter of a Yorkshire merchant and wife to George Baldwin, a wealthy merchant and diplomat stationed at Alexandria in Egypt. Jane was much admired for her beauty and intelligence, and became an object of fascination in Georgian society. She was considered alluring and exotic as shown by her eastern style of dress, called ‘turquerie’. She is known to have worn the costume in this portrait several times, including at a ball in London given by King George III.

Interestingly, Reynolds was not commissioned to paint this portrait, rather, he was captivated by Jane and asked if she would sit for him. If you are wondering what she looking at, Jane was bored by the sittings and read a book, which Reynolds changed into an ancient coin. Touchingly, he never sold the painting but kept it at his studio for the rest of his life, bequeathing it to his niece when he died.

CVCSC:0331.B Reynolds, Mrs Baldwin in Eastern Dress © Compton Verney
This image depicts an art gallery displaying various artistic works from different eras and cultures. The room features ornate wooden panelling, a decorative fireplace, and large framed paintings hung on the walls, some in gilded frames. One painting shows a regal figure, likely a monarch or nobility, in an elaborate dress and ruff collar. Another portrays an individual in traditional Middle Eastern attire and a turban. In the center of the room is a carved wooden bench or seating area, as well as an ornamental sculptural piece, possibly an antique table or stand with intricate designs. There is also a modern exit sign and a door leading to another part of the gallery.