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Title The Amberly Castle Panels of the Nine Heroines of Antiquity: Lady Menalippe, Queen of the Amazons
Collection Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Artist Bernardi, Lambert (Italian artist, active 1519)
Date Earliest probably about 1520
Date Latest probably about 1536

The painting is one in a series of Nine Heroines of Antiquity of which only eight survive. Commissioned by Robert Sherburne, Bishop of Chichester (1508-1536), who became heavily involved with both Henry VIII's marriage and divorce from Catherine of Aragon, the Nine Heroines may have been painted for the occasion of a visit to Amberly Castle by the king in 1526. It has been suggested they were intended to comment on the king's anxiety for a male heir. The inscriptions beneath each panel, possibly composed by the humanist scholar-bishop, may be derived from the ballad of The Nine Ladies Worthy attributed to Chaucer in the late fifteenth century.

Lady Menalippe, was among the first Queens of the tribe of warrior women called Amazons. Menalippe is shown frontally against a fictive niche with a blue ground, she wears a typical Tudor period ‘ear-muff' hat and is identified by the shield she carries emblazoned with three gold thrones on a red ground. In her right had she holds a sword, the typical attribute of justice and in her left hand she holds what appears to be a rudder, a Renaissance attribute of fortune and abundance. In the text of the original ballad, Menalippe was praised for her: §mercyall power no man cowed stand, / Thorough the world was nat found hyr pere.§ The painting is very damaged having suffered severe paint loss so the inscription beneath the figure is illegible.

Current Accession Number CHCPH 0738 C
Inscription front (illegible)
Subject history (Lady Menalippe); mythology (Amazons); figure
Measurements 112.0 x 86 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material distemper; or oil on panel (oak)
Acquisition Details Purchased by Chichester District Council with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund on behalf of Pallant House Gallery, 1983.
Provenance Commissioned by Robert Sherburne, Bishop of Chichester, for his residence Amberly Castle, c.1520-1536; at Amberly Castle c.1520-1983; Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1983, lot 18 (illustrated); purchased by Chichester District Council with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund on behalf of Pallant House Gallery, November 1983.
Principal Exhibitions The English Renaissance at Sotheby's: Pictures Manuscripts and Works of Art from the Collection of the Lord Astor of Heve and Other Owners, sale, Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1983, lot 18 (illustrated), pp. 20-21.
Publications Vertue, G., History of the Arts in England, 1756; Shoberl, F., The Beauties of England and Wales, 1813; Walpole, H., Anecdotes of Painting in England, 1828, vol. 1, p. 182; Croft-Murray, E., ‘Lambert Barnard: An English Early Renaissance Painter', Archaeological Journal, vol. 113, 1956, pp. 108-125; Steer, F. W., ‘Robert Sherburne Bishop of Chichester, some aspects of his life reconsidered', The Chichester Papers, vol. 16, 1960; Steer, F. W., ‘The Heraldic Ceiling at the Bishop's Palace, Chichester', The Chichester Papers, n.d.; Croft-Murray, E., Decorative Painting in England, 1737-1837, 2 vols, London, 1962, vol. 1, pp. 23-25, 154, pl. 36, 37; Planche, J.R., ‘The Nine Worthies of the World: An Illustration of the Paintings in Amberly Castle', Journal of the British Archaeological Association, vol. 20, 1964, pp. 321-24; Boffey, J., ‘‘Twenty Thousand More': Some fifteenth- and sixteenth-century responses to the Legend of Good Women', Middle English Poetry: Texts and Traditions. Essays in honour of Derek Pearsall, ed. A. J. Minnis, York, 2001, pp. 279-97, ill. p. 288.
Rights Owner Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Author Francesco Nevola



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