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Title Teresia, Countess of Shirley
Collection National Trust for Scotland (Gladstone´s Land)
Artist Attributed to circle of Larkin, William (English painter, ca. 1585-1619)
Previously attributed to Geeraerts, Marcus, the younger (Flemish painter, 1561-1635, active in England)
Date Earliest about 1611
Date Latest about 1613
Description Lady Teresia Shirley was the wife of the Sussex adventurer, Sir Robert Shirley, a Circassian by birth and the daughter of Ishmael Khan. The Shirleys travelled a great deal, but were in England from 1611 to 1612/13 - a date which fits with the costume of this portrait. The embroidery on her dress includes honeysuckles, signifying love, and strawberries, symbolising fruitfulness. These emblems may have a special meaning as the Shirley's child, Henry, was born during their short stay in England. Countess Shirley also wears black thread around her neck and disappearing into her bodice. The thread would have been attached to a keep-sake, such as a ring or miniature, hidden from view.
Current Accession Number 34.245
Inscription front ll 'Teresia, Countess Shirley'
Subject portrait (Countess Shirley)
Measurements 57.8 x 44.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (hardwood {oak})
Acquisition Details Given by Mr and Mrs Seiden 1981.
Provenance Bernal sale, Christie's, 12 March 1855, lot 839 as by Geeraerts, bought by Redfern for 5 guineas; Major-General Sir Miles Graham sale, Christie's, London, 27 June 1980, lot 99; Christie's sale, 27 March 1981, lot 112.

Stencil on back 'BE608'; paper label 'Teresia, Countess Shirley by M. Garrards, from the B[ernal; ] Collection in S[...] 1855 lot 839'; large paper label with typed biographical information on Countess Shirley; chalk inscription 'LOT 112 27.3.81'.

This portrait is very different from Van Dyck's glamorous image of Lady Shirley, painted during the Shirley's short stay in Rome during the summer of 1622 (see Barnes, S. et al,Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of Paintings, New Haven & London, 2004, cat no. II.63, pp. 203-5). The handling of this portrait is not suggestive of an attribution to Geerhaerts (email from Karen Hearne, Tate, 2007). The embroidered dress more strongly suggests the mysterious English painter, William Larkin. His Portrait of an Unknown Lady (c.1615, Bristol) and called Queen Elizabeth I (c. 1615-20, Coll. Earl of Haddington) (both attributed to Larkin) support an attribution to ‘circle of' Larkin.

Rights Owner National Trust for Scotland
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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