Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Titian Portrait of Mary?

Rediscovered Portrait of Mary?

Has a new portrait of Mary by no less an artist that Titian come to light?

Below an image of the painting and the reverse on which is clearly legible the words " Titianus F(ecit). 


Assuming the portrait is of Mary she is obviously somewhat older and could not be a life painting.

Titian lived from 1488 to 1576 and the painting has been dated to 1574 and suggested that it was commissioned by King Henry 111 of France when he visited Titian and when he seems to have commissioned quite a number of portraits. If this is correct this would make Mary 33 and Titian in his late eighties. It has also been stated that there was communication by letter between Mary and Francis at this time .

Anyone able to confirm or throw further light on this? I have certainly found reference to letters to Francis penned by Mary at Tutberry in 1569; said to be 'written without light' and smuggled out of the Castle although intercepted and not received, (by this time though Titian would be dead) and also of remonstrations by Francis to Elizabeth regarding the strictness of Mary's confinement.

Assuming this to be the case what image of Mary might Francis have passed to Titian for him to work on?

My attention has also been drawn to a book "The Castles of Mary, Queen of Scots" by Charles Mackie of 1835 which (page 53) contains the following;

"I thought I had done very well by this transaction, until I saw in the Morning Chronicle ,a flaming puff, stating that "an original portrait of Mary Queen of Scotland the undoubted work of Titian, value one thousand guineas was to be seen at No 14 Pall Mall price of admission 2s.6d"

The bait took Mr. F... put £300 or £400 in his pocket by the exhibition and sold the portrait for £700 or £800."

Could this be the same portrait? Even if it is doesn't of course in itself prove the genuineness of the portrait.

The book is out of copyright and can be downloaded free on

Lots of background work on the provenance of the portrait still to be done - obviously for the experts but if genuine a most interesting historical portrait.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Carberry Tapestry

We have recently had an inquiry regarding a tapestry depicting Mary, Queen of Scots'  surrender to the Confederate Lords at Carberry.

The enquirer advises that he is the owner of such a tapestry and mentions that a similar one is on display at Mary, Queen of Scots' House in Jedburgh.

He goes on to say that on the face of things his might appear to be older mentioning that it is rather faded, also that some of the stitches are missing and that there are certain differences between the two particularly perhaps in regard to the faces.

He wondered as to the history of the tapestry and which if either might be the original.

Below images of the two tapestries, the top one, the one at Jedburgh.

After contacting Mary, Queen of Scots House we received a reply from Zilla Oddy of Scottish Borders Council, Museum Services who wrote: (the reply reproduced with her consent)

Unfortunately we don't have very much information about our tapestry, other than that its title is "Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots to the Confederate Lords at Carberry Hill in the year 1567".  A note on the catalogue sheet says that the picture from which this tapestry was taken was first published on 1st May 1843 by Mary Parks, London and Paris, and engraved by J G Mure.  A label with documents concerning this tapestry mentions Bowyer Gallery, Golden Square, London and A Hauser, Boulevard des Italiens, Paris. It was sewn by Agnes Wilson (nee Shanks) of Hamilton

I understand that this type of tapestry was produced in quantity in kit form, so in a sense there is neither an original nor a copy, but many copies taken from an original painting.

Delighted to hear (via our website) from anyone who might have any more information on these tapestries or on the original painting.


8th. August 2013

Further to the above lots of responses.

One of our members Marie Macpherson has managed to track down the original of the painting which it would appear was for sale in Canada in 2011 and at seemingly a very reasonable price of $550 

The painting measuring 22" x 30" would appear to have been by Alexander Chisholm (1792-1847) who was a Scottish painter of historical subjects and portraits. He studied in Edinburgh and came to London in 1818. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. Many of his subjects were taken from 17th century English history. This painting among his most noted is indeed entitled "The Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots. To the Confederate Lords of Carberry Hill in the year 1567".

Member Anne Gwynn has mentioned that there is apparently a similar tapestry in the Hilton Hotel in Dunkeld in Perthshire  it would appear to bear out Zilla's statement (as also confirmed by member Linda Root) that these were produced in kit form.