Elizabeth Wriothesley

Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Southampton, c. 1600. Artist unknown. Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Southampton, c. 1600. Artist unknown. Copyright Buccleuch Collection.

The portrait of Elizabeth Wriothesley (née Vernon), Countess of Southampton (1572-1655) and wife of Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), was painted by an unknown artist in about 1600. The painting is now in the private collection of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry (Buccleuch Collection, Boughton House, Northamptonshire, England).

As a young woman, Elizabeth Vernon was a member of Queen Elizabeth’s (1533-1603) court. She secretly married the Earl of Southampton in 1598 after she discovered she was pregnant. The Queen forced her to leave court when she discovered what had happened. Later the countess was forgiven and returned to court to become one of the chief ladies-in-waiting to the Queen.

In the portrait the countess is shown at her toilette combing her hair. She is wearing an embroidered jacket (then known as a waistcoat) with twining flowers (honeysuckle, lilies, roses, etc), over a rose-coloured corset. There is some question as to whether she is wearing a petticoat or nightwear. Whatever the case, the garment is embroidered with a pattern of gold and blue plants and insects. There is a transparent skirt covering the embroidered garment and to her left is shown the edge of another, grey embroidered garment, probably an over skirt.

On the table to the left there is a rectangular pin cushion, as well as some jewellery. Behind the Countess there is a purple curtain embroidered in gold. Floating in front of the curtain is a lace ruff (the small dog at her feet is also wearing a ruff of some kind). To the right of the countess there are three embroidered cushions and what appears to be an embroidered garment of some kind with a gold coloured edge, which is possibly embroidered.

See also: Layton jacket

Source: RIBEIRO, Aileen (2005). Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England, New Haven Conn./London: Yale University Press.

Exhibition: Elizabeth I and Her People, National Portrait Gallery, London (October 2013-January 2014) (retrieved 30 May 2016)

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 30 May 2016)


Last modified on Monday, 15 August 2016 19:42