Lady Halfhyde

Of course, it wasn’t only men that sat for portraits during the Civil War. There are many paintings of women too, from Queen Henrietta Maria and her ladies in-waiting, to the wives and daughters of courtiers and soldiers.

The below painting, yet another sold at auction and therefore untraceable at present, went under the hammer with the title “A portrait of a woman, thought to be Lady Halfhyde, wife of Sir Thomas Halfhyde’.

Lady Halfhyde

The artist is unknown, but¬† in the auction listing it is given as ‘circle of William Dobson’. There is no suggested date either, and I’ve been unable to find information on who Sir Thomas Halfhyde was. The painting was previously in the ownership of a US art museum, and without contacting them it’s anybody’s guess how she came to cross the seas to America, or why they believe her to be Lady Halfhyde.

I might controversially question this identity, however, as in my travels I have come across this engraving by William Faithorne of Lady Katherine Harington, wife of the Parliamentarian politician, Sir James Harington, an accused regicide who ended his days in exile after the return of Charles II.

Katherine Harington
©Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

I was struck by the similarities of these two women. Apart from the fact that the lady in the portrait appears somewhat heavier – and this can perhaps be forgiven as they are depicted using two different mediums – to my eyes they could be the same woman, with a few minor alterations such as the addition of pearls on the dress in the painting. But the pearl necklace, the hairstyle and precise placement of the ringlets, the drapery of the outfit, and even the expression on the faces are much the same. While it could of course be argued there were common features that appeared across many pictures, so that two paintings of women in low-cut, draped dresses and pearl necklaces would hardly be a surprise, there are a lot of features that match almost exactly.

What do you think?

 

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