circle of Cornelius Johnson, Lady Mary Townshend (1608–1669)

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
Lady Mary Townshend (1608–1669)
c.1638, altered 1730s
The Belisarius Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 276 cm, Overall width: 137 cm
circle of Cornelius Johnson (1593-1661)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed bottom right: ‘Mary Vere daughter to Ld Vere/ and wife to Sr Roger Townshend/ Father to Horatio Ld. Townshend’


Lady Mary (see RN16) was the daughter and co-heir of Horatio, Lord Vere and wife to Sir Roger Townshend (1595–1637). 

This painting has been extended in the top portion by 75 cm from a standard full-length portrait, at which point the red curtain was greatly increased as a framing device. It may have been enlarged as part of William Kent’s interior scheme during the 1730s, in which the high-ceilinged Belisarius Room, where it hangs now, was hung with ‘Seven Whole Length Portraits of Ladys & Gentlemen Cn. Jensen & Sir G[odfrey] K[neller]’. 

Mary Vere’s costume bears a strong resemblance to that worn by Princess Henrietta of Lorraine (English Heritage, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House, 88028826), painted by Van Dyck in 1634, and this portrait may have been painted to commemorate Mary’s second marriage to Mildmay Fane, 2nd Earl of Westmorland in 1638. However, the unknown artist has absorbed none of Van Dyck’s stylistic influences. Reserved, rigid and rather flat, its composition is similar to those used by Cornelius Johnson but the stiffness of the fabric and lack of subtlety and contouring in the face indicate a less skilled hand.

by Amy Lim


Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. Rev. Edmund Farrer, vol. 2, Norwich : Jarrold and Sons, 1928, vol. 2, p. 232, no. 40 (‘MARY, LADY VERE’)

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