The Berger Collection

Attributed to William Larkin (ca. 1585-1619)
Mary Radclyffe, ca. 1610-13
Oil on panel
40 x 36 in. (101 x 91 cm)

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William Larkin painted some of the most fashionable figures of the Jacobean period. Among them was Mary Radclyffe, the wife of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston, who rose to prominence as a courtier during the reign of James I. Mary's costume helps us date this portrait quite accurately. Her low-cut dress, closed ruff, simple pearl jewelry, black silk string ties, and feathered hair were all the rage in the first decade of the seventeenth century; but in 1613 the style fell rapidly from fashion. The painting must therefore have been painted just before that date. Behind Larkin's subject are two elaborately draped curtains. He used this device so often that until he was definitively identified in the twentieth century, he was known simply as the "curtain master."


William Robertson Coe Foundation, Long Island, New York; Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, November 29, 1961, lot 20; Duitt Ltd., London; Maurice H. Rosenblatt; Lewis J. Ruskin, Scottsdale, Arizona; by descent to Miss Pamela Ruskin, New York; Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 1996, lot 19 (as Portrait of a Lady); private collection, U.K.; with Simon R. Gillespie Studio. London


R. Strong, The English Icon, 1969, p. 333; R. Strong, William Larkin: Icons of Splendour, 1995, p. 68, no. 7

Exhibited: Phoenix Art Museum, on loan 1961-95

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