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This exquisite Elizabethan portrait closely echoes the court portraiture of Elizabeth I, particularly portraits of the Queen herself. Some of the most striking of these are portraits by unknown artists painted during the early 1590s, which depict the Queen in nearly identical poses and dress to that of this portrait. It seems likely judging by the quality of this portrait that this painting was commissioned from an artist working in the capital, who was likely to have been influenced by the court fashions of the time.
Of all the court painters, the distinctive tone and execution of this work is arguably closest to that of Elizabeth's favourite miniature painters, Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver. This anonymous artist delicately portrays the sitter with extraordinary attention to the intricate patterning, embroidery, and lacework, and the precious jewel-like objects sought after in Elizabethan England are certainly comparable to Hilliard's Elizabeth Playing a Lute (1580) or Isaac Oliver's portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1603) belonging to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Hilliard sets aside an entire chapter in his manual, The Art of Limning to techniques in painting jewellery and needlework, suggesting their importance in 16th Century portraiture. They were a key to understanding the sitter's status, wealth and taste. The dress in this portrait is described by Clare Browne, an expert on 16th century textiles & lace at the Victoria and Albert Museum: the white silk of her petticoat and stomacher was embroidered to shape (with black silk and gold/silver-gilt threat). The black gown ought to be a patterned silk, possibly a cut velvet, although the pattern doesn't repeat properly, but this may be artistic licence. Her ruff is cut linen- either cutwork or just pulled thread work (no obvious geometric patterns) with needle lace edging. Her veil is possibly gauze or other fine woven fabric with small geometric detail in the weave. It seems to have needle lace edging.
Motifs such as fans, books and skulls recur throughout Tudor court portraiture. This work can be dated specifically by the details of the costume and Susan North, curator of the costume and textile department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, writes: The dress depicted in the portrait is characteristic of the 1590s. The long pointed waist and drum-shaped farthingale are typical of this decade, as are the sleeves which narrow from the shoulder to the wrist. She holds in her left hand a feather handscreen, also a popular accessory of the late 16th century. The full ruff, not quite closing in front, wired head-rail and veil can been seen in other portraits of women of the 1590s. Karen Hearn, the curator of 16th Century portraiture at Tate Britain, comments how the size of this work is particularly rare, neither small enough to be held in the hand or worn as a necklace like a miniature, nor comparable in scale to the diplomatic portraiture of this period.
The `Cross Patonce' or `Argent a Cross flory' between four martlets shown in the husband's side of the crest, belong to the Cheshire family, Golbourne. The Fleetwood family arms are shown on the female side of the crest. From the Golbourne family tree, there are three sons named for this period with no named marriages. The three men in question are Thomas Golborne, the illegitimate son of Richard Golborne of Overton and William and Richard Golborne, both illegitimate sons of Edward Golborne of Overton, who died in 1567.
Of these three, it seems most likely that Thomas or William Golborne would have felt entitled, or tacitly been permitted to use the family crest, and also that they would have had the means to support a marriage into a respected and influential family such as the Fleetwoods. The family tree of the period tells us that Thomas Golborne had lands in Hampton, given to him by his father. The family appears to have set aside various property `in entail' for its illegitimate sons, meaning that such property could only be inherited by those children who were illegitimate. William Golborne appears to have actually received some of these lands, in Northwich, from his father. Such arrangements suggest that the sons' illegitimacy may not have been a great impediment for them. Whilst they could not inherit the family seat or title, they were nevertheless well provided for.
This portrait may represent one of the daughters of Sir Thomas Fleetwood, an important Lancashire gentleman and Master of the Mint for the Bank of England. An inscription at Chalfont St. Giles in Buckinghamshire tells how Sir Thomas was born at Heskin, Lancashire in 1518-1570 and had eighteen children between his two wives Barbara Andrews and Bridget Spring. Only eleven of Sir Thomas's children are recorded and there is no written record of a daughter marrying into the wealthy Cheshire Golbourne family, however there are a number of unrecorded children who either died young or married illegitimate partners, their marriages thereby more secretive for example Dorothy Fleetwood (1551) whose marriage is unrecorded.
In the north-east corner of the chancel there is a mural tablet, in which are well-engraved brasses of Thomas Fleetwood, 'Lord of the Vache', who died in 1570, his first wife Barbara (Francis) is kneeling with two sons and two daughters, his second wife Bridgett (Springe) with eight sons and six daughters; below is an inscription and above three shields with the arms of Fleetwood, and Fleetwood impaling Francis and Springe. There is also an altar tomb, the base of which has circular panels containing shields, one with a brass shield of Fleetwood, another with Fleetwood impaling Springe and the others with indents of shields. (Victoria History of Bucks, vol 3, p. 191 Burnham Hundred, Chalfont St Giles)
Charric Van der Vliet writes (September 2015):
“Solus Cum Sola” is a famous John Dowland lute pavane. This is "Solus Cum Sola" for Opharion by "I. D." which is John Dowland. (I for J) It may also be found as "Solus Sine Sola" or as "Mrs. Brigide Fleetwood's Pavane." I've not seen words. This version seems as if it was set by someone else, as it's not set with much care.
Note 1: Quarters at 1st line, 2nd beat of 4th measure changed to eighths to fit measure.
Note 2: Dotted half changed to dotted quarter at 1st beat of ninth measure, 1st line, to fit measure.
Note 3: Line 5, 4th measure. First beat is NOT a dotted quarter. The dot is a stray mark. See 5th & 6th measures.
Looked up the titles. The first means "Alone With Her." The second is "Left Alone With Her," which is apropos. From the following, maybe it's both that, and the last.
Bridget Golbourne, nee' Fleetwood, pictured at:
accessed 16 Sept, 2015, is one candidate for the "Brigide Fleetwood" mentioned.
Bridget Spring, her mother, could also be our "Brigide Fleetwood," married to Sir Thomas Fleetwood, who was Master of the Mint of the Bank of England. The daughter seems the better bet, as the age is better. Maybe they didn't want to tell Mrs. Fleetwood a song named for her daughter was named, "Alone with a Young Girl" so she was told it was "Mrs. Fleetwood's Pavane."
The Mrs. could also be the daughter, if she used her original name after marriage, and the marriage was before 1596. Today she'd hyphenate. (Golbourne was a rich guy marrying up socially, see the shield in the picture. The two devices are his and hers. His is on the left as you look at it, Dexter.) They might have used her more socially prominent name, or she might have retained it after marriage. This was more commonly done then than it is today. An example was The Earl of Sussex.
Private collection, Devon, from c.1850
By descent in the family; to 2002