The Berger Collection

Robert Peake (ca. 1551-1619)
Anne Knollys, 1582
Oil on panel
Inscribed, 1582 / AEt. 26. / Anne Knollys / now Lady De La Warr
22 3/4 x 16 1/2 in. (58 x 42 cm)

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Anne Knollys (pronounced Knowles) was the daughter of Sir Francis Knollys (1514-1596), one of Elizabeth I's courtiers. Through her mother, Catherine, Anne was related to Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, making her a second cousin of Elizabeth I. In 1571, she married Thomas West, Baron de la Warr, with whom she had several children. This bust-length portrait depicts Anne wearing an enormous figure-of-eight cartwheel ruff, which, like her French hood and elaborately embroidered dress with winged shoulders, was highly fashionable in the 1580s. Around her neck she wears a pelican jewel. The pelican, which pierces its breast to feed its young, has traditionally been a symbol of Christ's sacrifice. At this time, the pelican was also used to symbolize the relationship between Elizabeth I and her subjects. By wearing a pelican jewel in this way, Anne Knollys thus declared her loyal allegiance to the queen.


By descent to the Saunders family; at Fern Hill near Windsor, 1776; Sotheby's, London, January 30, 1974, lot 158; with Phillips & Page; Sotheby's, London, July 10, 1996, lot 10

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