Alice, Martin, & Stephen Barnham, England 1557

Photo Details

Alice Barnham and her sons Martin and Stephen: This group portrait, oil on panel, dated 1557 and long mislabeled "Lady Ingram and Her Two Boys Martin and Stephen" has now been shown to be a portrait of Alice Barnham and her two oldest sons. In the portrait, she is dressed in expensive but not lavish clothing. She wears a dark gown lined with fur and trimmed at the neck and wrists with lace. On her head she wears what was known as a French hood, or coif. Above the head of each boy is a plaque giving his date and time of birth: Martin was born at 9 o'clock in the morning on March 26, 1548, and Steven was born at 10 o'clock at night on July 21, 1549. Above Alice's head is a similar plaque which also gives her date of birth: September 30, 1523. However, it also reads "Tornid/fro that I was unto that/ye se A. Dni 1557" ("Turned from that I was into that you see, Ano Domini 1557"). This seems to indicate that in or before 1557, the date of the picture, her status changed in some way. The notable absence of the boys' father from the portrait suggests to some that perhaps he had been forced into hiding or even into exile because of his religious beliefs, and that Alice had become the head of the family in his place. However, Sir Francis was very much alive at the time and living in London. Thus, some other reason must be supposed for his absence from the family portrait.
at The Barnham home, London, England


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