On Friday I visited the ‘Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey’ exhibition at the National Gallery.
‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ (1832) in Room 4 hangs on its own against dark drapes. This backdrop and clever lighting give the illusion that the painting is far larger than it normally looks in the main gallery. The colours are also more vibrant, with the white of Jane’s clothing standing out in stark contrast to the dark background.
‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ was influenced by Delaroche’s experience of theatre performance and was also shaped by memories of traditional images of martyrdom.’
In Room 5 are preliminary sketches of the painting, copies by other artists, engravings inspired by and a painting of the original owner (Anatole Demidoff).
The National Gallery suggests that Anais Aubert (an actress) may have been Delaroche’s model for Jane Grey.
The preliminary sketches include:
Study for Jane Grey (squared – 1832/3)
Study for 2 hands
Studies with ladies- in- waiting & executioner (squared – 1832/3)
Study for Jane Grey
Notes of one study:
‘Here Delaroche has established the structure of his picture, though the character of the executioner is markedly different. (The executioner is holding a long sword instead of an axe).
Jane’s dress is also very different and ‘strongly resembles one worn by Anais Aubert in a tiny intimate portrait by Delaroche. This helps to corroborate Anais Aubert posed for Lady Jane Grey at least in the preliminary stages.’
The National Gallery also suggests that ‘If AA modelled for the young queen, the model for the lieutenant may be a certain Charles Guyot mentioned in a letter from Delaroche arranging a sitting.’
Copies by other artists and engravings inspired by Delaroche
Giovanna Grey (1837)
Giuseppe Gatti (1807-1880) and Gaetano Dura (1805-1878)
After drawing by Achille Deveria (1800-1857)
Jane Grey (about 1857)
Paolo Mercuri (1804-1884)
Feckenham by order of the Queen visits Lady Jane Gray in the Tower (1792)
William Bromly (1769-1842)
After James Northcote (1746-1831)
Two wood engravings appeared in Paris magazines weeks after the opening of the Paris Salon in 1834 (where ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ was first displayed).
Death of Jane Grey after painting by Paul Delaroche
Death of Jane Grey after an English painting
Charles Grignion (1717-1810)
After Samuel Wale (1721-1786)
Death of Lady Jane Gray engraved for William Henry Montague (A New & Universal History of Enfland to the End of Year 1770)
The exhibition also includes:
Anne Boleyn in the Tower shortly after her arrest (1835)
Edouard Cibot (1799-1877)
The figures here derive from the ladies-in-waiting in ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’. For Cibot, it was above all the pathos of Delaroche’s subject he wished to emulate.’
You can view it at:
There is a range of merchandise available from the National Gallery shop including:
Exhibition catalogue (with an essay on Jane Grey by John Guy)
A DVD about the exhibition
You can watch a clip from the DVD National Gallery Shop – Painting History DVD
Italics = Copyright National Gallery