English School , Late Sixteenth Century
Wentworth earned royal favour with Henry VIII by joining Suffolk’s invasion of France and was knighted in 1523.
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Baron Wentworth (1501-1551) was an astute and highly influential courtier, who served both Henry VIII and his son, Edward VI. He was born in 1501 to parents of significant noble stock; Thomas’s father, Sir Richard Wentworth (d.1528) was sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, he fought in the Battle of Spurs and was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 and his mother, Anne Tyrell was the daughter of Sir James Tyrell who was perhaps responsible for the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, although this was never proven.
Wentworth earned royal favour with Henry VIII by joining Suffolk’s invasion of France and was knighted in 1523. He was a known supporter of the king’s choice to divorce Catherine of Aragon and this loyalty earned him the title of Baron in 1529. As a peer, Wentworth participated in the trials of Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536, ultimately leading to her execution and the appointment of Wentworth’s Cousin Jane Seymour as Queen of England. Wentworth’s connections to royalty only increased with the birth of Prince Edward (later King Edward VI) and on the 15th October 1537 he was asked to assist with the Prince’s baptism.
It was between 1547 and 1549 that Wentworth reached his greatest political heights. In August 1547 Wentworth was admitted to the Privy Council under his cousin Lord Protector Somerset and in 1550, he replaced the Catholic Lord Arundel as Lord Chamberlain to Edward VI, a post he carried out for only a year before his death in 1551. He was given a funeral in Westminster Abbey and is buried there in the chapel of St. John the Baptist.
The present work is by an unknown English hand working towards the end of the sixteenth century and is after the original work by an unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist in the National Portrait Gallery, London. An inscription on the reverse identifies the artist as ‘Theodore Bernard or Bernardi/who also painted the Kings, Queens and Bishops in Chichester Cathedral’, and although Bernardi is accredited with having painted the Chichester panels, they were started c.1519, while dendrochronological analysis of the Wentworth panel suggests an earliest plausible date of creation from 1597, ruling out a Bernardi attribution.