Hans Eworth

In 1540, Eworth became a master freeman in the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp. Four years later, c 1545, he moved to London, England where he became the principal court portrait painter to the Catholic Queen, Mary Tudor (1553–8). During her reign Eworth received many portrait commissions from the Catholic gentry. About 35 paintings are generally attributed to him during this period. These paintings consisted primarily of dated portraits of the English nobility.

However, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Eworth lost the court ‘s favour. This was mainly due to his close association with the Roman Catholoic Church.

Eworth’s painting style shows the influence of a number of artists. His portraits were strongly influenced by the work of Holbein and Anthonis Mor. The latter briefly visited England in 1554–5. As well, Holbein had a strong influence on Eworth’s compositions, just as it had on many English portraitists during the 16th century. Eworth’s experimentation with pose and scale are attributed to the variation in pose found in Holbein’s works. The poses, range from miniatures to life-size portraits and from bust-length to full-length. Eworth’s paintings, are however, more awkward spatially than Holbein’s works. The plasticity of Eworth’s forms and the variety of texture also recall the Holbein’s work.

As with many English portraits of the period, Eworth included a wealth of detail in the costumes and settings of his works. These details however do not overwhelm the personality of the sitter. In the work Lady Dacre, the powerful physical presence of the sitter dominates the composition. The portrait of Lady Dacre’s first husband on the wall behind her is probably by Holbein.

Only towards the end of his life did Eworth work again for the court. In 1572 until his death, he was employed by Queen Elizabeth’s Office of Revels for masque decorations.