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Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Margaret, Lady Elyot (c.1500-1560)
A portrait drawing of Margaret, Lady Elyot (c.1500-1560), daughter of Sir Maurice à Barrow, and wife of Sir Thomas Elyot. The portrait shows her head and shoulders facing three-quarters to the right. She wears a yellow gable headdress and pendant. A companion portrait to RL 12203 of Sir Thomas Elyot. Inscribed in an eighteenth-century hand at upper right: The Lady Eliot.
Margaret Abaragh (c.1500-1560), who married the author Thomas Elyot in 1520, was an intellectual in her own right: the late sixteenth-century writer Thomas Stapleton noted that she ‘also gave herself to the study of literature’. Margaret Elyot outlived Sir Thomas by nearly 15 years, and married, as her second husband, Sir James Dyer, a scholarly lawyer who was to become Speaker of the House of Commons.
This drawing of Lady Elyot is a pair to the portrait of her husband. Both were presumably intended as studies for oil paintings, which, if they were completed, have not survived. Unusually for a marriage pair, Lady Elyot is shown on the left, with her husband on the right. Susan Foister has suggested that this may indicate that one of the drawings was completed before the idea of a pair was decided upon.
Catalogue entry adapted from The Northern Renaissance. Dürer to Holbein, London 2011