Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Mystery Portrait: Ketel's Painting of Richard Goodricke Appears to be Dated Incorrectly

Above: Richard Goodricke of Yorkshire by Cornelis Ketel c. 1579. Source photo Weiss Gallery, London. (Art Gallery of South Australia). Latin inscription next to comet translates into "Never downward." Note pinky ring.
  The dating of this portrait raises some questions (or eyebrows) regarding fashion. The portrait is dated c.1579, I suspect, via the comet painted in the upper-right corner. (The Great comet was most visible in England between Nov. thru Jan. 1578.) Here are a few things to consider about this portrait.
--Cartwheel figure-of-eight ruff from France didn't come into fashion until the mid-1580's. (Imho this is, by far, the largest man's ruff ever recorded in the 1570's.) The heavily starched linen ruff did not become a separate item, detached from shirt, until the mid-1580's yet this is clearly a detachable pleated figure-of-eight cartwheel-style ruff.
--Sitter has cuffs instead of wrist ruffs. Cuffs came into fashion c. 1583 after which wrist ruffs vanished. So why no wrist ruffs in late 1570's?
--Sword belt heavily engraved, a style popular in the 1590's.
--Mini bum roll (upper) trunk hose padded at hips ending upper thigh, first became fashionable in 1580's.
--Canions, aka the tubular leggings from upper thigh to knee stocking, also came into fashion in the 1580's.
--Short French cloak is also feature of early 1580's, though soon replaced by longer French cloak which fell to the knee and even ankles. Both were worn draped over left shoulder.
Above: Presumably this is the Great comet of 1577-78 as painted by the Dutch painter Cornelis Ketel. Or maybe it's an Elizabethan UFO.
Ketel's sitter is said to be Richard Goodricke, who was born about 1550 in Ribston, Yorkshire, and died there in 1601. Whoever this dandy was he was at the forefront of fashion.

The painter Ketel left England forever (we think) in 1581. Ketel's signature supposedly appears on this portrait's lower right corner (not visible in photos). Ketel usually placed his monograms centered directly under the upper inscriptions.

The sitter does bear a resemblance to a certain earl notorious for French cartwheel ruffs.
Above: (left) Katherine Chiljan's portrait said (by some) to depict Edward de Vere (Katherine Chiljan private collection, source photo from cover of her book of de Vere's poetry), and (right) Richard Goodricke by C. Ketel (Art Gallery of South Australia).
It's worth noting that Ketel's friend van Manders recorded that Ketel painted de Vere ("the Duke of Oxford") sometime before 1581.
Above: coat of arms (via wikimedia). So far I haven't been able to reconcile this shabbily painted coat with any heraldry from the Yorkshire Goodricke family. And what kind of animal is that perched above the cushion? Odd how the animal's head extends outside of the painting.


  1. The Wikipedia article entitled, "Goodricke baronets," has a picture of a Richard Goodricke (1524-1581/2) with a similar coat of arms. (Perhaps the father of the man depicted here?) His son succeeded him as baronet, also named Richard, 1560-1601 (referenced in the notes, in the book by Wotten, p.259). The animal above the shield seems to be a black lion rampant holding a baton.

  2. What was the meaning of the comet ? It is often thought to be an ill omen. Perhaps it held a specific significance in this context ?