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I never told you who it was that Richard of York married, did I?

As we saw, he used the alias of Sir Henry Gylford…

Hans Holbein the Younger 'Sir Henry Guildford' 1527

Hans Holbein the Younger ‘Sir Henry Guildford’ 1527

and history tells us that around 1525, Sir Henry married Lady Mary Gylford…

Hans Holbein 'Lady Mary Guildford' despite the number on the architrave, the artist dated this as 1535.

Hans Holbein ‘Lady Mary Guildford’. Despite the number on the architrave, the artist dated this as having been painted in 1535.

Now she was not a newcomer to portraiture, as we saw. The name we knew her by was Elsbeth Binzenstuck, as hidden text in the paintings confirms, and she was previously married to Hans Holbein. He painted her a lot, too, and from quite an early age:

4. Portrait of a Lady Saint, by Holbein, dated 1509 5. Sketch of an unknown lady by Holbein, labelled 'Binzenstuck', dated 1518 6: Solothurn Madonna, by Holbein dated 1522, but clearly based on the previous sketch of 4 years before. 7: Melzi 'Columbina' 1518, like all the others identified by the artist as his future wife Elsbeth 8: The Artist's Family by Holbein, dated 1528, when Elsbeth would have been 35. 9. Lady Mary Guildford, by Holbein, which despite the year engraved on the architrave, is dated by the artist as 1535, when Elsbeth would have been 42.

4. Portrait of a Lady Saint, by Holbein, dated 1509
5. Sketch of an unknown lady by Holbein, labelled ‘Binzenstuck’, dated 1518
6: Solothurn Madonna, by Holbein dated 1522, but clearly based on the previous sketch of 4 years before.
7: Melzi ‘Columbina’ 1518, like all the others identified by the artist as his future wife Elsbeth
8: The Artist’s Family by Holbein, dated 1528, when Elsbeth would have been 35.
9. Lady Mary Guildford, by Holbein, which despite the year engraved on the architrave, is dated by the artist as 1535, when Elsbeth would have been 42.

Some of you may have wondered why this list of portraits starts with number 4? That was because I chopped the first three off. And I chopped them off because some people were getting terribly upset about what Holbein was saying about the parentage of the Princes, and I didn’t want to provoke them even more. But that’s not fair to everyone else, is it? Especially since I just found another portrait of Richard of York. It’s known to art history as the Darmstadt Madonna, and he’s supposed to be the Burgermeister of Basel, but he’s not. And she’s not really the Madonna we all think her to be, either. Well, not that one, anyway. In fact you probably recognize her: it’s the recently married Lady ‘Mary’ Gylford…

Hans Holbein the Younger Darmstadt Madonna' 1528

Hans Holbein the Younger Darmstadt Madonna’ 1526

and there she is with her new husband, his earlier wife (now deceased) and their kids.

But I still haven’t told you who she really was, have I? And I’m not going to. I’m just going to let you look at the rest of the portraits of her, and see if you can guess.

🙂

Yes, I know… absurd, preposterous, ridiculous, rubbish, hogwash… that’s what I thought too. But that’s what happens to us when we all live in a fairytale for five hundred years, when we believed everything we were told, and then meet the truth. It’s bizarre, surreal, incredible. So don’t believe me: believe your own eyes instead!

1: Mona Lisa by Leonardo, in the Louvre, dated 1512 2: Mona Lisa by Salai, in the Prado, dated 1512 3: Portrait of a lady attributed to the young Hans Holbein, dated 1509 4. Portrait of a Lady Saint, also by Holbein, dated 1509 5. Sketch of an unknown lady by Holbein, labelled Lisa Binzenstuck, dated 1518 6: Solothurn Madonna, by Holbein dated 1522, but clearly based on the previous sketch of 4 years before. 7: Melzi 'Columbina' 1518, like all the others identified by the artist as 'Lisa' 8: The Artist's Family by Holbein, dated 1528, when Lisa would have been 35. 9. Lady Mary Guildford, by Holbein, which despite the year engraved on the architrave, is dated by the artist as 1535, when Lisa would have been 42.

1: Mona Lisa by Leonardo, in the Louvre, dated 1512
2: Mona Lisa by Salai, in the Prado, dated 1512
3: Portrait of a lady attributed to the young Hans Holbein, dated 1509

But of course, knowing even that doesn’t really tell you who she was, either, does it? Or why she was important enough to marry one of the Princes of the Tower?