Levina Teerlinc

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Miniature portrait, possibly of Levina Teerlinc, painted by Nicholas Hilliard in 1572, when the lady in the picture was 52 years of age. Buccleuch Collection[1]

Levina Teerlinc (1510s – 23 June 1576) was a Flemish Renaissance miniaturist who served as a painter to the English court of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. She was the most important miniaturist at the English court between Hans Holbein the Younger and Nicholas Hilliard. Her father, Simon Bening, was a renowned book illuminator and miniature painter of the Ghent-Bruges school and probably trained her as a manuscript painter. She may have worked in her father's workshop before her marriage.[2]


Self-portrait by and of Simon Bening, Levina Teerlinc's father

Teerlinc was born in Bruges, Flanders (which is now a part of Belgium) in the 1510s, one of five daughters of renowned miniaturist Simon Bening and granddaughter of Catherine van der Goes (closely related to Hugo van der Goes) and Alexander Bening.[3][4] After marrying George Teerlinc of Blanckenberge in 1545, Teerlinc left for England, and is documented there by 1546, when she became court painter to the Tudor court, serving Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. She received an annual salary of £40 from 1546 until her death in 1576, as granted by Henry VIII[5] and recorded by Lodovico Guicciardini (1567),[5] which was more than was provided to Holbein.[6] She was the only female painter in the court of Henry VIII,[7] although Catherine Parr was said to have employed three women miniature painters and these were Susannah Hornebolt, Levina Teerlinc and Margaret Holsewyther.[8]

Queen Mary gave her a New Year's day gift of a gilt silver salt in 1556 and she gave the queen a small picture of the Trinity.[9] In 1559 Teerlinc was appointed tutor in painting to the King's daughter at the Spanish Court.[10] She and her husband had one son, Marcus.[7] She died in Stepney, London on 23 June 1576.[11]


Art historian Louisa Woodville writes:[12]

Teerlinc’s contemporaries were impressed by her work. The sixteenth-century Florentine historian Lodovico Guicciardini heralds Teerlinc as the best of the women painters practicing at the time. Seventy-five years later, Flemish historian Antonius Sanderus assured his readers that she was “very capable in the two specialties of art.”


Portrait of Elizabeth I attributed to Levina Teerlinc, c. 1560–5. The Royal Collection.[13] The likeness the sitter bears to those in miniatures of Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford, has led to many suggestions that Lady Katherine Grey may be the sitter instead

No surviving works have been confirmed as Teerlinc's.[14] Yet she was one of the most well-documented artists at court in miniature painting, providing various portraits of Elizabeth I in the years 1559, 1562, 1563, 1564, 1567 ("a full-length portrait"), 1568 ("with Knights of the Order"), 1575 ("with other personages"), and 1576.[4] She also painted for Mary I in 1556 as a New Year gift "a small picture of the trynitie".[5] Teerlinc is best known for her pivotal position in the rise of the portrait miniature. She might have trained Nicholas Hilliard, by training a goldsmith, in the methods of miniature portraiture.[15]

Attributing Teerlinc's works is challenging because she did not always sign them. However, there are a few existing paintings that are suspected to be Teerlinc's due to the fact she was the only active miniaturist of prominence in English court between Hans Holbein the Younger in 1543 and Nicholas Hilliard in the 1570s.[16] Some scholars also speculate that many of the miniatures were lost in the fire at Whitehall.[17]

Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford with her eldest son Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp, by Levina Teerlinc. Late 1562 or early 1563.[18] Private Collection

A 1983 exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum represented "the first occasion when a group of miniatures has been assembled which can be attributed to Levina Teerlinc".[6] Since the exhibition also performed the same function for her predecessor as court miniaturist, Lucas Hornebolte, it was especially useful in developing consensus on attributions. Five miniatures and two illuminated manuscript sheets were in the group, including a miniature of Lady Katherine Grey from the V&A, and others from the Yale Center for British Art, the Royal Collection (both of these possibly of the young Elizabeth I, and private collections). Strong considered there was "a convincing group of miniatures that emerge as the work of a single hand, one whose draughtsmanship is weak, whose paint is thin and transparent and whose brushwork loose".[6] She also probably designed the Great Seal of England for Mary I and the earliest one used by Elizabeth (in the 1540s).[10]

Possible portrait miniature of Amy Robsart on the occasion of her wedding, 1550,[note 1] by Levina Teerlinc. In the Yale Center for British Art

Partial list of works[edit]

Victoria and Albert Museum[edit]

  • Levina Teerlinc, Portrait of Lady Katherine Grey, About 1555–60, Museum no. P.10-1979[19]
  • Levina Teerlinc, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1566, Museum no. P.21-1954[20]
  • Levina Teerlinc, Portrait of Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney, ca.1575, Museum no. E.1170-1988[21]


  • Levina Teerlinc?, Portrait of Queen Mary I, Duke of Buccleuch's collection
  • Levina Teerlinc?, Portrait of a Young Woman, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
  • Levina Teerlinc?, Portrait of Elizabeth I in State Robes, Welbeck Abbey collection



  1. ^ There have been several tentative identifications of this miniature. One theory is that it is a wedding picture of Lady Jane Grey, Amy Robsart's sister-in-law. Eric Ives argues that it cannot be Jane Grey because (among other considerations) she was too young, and says: "If the sitter was a Dudley wife and the miniature is a wedding memento, the acorns suggest Amy Robsart, who married ... at the precise age of 18 (Robert, robur, Latin for oak)." (Ives 2009 pp. 295, 15–16). Chris Skidmore concurs with this, adding that Robert Dudley used the oak as a personal symbol in his youth (Skidmore 2010 p. 21).
  2. ^ "Second half of the second half of the 1550's"[5][23]


  1. ^ Taylor, Melanie V. (4 March 2023). "Levina Teerlinc (?) Henry VIII's court artist from 1546 – 1576". Melanie V Taylor. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  2. ^ "Levina Teerlinc: Biography & Works". Study.com. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Teerlinc, Levina (c. 1520–1576) | Encyclopedia.com".
  4. ^ a b Dictionary of women artists. Gaze, Delia. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. 1997. pp. 1358–1359. ISBN 1884964214. OCLC 37693713.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b c d Sutherland, Harris, Ann (1976). Women artists, 1550-1950. Nochlin, Linda,, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (First ed.). Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art. pp. 102–104. ISBN 0394411692. OCLC 2542396.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c Strong 1983:52
  7. ^ a b Gaze, Delia (1997). Dictionary of women artists. London; Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 9781884964213. OCLC 37693713.
  8. ^ James, Susan E. (1 January 2018). Maes, Hans (ed.). "Lady jane grey or queen kateryn parr? National portrait gallery painting 6804: Analysis and historical context". Cogent Arts & Humanities. 5 (1): 1533368. doi:10.1080/23311983.2018.1533368. ISSN 2331-1983.
  9. ^ John Nichols, llustrations of the manners and expences of antient times in England (London, 1797), pp. 9, 22
  10. ^ a b King, Catherine (1999). What Women Can Make. pp. 61–62.
  11. ^ RKD data
  12. ^ Woodville, Louisa (12 May 2020). "Levina Teerlinc, Artist and Gentlewoman of the Tudor Court". Art Herstory. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  13. ^ "British School, 16th century - Elizabeth I (1533-1603)". www.rct.uk. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  14. ^ Bergmans, Simone (1 January 1934). "The Miniatures of Levina Teerling". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs. 64 (374): 232–236. JSTOR 865738.
  15. ^ Strong, Roy (1 January 1983). "Nicholas Hilliard's miniature of the 'Wizard Earl'". Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum. 31 (1): 54–62. JSTOR 40382082.
  16. ^ Sutherland-Harris, Ann, and Linda Nochlin. Women Artists: 1550–1950. Los Angeles: Museum Associates of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976. Print.
  17. ^ Bergmans, Simone (1934). "The Miniatures of Levina Teerling". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs: 232–236.
  18. ^ a b Strong 1983:53
  19. ^ a b "Portrait miniature of Katherine Grey, Countess of Herford; Katherine Grey, Countess of Hertford | Teerlinc | V&A Search the Collections". Collections.vam.ac.uk. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  20. ^ "Portrait of an unknown woman | Teerlinc, Levina (Mrs) | V&A Search the Collections". Collections.vam.ac.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Portrait of Mary Dudley, Lady Sidney (d.1586) | Levina Teerlinc | V&A Search the Collections". Collections.vam.ac.uk. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  22. ^ Auction House, Sotheby's. "ATTRIBUTED TO LEVINA TEERLINC | Portrait of Edward VI, King of England (1537-1553), circa 1550".
  23. ^ "The Beaufort Miniature Portrait". Lady Jane Grey Revisited. July 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  24. ^ Arnold 1978
  25. ^ Woodville, Louisa (12 May 2020). "Levina Teerlinc, Artist and Gentlewoman of the Tudor Court". Art Herstory. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  26. ^ Woodville, Louisa (12 May 2020). "Levina Teerlinc, Artist and Gentlewoman of the Tudor Court". Art Herstory. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  27. ^ "Illuminated Royal Letters Patent, 1571. | Burghley Collections". Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  28. ^ a b c Strong 1981:45; Quote: "all the characteristics of Teerlinc's spidery style"
  29. ^ Taylor, Melanie V. (9 April 2020). "The Good Friday Ceremony of the blessing of cramp rings and the curing of the King's Evil". Melanie V Taylor. Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  30. ^ Saltmarsh, Polly (30 September 2020). "Portrait of an Unknown Lady: Technical Analysis of an Early Tudor Miniature". British Art Studies (17). doi:10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-17/psaltmarsh. ISSN 2058-5462.
  31. ^ Emerson, Kathy Lynn (11 October 2020). A Who's Who of Tudor Women. Kathy Lynn Emerson.
  32. ^ Museum, The Victoria and Albert (1550s), Portrait Miniature of an Unknown Man, retrieved 30 August 2023, In Roy Strong's exhibition catalogue Artists of the Tudor Court: the Portrait Miniature Rediscovered 1520-1620, London, V&A, 1983, this miniature was cat.no. 110. Strong attributed it to Nicholas Hilliard, suggesting it was probably copied after a portrait by Levina Teerlinc from 1550, and was possibly of "Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and 1st Duke of Somerset", and dated it to c. 1600. In a recent reassessment of the workshop practice of Nicholas Hilliard Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire of the V&A re-examined this miniature. Their conclusion was that "the miniature clearly dates from the 1550s". They further noted that the gold inscription, though 'not of a high quality, is in Hilliard's manner.' (See Katherine Coombs and Alan Derbyshire, 'Nicholas Hilliard's Workshop Practice reconsidered', in 'Painting in Britain 1500-1630: Production, Influences and Patronage', ed. T.Cooper et al, Oxford, 2015, pp.241-251.). The inscription in the manner of Hilliard is discussed in the light of other works pre-dating Hilliard which are inscribed in Hilliard's characteristic curling gold calligraphy: such as Hans Holbein's 'Lord Abergavenny' in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch. This suggests that it is plausible for this miniature of an unknown man to date from the 1550s but have an inscription added by Hilliard in the late 16th century. It is worth noting that the inscription on this miniature - 'Aetatis suae' - is unfinished, as the age of the sitter has not been added, and was perhaps unknown to the person adding the inscription.
  33. ^ Strong 1983:55