The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne

By James M. Osborn; Thomas Whythorne | Go to book overview

APPENDIX V THE ICONOGRAPHY OF WHYTHORNE

SOME of the most interesting pages of Whythome's autobiography are those in which he tells of the portraits of him that were painted. Somewhat surprisingly, he sat for his portrait four times, the first occasion being when he was 20 or 21 years old (p. 20). He tells that he had a picture of himself playing the lute painted as a decoration on his virginals, to match a picture of Terpsichore, also playing the lute. This occurred about 1549, after he had left the service of John Heywood, and when he was living independently in London.

The second portrait was painted about a year later, after Whythorne had recovered from a long attack of the ague (p. 49). His declared purpose was to see how much this illness had changed his appearance. The painter had recently made for Whythorne a copy of his portrait of the 'Suds-of-Soap' widow, and the musician decided to have one done of himself. This was before Whythorne left for his continental travels in 1551.

The third portrait dates from about 1562, when Whythorne was 34 and had returned from Cambridge to London. Whythorne visited the studio of the same painter who had done his portrait 'ny a Dozen yeers' earlier (pp. 133-5). The new painting showed Whythorne's long, full beard, wrinkled face, hollow eyes, and other signs of maturity. The details of the studio that Whythorne gives make us wish for more, but he does not name the artist. Neither this painting nor the two earlier ones are known to have survived.

Paradoxically, the fine portrait that serves as frontispiece to this book, dated 1569, is not mentioned in the autobiography. It is now the property of Miss Winifred Hill of Worthing, Sussex, who has kindly permitted its use in this volume. It formerly belonged to her father, the late Arthur F. Hill, F.S.A., a partner in the well-known London firm of violin-makers. Earlier it had belonged to Dr. W. H. Cummings and was sold with his collection at Christie's, 17 December 1915, as lot 136: nothing is known of its provenance before that. The painting is on a panel, 12 × 10 inches; it was exhibited at the Queen Elizabeth Exhibition in London in 1933, where it was no. 177.

Although Whythorne does not mention the painting of this portrait, he describes the making of the woodcut from it to adorn the 1571

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The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Whythorne's 'New Orthografye' lxvi
  • 〈pref〉a〈ce〉 2
  • APPENDIX I LOCATION OF COPIES OF WHYTHORNE'S PRINTED SONGS 295
  • APPENDIX II WHYTHORNE AND THE DUDLEY FAMILY 297
  • APPENDIX III THE 'MUSICAL SCRAP' 300
  • APPENDIX IV TWO DELETIONS (see page 5) 304
  • APPENDIX V THE ICONOGRAPHY OF WHYTHORNE 305
  • APPENDIX VI 307
  • Index 317
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