Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey
Oil on board; signed and dated 1862; labelled
9 x 11 inches
Royal Academy, 1863. no 618
A new edition of The Scholemaster by Roger Ascham, tutor to the Tudor Kings and Queens Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, was brought out in 1863, the year this picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy, three hundred years after it was first published. Soon after the Protestant Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed queen in 1553, she was imprisoned in the Tower by supporters of her sister Mary, a Catholic, and was executed before she could be crowned. Known as the ‘Nine Days’ Queen’, she was to some a victim of bloody Tudor politics, to others, a Protestant martyr, and to many since, a Humanist one. When Ascham visited her he found her reading Plato’s Phaedo whilst every one else was out hunting. He described her as one of the most learned women of her day: ‘Before she was 12- years-old, she was mistress of 8 languages’. Here she is depicted with her cousin, Ascham’s pupil, Edward VI, and from the way she is turning the pages of the book, it seems that she is teaching him. Joseph Bouvier was one of six children of the artist Jules Bouvier. All became painters, including at least two sisters.