Lady Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery, suo jure 14th Baroness de Clifford (30 January 1590 – 22 March 1676) was an English peeress in her own right. She descended from Princess Mary, Duchess of Suffolk, the daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York by Mary’s daughter, Lady Eleanor Brandon (aunt of Lady Jane Grey). She married into the Herbert family; Sir Philip, 4th Earl of Pembroke. Pembroke was the grandson of Lady Anne Herbert; the Queen’s sister.
Lady Anne become an important woman in her time. She was an important patron of literature and due to her own writings in the form of letters and the diary she kept from 1603 to 1616, was a literary figure in her own right. John Donne said of her that she could “discourse of all things from Predestination to Slea-silk”.
Lady Anne Clifford was also a patron of art. She commissioned a large scale portrait that includes three separate panels detailing her life. The Great Picture, a huge triptych measuring 8ft 5″ high and 16ft 2″ wide, commissioned in 1646 by Anne Clifford. The artwork is attributed to Jan van Belcamp (1610-1653). It formerly hung in Appleby Castle, but is now displayed in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria. The portrait depicts Anne as a girl at left and as a mature woman at right. The central panel shows her parents and young brothers. The painting is replete with significant elements referring to her life and to her succession to her paternal inheritance, gained after a lengthy legal dispute.
Abbott Hall Art Gallery had Lady Anne featured in an exhibition, Anne Clifford: A Life of Portrait and Print. Abbott Hall is in the Lake District where the Parr family originated. The Huddersfield University in Kendal, UK, wrote a feature PDF on two pieces presented in the exhibition.
- “Great Books of Record” which preserves Anne’s ancestral records and her own children and grandchildren. Three volumes were made specifically to highlight the inheritance the women of the Clifford family brought to their marriages. A nod to what would become “feminism” I suppose.
- “The Great Picture” which is previously discussed and a portrait is provided in this post.