The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, by the French academic painter, Paul Delaroche (1797-1856), is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery. A sensation when exhibited at the 1834 Paris Salon, it was widely reproduced in print. Yet by 1902, theatrical history paintings, such as Delaroche's, had fallen out of favour in Britain and it was placed in storage. In fact, the picture was thought to have been lost until its rediscovery in 1974.
Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey presents The Execution of Lady Jane Grey with other large history paintings and preparatory sketches that made Delaroche's reputation during his lifetime. These include Charles I Insulted - a painting thought to have been ruined during World War II and only recently unearthed.
The influence of a variety of sources - such as popular prints and theatre - on Delaroche's approach to depicting English history is examined, and his interest in theatre is confirmed by new evidence that the likely model for Lady Jane Grey was a Parisian actress, the ingenue Mademoiselle Anais.
An essay by John Guy, the distinguished historian of Tudor England, outlines the short life of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for only nine days, and her enduring mythical status as an innocent martyr.
Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey was published to accompany the Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey exhibition at the National Gallery in 2010.View spreads of this book (1.5 MB PDF)
'A fascinating reappraisal'