Lady Jane Grey (1537 - 1554) ruled as Queen of England for nine days in 1553 after the death of Edward VI. A Protestant, she was a great-granddaughter of Henry VII, but her supporters were defeated by those of the Catholic Mary I who succeeded to the throne. Lady Jane Grey was executed at Tower Hill on 12 February 1554.
In this painting, she is guided towards the execution block by Sir John Brydges, Lieutenant of the Tower. The straw on which the block rests was intended to soak up the victim's blood. The executioner stands impassive to the right and two ladies in attendance are shown grieving to the left.
The painting was exhibited at the Salon in 1834, where it caused a sensation.