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Gheeraerts, Marcus (Flemish, b.1561, d.1635-1636), Artist
Margaret Hay, Countess of Dunfermline
1615
oil on canvas
1130 x 885 mm stretcher size; 1255 x 1005 mm frame size
1-1974
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1974 by Mary, Dora and Esmond de Beer.
With her bejewelled, swept-back hair, elaborate ruff, gold embroidery, pearls and lace, and a skirt worn over a farthingale, Margaret Hay, the daughter of a Scottish nobleman, is dressed in the height of early 17th-century fashion. At the age of fifteen she was married, for political reasons, to the 51-year old Lord Chancellor of Scotland, Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline. This portrait, by one of England’s leading portrait painters, is a statement of the power, wealth and status of her husband. Lord Dunfermline’s portrait, also by Gheeraerts and now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, is, however, much more restrained.
After her husband’s death in 1622 Margaret waited eleven years before marrying Lord Livingston, later Earl of Callendar. Again her marriage placed Margaret at the centre of the political stage. She died in 1659 at the then considerable age of 67.

not on view

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