Lockey, Rowland (circle of). Lord Abergany and Lady.

 “Lord Abergany and Lady” oil on canvas,
39.5 x 47 inches, 100 x 119.5 cms

A portrait of Edward Neville, 8th Baron Bergavenny (1551-1622) and
(possibly) Mary Mildmay, Lady Fane (1581/82-1640)

A three-quarter length double portrait, he standing slightly behind to the left, regarding the Lady’s face and with his arm on her further shoulder and she standing in the foreground to the right regarding the viewer.  Inscribed upper left “Lord Abergany,  AEta: 51.” and upper right “and Lady AEta: 21.”
This is an unusual double portrait.  It depicts Edward Neville, born in 1550, son of Edward, 7th Baron Bergavenny, and his first wife Katherine, daughter of Sir John Brome of Halton in Oxfordshire.  He married Rachel, the third daughter of Sir John Lennard of Knole, Kent and his wife Elizabeth Harman of Crayford.  However, Rachel would have been in her 40s at the date of this portrait, so it does not depict her. 
The Lady could be Edward Neville’s daughter-in-law, the Lady Mary Sackville, who would have been about 21 in 1600 but it would be most unusual for a man to be painted with his daughter-in-law. 
A more likely explanation is this.  Within the Neville family there were complex claims and counterclaims to two titles; that of Abergavenny (complicated further by its appellation also as “Aberganny” and “Bergavenny”) and that of Le Despencer.  Since 1588 Edward’s cousin Mary Neville, Lady Fane, had pursued a claim to the Bergavenny barony.  This was resolved by a compromise implemented in 1604 when Edward Neville, shown here, was granted the Barony of Abergavenny and his cousin Lady Fane was accorded that of Le Despenser.  This portrait might therefore have been painted to record the resolution of the family dispute.  In this case, the Lady could not have been Mary Neville, Lady Fane, who was born c. 1554.  It could, however, be the wife of her son Francis Fane, 1st earl of Westmorland (1583/4-1629).  On 15 February 1598/99 he had married Mary Mildmay (1581/82-1640) the daughter and sole heir of Anthony Mildmay of Apethorpe Hall.  She would be the right age for the Lady here.  Their eldest son was Mildmay Fane, the poet and Member of Parliament.
This identification of the sitter as Mary Mildmay is helped by comparison of this painting with known likenesses of her.  We have seen photographs of three portraits of Mary Mildmay, all of which suggest that the present portrait could be of her.  An inscribed portrait of her at an older age was sold at Phillips, Son and Neale, lot 70 on 1 June 1954.  There is a full-length portrait by Mytens in which she is, again, older.  The Sotheby’s Fulbeck Hall sale on 8 October 2002 included two full-length portraits of Mary Mildmay and the 1st earl.
• By descent from the sitter to Capt. The Hon. Rupert Neville
• Stanley Seeger, Sutton Place
• The Sutton Place Heritage Trust
•  Sotheby’s, Sutton Place Sale, 17 March 1987, lot 55
• Private Collection, United Kingdom

Our ref: S00173