1570-1575 Frances Audley, Countess of Sussex by ? (Sidney Sussex College, Canbridge UK)

An image of the lavishly dressed Frances Audley, Countess of Sussex. Herbert Norris attributes this to Eworth in his monumental Tudor Costume and Fashion. Scholarship marches on and more recent scholars don't know who painted this one. 

Norris describes her gown in detail, "It shows the full dress of a noble lady of the 1570s. It is carried out entirely in black velvet, embroidered all over in gold quatrefoils. In the original portrait these are about one-inch in diameter, and set two and a half-inches apart.

The costume consists of an underdress with a bodice worn over the Spanish farthingale which slopes outward at the hem. The overdress fits the waist, and is edged up the fronts with white fur - ermine or lynx. narrow bands of the same fur outline the back seams of the sleeves and the edge of the shoulder pieces; these are decorated with three patches of fur and the sleeves with five. Narrow fur also edges the hem of the skirt and train. It appears to be the mode at this time for the turn-back of the fronts of the over-robe to widen considerably where it passes over the shoulders, and so form a high upstanding collar round the back of the head. The effect of this collar was to minimize the combined length of the headdress, contrary to the vogue at the end of the following period. The wearer thus appears to have neither neck nor shoulders. The ruff and cuffs are of goffered cambric, having a narrow black satin binding set with pearls at intervals along the edge.

A rich jeweled carcenet with pendant is partly hidden by the long fur, and a jeweled girdle worn underneath the overdress has an elaborate pomander at the end. The French hood is small and close fitting, and in her left hand she holds a sable skin."

Keywords:  1570, Countess, English, coat, fur, curly coiffure, high enclosing neckline, jeweled neck ruff, jeweled cuffs, jeweled headdress, French hood, carcanet necklace, jeweled pendant chain, close sleeves, jeweled pendant, train, farthingale

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