Joan Tuckfield

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Joan Tuckfield

Joan Tuckfield was a wealthy Exeter lady of the 16th century. She was the widow of John Tuckfield, Mayor in 1549-50, and her will established several local charities. This portrait, by an unknown artist, is an oil painting on wooden boards, showing her in 1573 when she was aged 67.

Commenting on her clothing, Mr Richard Davin, a costume specialist, has written as follows:

'Mrs Tuckfield’s small ruff is fastened by a pair of tasselled strings, and on her breast is pinned a small gold brooch, either set with stones or decorated enamel. She also wears several rings on two fingers of her left hand; the plainer bands are guard rings, worn partly to protect her more precious jewellery. Around her waist is an embroidered belt, rather masculine in style.

Framing Joan’s somewhat dour face, is a gable hood- a style of head-dress introduced during the reign of Henry VII. The black velvet has been pinned up in two loops, rather than left hanging at the back.

Like many early panel paintings, this portrait of Joan Tuckfield shows considerable signs of overpainting and restoration. For example, seen in a raked light, there is the suggestion of a stand collar and a different shape to the top of her bodice. However, in its present state the picture shows her in a gown of scarlet and black woollen, perhaps woven locally. The rigid, conical shape of her bodice is achieved by wearing a corset.'

The portrait forms part of the Exeter Guildhall picture collection.

Acknowledgments: Exeter Guildhall Exeter City Museums

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