Lady Grey by Wright, 1860
Lady Grey by John William Wright, engraved by Benjamin Eyles, 1860.
This print is from Charles Heath's The Heroines of Shakespeare. Elizabeth Grey is a character in Shakespeare's historical plays Richard III and Henry VI Part 3. This depiction of Lady Grey is from the second scene in act three of Henry VI Part 3. The play deals primarily with the consequences and horrors of the Wars of the Roses. It contains more battle scenes than any other play written by Shakespeare.
Elizabeth Woodville (c.1437-1492) was an important figure throughout the Wars of the Roses. Her first husband Sir John Grey of Groby (c.1432-1461) was killed at the Second Battle of St. Albans, while fighting for the Lancastrian cause. Their brief marriage produced two sons, Thomas and Richard. Three years later, Elizabeth secretly married King Edward IV (1442-1483), the Yorkist claimant to the throne, and became Queen Consort of England. They had ten children together. When King Edward IV died suddenly in 1483, their son Edward was crowned king with his uncle, Richard Duke of Gloucester acting as regent. Richard quickly took steps to gain control of the crown himself by beheading Elizabeth's brother and her son Richard Grey and moving Edward V and his younger brother Richard Duke of York to the Tower of London. The fate of the Princes in the Tower is still a mystery and there are a number of theories surrounding their disappearance. Elizabeth conspired against Richard III by supporting Lady Margaret Beaufort's son Henry Tudor's claim to the throne. After Henry Tudor (Henry VII) defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, he married Elizabeth's eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York.
John William Wright (1802-1848) was a English watercolor painter of genre and portraits, as well as an illustrator. His father John Wright, a miniaturist painter, gave him his first introduction to leading artists of the day. John William was apprenticed to Thomas Phillips (1770-1845) and became a regular exhibitor with the Royal Academy after 1825. The Old Watercolour Society made Wright an associate, in 1831, and a full member, in 1842. He became the Society's secretary in 1844. His work was praised for its careful costume detail and sentimental style. Wright's works were often inspired by the plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and engravings of his pieces appeared in a numerous publications.
- Naomi Bean