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Portrait of Lady Trelawny up for auction

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

A portrait thought to be of Rebecca Hele, who married Bishop Trelawny

A portrait thought to be of Rebecca Hele, who married Bishop Trelawny

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A portrait of a lady, believed to be Rebecca Hele who married the Bishop Trelawny immortalised in the Cornish anthem, is going under the hammer at Christie's, writes Sarah Pitt.

Rebecca, daughter of Devonian gentry, married Sir Jonathan Trelawny, best known as Bishop Trelawny of Pelynt near Looe, in 1684, aged just 14 and went on to bear him a number of children.

A few years after their marriage, her husband was one of seven bishops imprisoned in the Tower of London, after opposing King James II's Declaration of Indulgence, widely viewed as favouring Catholics. The escapade, which ended with their release, is recalled every year in Cornwall on Trelawny Day, with the singing of Robert Hawker's The Song of the Western Men.

The painting of Lady Trelawny, up for auction on February 26 at Christie's South Kensington showroom in London, has an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 (visit www.christies.com).

Christie's paintings expert Amparo Martinez-Russotto said it was in good condition, given its age, and the face and hands were depicted with considerable skill.

"We don't know who it is painted by, but it was someone working in the studio of Michael Dahl, a very imminent portrait painter of the seventeenth century," she said. "The label on the reverse says that it is the wife of Bishop Trelawny, although we are being a bit cautious about that, as obviously we don't have any other portraits of her to compare it with."

She said Westcountry interest was expected. "I would have thought it would go to someone with an interest in the Bishop Trelawny story."

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