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Teerlinc [née Bening or Benninck], Levinalocked

(d. 1576)

Teerlinc [née Bening or Benninck], Levina (d. 1576), painter, was one of the daughters of Simon Bening, or Benninck (1483?–1561), the finest Bruges illuminator of the sixteenth century. She was presumably trained in her father's workshop, and came to England, into royal service, about 1545. She was by then married to George Teerlinc, who became a gentleman pensioner, while she was granted in November 1546 an annuity of £40 p.a., which continued until her death. The Teerlincs lived in more than one London parish, and Levina, for a painter, enjoyed an unusual degree of social status. In the new year's gift list of 1563 she is described as 'gentlewoman' and by her son, in 1595, as 'sworne as one of the privye chamber to the Quenes Majestie' (Strong, Renaissance Miniature, 54).

In that role Teerlinc annually presented a miniature. In 1553 she gave Mary I 'a smale picture of the Trynite' (Strong, Renaissance Miniature, 55), and nine more miniatures are recorded in the surviving new year's gift lists between 1559 and 1576. These were either portraits of the young queen or of her in a group with, for example, her knights of the Garter or on progress. As early as 1551 Teerlinc was sent to the Princess Elizabeth 'to drawe owt her picture'. No signed or documented work by her is known and what can be assembled as an œuvre emerges from the few surviving miniatures between 1545 and 1575. The most important of these is that depicting the royal maundy (priv. coll.) and an early portrait of Elizabeth I (Royal Collection). Others can be more speculatively added to that nucleus, both miniatures and illuminations, but there can be no certainty that they are by her.

Based on this possible œuvre, Levina Teerlinc's style is that of the illuminators in the Ghent–Bruges tradition, although the portrait miniatures attributed to her show the influence of Lucas Hornebolt, her predecessor, and—in terms of composition—Hans Eworth. Their most characteristic feature is a head attached to a too small, spindly body. Their technique is awkward, thin, and often cursory, which is perhaps surprising in light of the regard in which she was held, as suggested by her very high salary. Resident in Stepney, she died on 23 June 1576.

Sources

  • R. Strong and V. J. Murrell, Artists of the Tudor court: the portrait miniature rediscovered, 1520–1620 (1983) [exhibition catalogue, V&A, 9 July – 6 Nov 1983]
  • R. Strong, The English Renaissance miniature (1983), 54–64