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Levina Teerlinc: ca.1510-1576

Famous Flemish Miniaturist

Levina Teerlinc was a Flemish miniaturist who served as a painter to the English court of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Teerlinc was the oldest daughter of the Simon Bening (sometimes written as Benninc or Benninck), the renowned illuminator of the Ghent-Bruges school. Bening probably trained his daughter as a manuscript painter. Teerlinc may have worked in her father’s workshop before her marriage.

In 1545, she moved with her husband, George Teerlinc of Blankenberge, to England. She then served as the royal painter to Henry VIII, whose royal painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, had recently died. Her annuity for this position was £40 - rather more than Holbein had been paid. Later she served as a gentlewoman in the royal households of both Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Levina Teerlinc was known to have painted many pictures of Queen Elizabeth I. All these pictures were done as miniatures, or linings. At first these paintings were square, but in 1569 she painted a portrait of an unknown man, in an oval shape. She also wrote words around the edge of her miniatures. No other artist had done this before, and it seemed that Levina liked to try out new ideas. Unfortunately, many of hers paintings were destroyed in a big fire at Whitehall.

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