Ralph Callard, of St. Minver, Cornwall (b. c. 1530)

Circle of Gerlach Flicke
(fl. 1545 – 1558)

Ralph Callard, of St. Minver, Cornwall (b. c. 1530)

Painted Dated top right: ‘1560’; Inscribed upper right with the sitter’s coat-of-arms: Callard [Gyronny of six Or and Sable three Moor’s heads sidefaced couped proper], quartering Southcott

Oil on panel: 36 5/8 x 27 ¾ in. (93 x 70.5 cm.)



Sir Cecil Stafford-King-Harman (1895–1987), Rockingham House, Co. Roscommon; his sale,

Town & Country Estates (Ireland) Ltd. 19 – 20 March, 1959;

Richard Taylour, England; his sale

Sotheby’s, London, 27 April 1960, lot 93, (as ‘Thomas Callard by A. Moro’);

with Francis Matthiessen, London;

Christie’s, London, 3 March 1961, lot 51, (as ‘Thomas Callard by A. Mor’); bt. 110 gns. by Hutchings;

Private collection, Piedmont, Italy until 2017.


Paris, Les Peintures de Hans Holbein le Jeune au Louvre, 1985.

The sitter in this imposing portrait has traditionally been identified as Thomas Callard (d. 1585), eldest son of John Callard of Callard Manor, Devonshire, and his wife, Elizabeth Southcott. Although the arms are very clearly those of the Callard family, quartering Southcott, in fact the red five-pointed star or mullet in the centre of the shield is the cadency mark for a third son. John and Elizabeth’s third son was Ralph Callard, of St. Minver, Cornwall.[1]  

The Callards were an ancient Devonshire family from the Manor of Callard and Southcote, situated in the parish of Burrington.[2] John Callard’s father was William Callard and his mother, Alice, was the daughter of William Upcot.[3] John made a fortuitous marriage to Elizabeth, daughter and sole heiress of William Southcote. It was through this marriage the ancient property of Southcote came into the Callard family.[4]

Our portrait of Ralph is a powerful statement of wealth and prowess. His left hand rests on his broad sword ready for action, it would appear he was a man of military prowess, though we know nothing of his history today. Callard is turned contrapposto to the right, and his piercing blue eyes do not engage with the viewer, while his expensive clothes, jewellery and sword speak for his position in Tudor society. His cloak is lined with costly fur, and his black silk doublet is richly adorned with large gold chains and jewels, while his shirt is decorated with black-work embroidery trimmed with gold on the standing collar and cuffs. He wears a soft black hat with a narrow brim, decorated with gold ornaments and a rare renaissance hat jewel or ‘aigrette’ depicting John the Baptist.[5]

Ralph’s father John Callard trained as a soldier and served with Sir Henry Guildford (1489 – 1532), when they were young men, in Lord Darcy's expedition to Spain against the Moors, in 1511. When the English force returned home, Callard and Guildford remained, following which Guildford was dubbed a knight by Ferdinand and Isabella at Burgos on 15 September 1511, whilst John Callard was awarded his coat-of-arms. Given the sword so prominently featured here, it appears that Ralph followed in his father’s footsteps as a military man.

The three-quarter-length format of our portrait bears comparison to other court portraiture of the period by Flemish artists working in London. We are grateful to Dr. Edward Town of the Yale Center for British Art for suggesting the artist was very likely active in the circle of Gerlach Flicke, and for drawing notable comparisons between the handling of Callard’s face and hands with a portrait of William Hewett on loan at the Museum of London, and a portrait of Alice Barnham and her two sons in the Berger Collection, Denver. Other, more general comparisons can be made to Hans Eworth’s portrait of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu (1528 – 1592) of 1569, in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and a portrait of Edward Hastings, Baron Hastings of Loughborough (1512/15 – 1572), c. 1555, by an unknown English hand, previously with the Weiss Gallery, also now at the NPG.


[1] We are grateful to Janet Grant of the Royal College of Arms for deducing that Ralph as a younger brother of Thomas Callard, would have been born circa 1530, allowing thirty years for each generation of the family: ‘Ralph’s brother Thomas was buried in 1585 and the latter’s son Richard died in 1618 when his own son Thomas Callard was aged 30 and more and so born at the latest in 1588. This would suggest that Richard Callard was born c.1558 and his father Thomas who died in 1585 in c.1528 if you allow thirty years for a generation. Ralph as a younger brother of Thomas Callard would have been born perhaps in the 1530s.’ (from an email to F. Evans, at the Weiss Gallery, 1/11/17).

[2] Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons, 'General history: Families removed since 1620', in Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire (London, 1822), pp. clxxiii-ccxxv. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/magna-britannia/vol6/clxxiii-ccxxv [accessed 6 February 2018].

[3] Thomas Westcote, A View of Devonshire in MDCXXX: With a Pedigree of Most of Its Gentry, p. 582.

[4] The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Herald's Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620, Volume 1, pp. 1-452 (Google snippet: p 127, accessed Jan. 23, 2016). Elizabeth Southcott’s great-grandfather, Nicholas Southcott, had married Jane, daughter and heir of Edmund Pury of Chudleigh, a connection of which the family were evidently proud, for later in 1564 when the Callard arms were recorded at the Heralds’ Visitation of that County, they had added four additional quarters of which the last quarter for Pury was was Argent on a Fess Sable between three Martlets also Sable three Mullets Or.  

[5] A similar renaissance hat badge of John the Baptist c. 1525 can be seen in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, museum no. 473-1873. See: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O114842/hat-badge-unknown, accessed 07/02/18

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