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Paul Delaroche, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

Key facts
Full title The Execution of Lady Jane Grey
Artist Paul Delaroche
Artist dates 1797 - 1856
Date made 1833
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 246 × 297 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by the Second Lord Cheylesmore, 1902
Inventory number NG1909
Location Room 45
Collection Main Collection
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey
Paul Delaroche

Lady Jane Grey reigned for just nine days as Queen of England following the death of Edward VI in 1553: she was deposed by the faction supporting Edward’s half-sister and heir, Mary Tudor. Tried for treason, the 17-year-old Lady Jane was beheaded at Tower Hill on 12 February 1554.

Delaroche shows the final moments of the blindfolded Lady Jane as she pleads, ‘What shall I do? Where is the block?’ She is being guided towards it by Sir John Brydges, Lieutenant of the Tower. Her outer clothing has already been removed and is gathered in the lap of a lady-in-waiting, who has slumped to the ground. Behind her, a second lady-in-waiting stands facing the wall, unable to watch. To the right, the executioner stands waiting. Using a shallow stage-like space, theatrical lighting and life-size figures, Delaroche plays up the spectacle of the innocent young victim on the brink of martyrdom, compelling us to react to the scene before us.

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