Edward Harrison May, Lady Jane Grey Going to her Execution

Edward Harrison May: Lady Jane Grey Going to her Execution (1864) Oil on canvas
Title
Lady Jane Grey Going to her Execution
Date
1864
Medium
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Bequest of Charles Knox Smith
Dimensions
59" x 80"

In this painting Lady Jane Grey—Queen of England for only nine days—is on her way to her beheading. Calm and composed, she hands her devotional writings to the Constable of the Tower as a remembrance. An elderly nurse leads the glowing heroine to her death. 

When King Edward VI, the only son of Henry VIII, lay dying, he tried to secure the legacy of his father’s English Reformation by nominating Jane, his Protestant cousin, as heir to the throne. She was fifteen. 

Four days after Edward’s death on June 6, 1553, Lady Jane Grey became Queen of England. But on learning of the king’s death, Mary Tudor—Edward’s sister and an ardent Catholic—consolidated her political and military forces and rode into London. She claimed the crown for herself and executed Lady Jane Gray.  

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