Exit Ussher, enter Brownrig:

the tale of a portrait in the Plume Library, Maldon

Among the paintings bequeathed to his library on his death, Thomas Plume (1630-1704) included one which was for many years described as being a likeness of James Ussher, archbishop of Armagh (1581-1656). However, in October 2008 two members of the Plume Library staff, cataloguer Ian Kidman and conservator Tony King, saw a near-exact likeness of this picture in Pembroke College, Cambridge, where it was said to be of Ralph Brownrig (or Brownrigg), bishop of Exeter (1592-1659).1 Brownrig was a scholar and subsequently a fellow of Pembroke.

The Plume Librarian, Mrs Erica Wylie, took up the matter with the National Portrait Gallery, who confirmed that the Plume Library portrait is certainly that of Ralph Brownrig. We are left, therefore, with two questions: why did Plume own this portrait, and is it possible to say where it may have come from?

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Image courtesy of The Public Catalogue Foundation

Ralph Brownrig image courtesy of The Public Catalogue Foundation