Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Niva G. Nichols. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
This Portrait of Lady Dorothea, the wife of Sir Francis Cokayne of Derbyshire, has an intriguing provenance. Sir Francis was prominent in the court of Henry VIII and a close friend of Sir Thomas More and Erasmus. Holbein, who frequently painted the aristocracy of England, became a guest of Sir Francis. One day while hunting on land owned by Sir Francis, Holbein was accused of poaching and arraigned before the local magistrate, who happened to be Sir Francis himself. In retribution for his alleged crime, Holbein was ordered to paint the portrait of Lady Dorothea.
The painting hung at Ashbourne Hall, the ancestral estate of the Cokayne family until 1671. That year the family, impoverished by continuous support of the Crown, sold the estate to the Boothby family who remained there until 1847. When the estate was purchased in 1847 by George Copestake, a descendent of the Cokayne family, he gave the painting to his son, John Cokayne Copestake, who brought the painting to the United States when he settled in Illinois in 1869. The painting was later donated by Niva G. Nichols, an Iowa State alumna and a descendant of the Cokayne family.