Gower, George (DNB00)

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GOWER, GEORGE (fl. 1575–1585), sergeant-painter, may with some probability be identified with George Gower, son of George Gower, and grandson of Sir John Gower of Stittenham, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Goldsborough, and was ancestor of the present ducal house of Sutherland (Glover, Visitation of Yorkshire, ed. by J. Foster). At Milton House, Northamptonshire, the seat of Earl Fitzwilliam, there is preserved a portrait of him (wrongly named Thomas Gower) painted by himself in 1579, which was engraved by J. Basire, and published in Gough's ‘Parochial History of Castor’ (supplement to Rev. Kenneth Gibson's Commentary upon Part of the Fifth Journey of Antoninus through Britain) in 1819. The coat-of-arms on the picture leads to his identification, and the inscription informs us that Gower took to painting in middle life after a somewhat unprofitable youth. In 1584 he was sergeant-painter to the queen, and received a patent, granting him a monopoly of the privilege to ‘make or cause to be made all and all maner of purtraicts and pictuers of our person phisiognomy and proporcon of our bodye in oyle cullers upon bourdes or canvas, or to graue the same in copper, or to cutt the same in woode or to printe the same beinge cutt in copper or woode or otherwise,’ &c., with the exception of Nicholas Hilliard, who was allowed to make portraits of the queen ‘in small compasse in lymnynge only and not otherwise’ (Brit. Mus. Cott. Chart, iv. 26). Gower probably did not hold the office long, as shortly afterwards it was in other hands.

[Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. 237; Gent. Mag. 1807, lxxvii. 511; authorities quoted in the text.]

L. C.