Portrait of a Lady, Possibly Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury in a Dress

MAKER:
Artist

Unknown

DATE:
c. 1705–1750
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General Description

This unusual, crudely painted portrait might be a painted example of historical slander. England's Queen Anne gave Edward Hyde the governorship of New York and New Jersey in 1701 for switching his political loyalties to her from her father, James II, in the English revolution of 1688. During his seven years in the colonies, Lord Cornbury was a deeply unpopular leader. His detractors claimed he not only took bribes and embezzled money but also dressed in women's clothing—supposedly to symbolize his authority as the Queen's representative. While modern historians largely discount the allegations of cross-dressing, Cornbury's reputation persisted for at least fifty years after he returned to England-which might account for the imprecise date of this painting.