Teerlinc, Levina (c. 1520–1576)

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Teerlinc, Levina (c. 1520–1576)

Flemish artist who painted miniature portraits in Flanders and at the English court. Born Levina Benninck around 1520 (some sources cite 1515) in Bruges, Flanders (now a part of Belgium); died in 1576 in Stepney, England; daughter of Simon Benninck (a painter of miniatures and book illuminator); married; children: Marcus.

Works attributed to 16th-century miniature portrait painter Levina Teerlinc have been hard to document, but it is documented that she was both well known in her native Flanders and favored at the courts of several English kings and queens. She was born around 1520 in Bruges, the daughter of another miniature painter, and achieved some fame in her own country before migrating to England around 1546 to accept an annuity from the court of Henry VIII. Teerlinc stayed at court for a number of years, working for Edward VI, Mary I , and Elizabeth I , whose portrait she first painted in 1551. She received expensive gifts from royalty, and she and her husband occupied a favored position at court. She became an English subject in 1566 and made her home in Stepney.

Teerlinc was the only Flemish miniature painter known to be at the English court between 1546 and the time of her death in 1576. She was also the most important miniaturist between the death of Hans Holbein the Younger in 1543 and the ascent of her successor, Nicolas Hilliard. Probably because she was a woman, her career was mostly overshadowed by that of Hilliard, who also found success in England. Although some works originally attributed to her have since been assigned to other artists, she probably painted an oval miniature showing an Elizabethan Maundy ceremony, which may have been a present from her to the queen. Other miniatures thought to be from her hand are Portrait of a Young Woman (1549), Katherine, Countess of Hertford, and a portrait of Elizabeth I in her coronation robes that dates to approximately 1559.


Harris, Ann Sutherland, and Linda Nochlin. Women Artists: 1550–1950. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1976.

Sally A. Myers , Ph.D., freelance writer and editor