Painting could be first 'genuine' portrait of Oliver Cromwell's mother

This painting could be the first confirmed artwork which depicts Elizabeth Steward, Oliver Cromwell's mother

This painting could be the first known artwork which depicts Elizabeth Steward, Oliver Cromwell's mother - Credit: Supplied by The Cromwell Museum

A painting that has spent years in a Hertfordshire loft could be the first genuine portrait of Elizabeth Steward - Oliver Cromwell's mother.

The artwork, which dates as far back as 1784, is set to go on display at The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, where MP and English Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell was born in 1599.

Museum curator Stuart Orme said there is a "strong" chance the image is a genuine picture of Ely-born Elizabeth, but more research is needed to firm the identification once and for all.

Mr Orme said: "Over the years, several paintings have been suggested to be of Elizabeth, but most have either been disproven or do not have enough evidence to make a firm identification.

"Whilst we cannot say definitively that this is her yet, the provenance and resemblance to other family members does make a strong case for this being a genuine picture of Oliver Cromwell’s mum."

Stuart Orme of The Cromwell Museum

Stuart Orme of The Cromwell Museum - Credit: The Cromwell Museum

The painting is privately owned. It was stored in a St Albans attic for several years before it re-emerged.

There are currently no authenticated paintings of Oliver Cromwell's parents, but this eighteenth-century artwork pre-dates other work which could depict Elizabeth Steward.

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The portrait's owner approached The Cromwell Museum in the hope that the work could be put on public display.

It was previously owned but the Earls of Sandwich - a family closely linked with the Cromwells who lived at Hinchingbrooke House.

This painting could be the first confirmed artwork which depicts Elizabeth Steward, Oliver Cromwell's mother

This painting could be the first known artwork which depicts Elizabeth Steward, Oliver Cromwell's mother - Credit: Supplied by The Cromwell Museum

Elizabeth was born in Ely in 1565.

She married Robert Cromwell of Huntingdon in 1591 and gave birth to Oliver in 1599.

Oliver Cromwell led the charge against the monarchy during the English Civil War.

His army defeated King Charles I in 1649 and Cromwell became Lord Protector until his death in 1658.

Elizabeth died in 1654, one year after Cromwell became the head of state, and she was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Her body was exhumed in 1660s when the monarchy was restored, and re-buried in a nearby mass grave.

The painting which could become the first confirmed portrait of Elizabeth Steward is on display at The Cromwell Museum, Grammar School Walk, Huntingdon until the end of June.

Admission is free, with full details online: https://www.cromwellmuseum.org/