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People used to think that it was Edward Hyde, also known as Lord Cornbury, a cousin of Queen Anne of Great Britain who appointed him governor of New York and New Jersey in the early 1700s. Popular history says that Lord Cornbury liked to dress in his wife's clothes, not just in private, but strolling down Broadway, in the state assembly and receiving official visitors. His explanation was that he should dress like a woman because he represented a woman, his cousin Queen Anne. His political enemies called him half-witted and a drunken fool; the public called him a tyrant and an embezzler and unfit to be governor. Eventually he was removed from office. For many years scholars said this was Lord Cornbury, but recent research raises doubts. It may be that Lord Cornbury's enemies started the rumor that he was the subject of the painting, and it was spread by satirists who wanted to make fun of him. The painting might actually be Queen Anne herself, or some other unidentified member of the English aristocracy. What we do know is that sometimes what we think of as history can change, depending on who's telling the story.


This is a very curious portrait—Is it a woman with a five o-clock shadow? Or a man in woman's clothing? Scholars have different opinions, and you're entitled to your own. But here's the background on the painting.

Creative: Tronvig Group