Joan Alleyn (c. 1573-1623) is depicted in fashionable Elizabethan costume, including a black hat, panelled dress and stomacher with floral blackwork embroidery, as well as a pair of fine embroidered gloves. Black clothing was very expensive in the sixteenth century and became a sign of wealth and status.
Joan was the first wife of Edward Alleyn (1566-1626), a popular English actor during the era of Elizabethan theatre and founder of Dulwich College. She is buried in Christ’s Chapel of God’s Gift, next door to Dulwich Picture Gallery. Her tombstone reads: ‘Here lyeth in Hope of Resurrection, the Body of Joane, the religious and loving wife of Edward Alleyn Esqr. Founder of this College, who departed this mortal Life the 28th of June 1623, being in the 51 year of Her Age.’