|Henry VIII - Hans Holbein the Younger - 1540-50
The exhibition was interesting, but in hindsight, I wish that I had known then as much as I do now. Since the visit, I've been having a bit of a Tudor-fest!
|Henry VIII - as above...
Predictably, Henry VIII is presented with sizeable regal paws, gripping onto all and any of the glorious trappings to which he believed he had a divine right as God's representative as King of England. Of grand stature, Henry struck an imposing figure and would use all the means at hand to strike anything or anyone who stood in his way. His regard is unflinching as head of the Tudor dynasty, having succeeded from his father, Henry VII. Sure of his position and power, he stares out at us, some 500 years on, with a certain air of defiance and belligerence. The same could not be said of Henry VII...
|Henry VII - 1505
|Edward VI - Master John - 1547
|Robert Dudley - Elizabeth's faithful friend and supposed suitor - cerca 1564
|Anne of Cleves - Hans Holbein -
|Anne of Cleves - Hans Holbein the Younger - 1539
|The Ambassadors - 1533
|Wife number six: Catherine Parr - 1545
Henry had instigated the tumultous break with the Roman Catholic Church in order to override papal authority and thus enforce the supremacy of the English Crown; himself. All of this was a means to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon that had borne no male heir to the throne and to free him to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn. In order to get his 'hands on the girl' in holy matrimony, Henry had created the Ecclesia Anglicana - The Church of England - and in so doing had set in motion a set of events that would have wide-spread and long-lasting repercussions, and not just for England. In the wake of this turmoil came the supposedly legitimate dissolution of the monasteries and the seizure of their assets, entailing extensive land-grabs under the jurisdiction of the Crown, and the mass destruction of ecclesiastic art and architecture of great beauty. Henry's hands shaped England on every level, and were certainly dirty and bloodied. His increasingly irascible, tyrannical nature led to the death and torture of many of those nearest to him, along with anyone guilty of treason or heresy, interchangeble crimes of lèse-majesté. Suspicion, secrecy, fear and furtiveness were rife and the attendant blood-letting found little respite over the Tudor years as each successive monarch left their mark, and sought to impose their interpretation of English faith. Bloody Mary duly merited her name, yet even the subsequent decades after her demise seemed to be seeped in blood, in spite of the finery and flamboyance of the Golden Age.
|Coronation of Elizabeth I - Copy of lost original cerca 1559
Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, was betrothed to her country alone, mother to her subjects, and as holy matriarch led England into new, unchartered, virgin terrirory. The regal image reflects this, with symbols of virginal purity and power - gold, pearls and moons.
|Rubies and pearls...
|Elizabeth's orb and ermine...
|The Phoenix Portrait - Nicholas Hilliard - 1575
|The Darnley Portrait - 1575 - Zuccari
With Elizabeth, died an era punctuated by plots, political intrigue, personality cults, paranoia, persecution, adultery, blind allegiance, illicit alliances, lust, liaisons dangereuses, marital disarray, murder, megalomania, mass destruction, treason, tyranny, treachery, cheating and torture - most of which arose around one man's supposed religious convictions and his need to have the upper hand.
|Armada Portrait - George Gower - 1588
|Ditchley Portrait - Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger - 1592
|Robert Devereux (?) and my not-very-regal hands!