Last Friday night, I felt like going to a museum. Looking at my list of Museum Lates in London and the relevant museums’ websites, I went for the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (until 22 February 2015) at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG). After the photographic exhibition, I thought I might as well visit ‘The Real Tudors’, a special display of works from the NPG permanent collection complemented by loans and results from the research project ‘Making Art in Tudor Britain’.
Thought I would share a few fun and interesting anecdotes on the Tudor monarchs, who reigned over England from 1485 to 1603:
– Henry VII was the first Tudor monarch.
– He was reputed to be stingy.
– He looked older than his age.
– THE Tudor, known for his six marriages.
– He became king at 17 years old.
– He was described as a handsome guy (really?), tall and athletic – judge for yourself…
– He became king at… nine years old.
– As a result, he looks ridiculous in king’s clothes, as demonstrated in his portraits shown in the exhibition.
– The Protestant church developed in England under his reign.
Queen Mary I
– Queen Mary I was the first crowned queen of England.
– She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, whose marriage was annulled.
– She restored Roman Catholicism during her reign.
– Elizabeth I was the child of Henry VIII (again) and Anne Boleyn.
– She had beautiful hands – pay attention to her elongated fingers in her portraits
– Under her reign, England became a maritime power and a country of literary culture.
– She never married.
– For all these reasons, Elizabeth I is my favourite Tudor!
All in all, the NPG exhibition does its job but is best for Tudor and British Monarchy aficionados, less interesting for painting admirers, in my view. The paintings are of varied quality; there are not known painters, only a copy from Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII. ‘The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered’ is displayed at the National Portrait Gallery until 1 March 2015 and will travel to Paris to be the core basis of a larger exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg from 18 March to 19 July 2015.