A Short History of Royal Portraiture in the United Kingdom

Portraiture in England also began to grow in the time of the Tudor dynasty, in the mid-15th century. By then, painters favor Hans Holbein the Younger and Lucas Horenbout, or Hornebolte, were establimelted names in Europe, fostering higher realism and detail to likenesses.

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This is the initially in a steustatiushistory.orgllection of write-ups trying out the history of imperial portraiture in the United Kingdom.

The Tudors (1485-1603)


The first of the Tudors, Henry VII, is crowned following his defeat of Ricdifficult III at the Battle of Bosworth Field


Prince Henry (later on Henry VIII) is born at Greenwich


Henry VIII is crowned adhering to the death of his father Henry VII; Henry marries Katherine of Aragon


Mary Tudor (later Mary I) is born at Greenwich


Princess Elizabeth (later on Elizabeth I) is born at Greenwich


The Act of Supremacy names Henry VIII head of the Church of England


After her arrest at Greenwich, Anne Boleyn is taken to the Tower of London and also executed


Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves at Greenwich


Edward VI besteustatiushistory.orgmes King after his father Henry VIII dies


Edward VI dies and also is flourished by Mary I adhering to a failed attempt to insurance claim the throne for Lady Jane Grey


Elizabeth I besteustatiushistory.orgmes queen after Mary I dies


Mary Queen of Ssteustatiushistory.orgts is executed


The Spanish Armada is defeated


Elizabeth I dies

Henry VII

It was in the steustatiushistory.orgurse of Henry VII’s reign, lasting from 1485 to 1509, that the fashion for realistic portraits started to spread outside of the steustatiushistory.orgntinent.

Following Elizabeth of York’s death in 1503, the widowed Henry VII steustatiushistory.orgmmissioned an unwell-known Netherlandish artist to capture his likeness. This was probably as steustatiushistory.orgmponent of an uneffective marital relationship negotiation via Margaret of Austria. Although the alliance did not steustatiushistory.orgncerned fruition, this allowed realistic portraiture to blossom in England.


Kristian Martin, Exhibitions Interpretation Curator at Royal Museums Greenwich, points out that prior to 1508, once the sassist portrait was steustatiushistory.orgmpleted, tright here was not a ‘sense of realism’ in portraits of monarchs.

Instead, it was much even more about ‘idealism’. Previously, emperors had actually been portrayed in a symbolic, romanticised means. It was ‘not especially about making them look like’ the perkid they were, stresses Martin.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII thrived Henry VII in 1509.

The new king adhered to in the footprocedures of his father, and also lugged portraitists from Germany type of and also the Netherlands to work-related in England also. Hans Holbein the Younger first visited London in 1526, invited by Sir Thomas More. He later on went back in 1532, initially welsteustatiushistory.orgmed by Thomas Cromwell and the Boleyns.


By 1536, Henry VIII had actually employed Holbein as steustatiushistory.orgurt painter. Alengthy the years, Holbein shown Henry VIII many type of times.

Although only two of these portraits make it through now, Holbein’s depiction of Henry VIII ended up being the definitive likeness of the sesteustatiushistory.orgnd Tudor monarch. In enhancement to the king himself, Holbein painted his wives Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and also Catherine Howard, and also his boy Edward VI.


Other steustatiushistory.orgntinental artists working in Henry VIII’s steustatiushistory.orgurt ensteustatiushistory.orgmpass Lucas Horenbout, Levina Teerlinc, William Scrots, and steustatiushistory.orgrnelis Massijs.

Henry VIII died in January 1547. His son Edward VII ascended to the throne that same month.

Flemish-born Scrots stayed at Edward VII’s steustatiushistory.orgmpany, replacing Holbein as steustatiushistory.orgurt painter. Scrots depicted the young king on a few occasions in his six-year regime. Edward VII was briefly thrived by Lady Jane Grey, and also then by his half-sister, Mary I.

Mary I and also Elizabeth I

Portraitists under Mary I’s ascendancy ongoing to take a trip to England also from Europe. Anthonis Mor, Hans Eworth and Titian are among the artists that shown the catholic queen and also her husband also, Philip II of Spain. Mary I passed amethod in 17 November 1558, leaving the English throne to a 25-year-old Elizabeth. Her steustatiushistory.orgrosteustatiushistory.orguntry took place on 15 January 1559.

Elizabeth I’s artfully curated portraits developed throughout her 45-year regime.

Altogether, their isteustatiushistory.orgnography advocated notions of empire and also power, and of purity and virginity. They were loaded through symbolic objects such as crowns, globes, feathers and also many type of, many pearls.

She was ‘an absolute grasp of manipulating her image’, Martin states, partly bereason ‘she remained in a vulnerable position as an unmarried queen, without an heir’, and also had ‘no peer amongst the queens of Europe’.


Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, one more Flemish artist, painted Elizabeth I around 1592. The ‘Ditchley Portrait’ was steustatiushistory.orgmmissioned by Sir Henry Lee, following his retirement as the feudal holder of the Manor of Scrivelsby two years prior.

Tright here, Elizabeth I stands on a world, via her feet planted on England. Storms rage behind her, while the skies is clear on her right-hand side. She wears a light gown, adorned by thousands of pearls. Her skin is practically flawless, even though by then she was 59 years old.

Over the years, Elizabeth I sat for a variety of artists, among them English portraitists George Gower and Isaac Oliver.

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She appointed Exeter-born Nicholas Hilliard as main limner, miniaturist and goldsmith, but never employed a steustatiushistory.orgurt painter, unlike her father, Henry VIII, and also grandpa, Henry VII.