Saturday, 12 November 2011

Is this the face of Edward II?

The National Portrait Gallery in London has had a recent exhibition entitled 'Crowns and Tiaras'.  I decided to pop in on my last visit to London.  The exhibition was a collection of medieval portraits of kings and queens painted in the Tudor era.  Apparently, in Tudor times, particularly in the reign of Elizabeth 1st, it was 'fashionable' to have a set of portraits of medieval royalty up to and including the Tudors.  The NPG had a complete set on loan.   The picture of Edward II was painted between 1590 and 1610.  Here it is.

These potriats were supposedly based on surviving portraits of royalty.  And yet this portrait of Edward II carries the warning -

The inscription on this portrait is later and wrongly inscribed with the name 'Edvardvus'. The facial characteristic and costume conform to other known portraits of Henry III.

I must say, it looks nothing like the beautiful effigy of Edward II on his tomb.  The 'graffitti' on Edward's wife is the result of 18th century choirboys!

It seems the Tudors painted an idealised version of Edward II based on Henry III.   If it's any consolation, the portrait of Anne Boleyn contained in the set is pretty awful as well.  Anne Boleyn was always included in these sets because of course she was the mother of Elizabeth 1st.  Just look at the difference.