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.



7 comments:

Kathryn Warner said...

I really don't like that portrait supposedly of Edward! Love his effigy though. :)

Jules Frusher said...

The portrait has a droopy eyelid, which was supposedly a characteristic of Edward I. So I don't think (especially looking at his effigy), that the portrait represents Edward II at all. The effigy is probably the closest we can get to Ed's appearance, especially as medieval representations of people were pretty basic, to say the least, and the portrait, as we know it today, had not really been invented (as far as I know!)!

Anerje said...

I don't suppose it occurred to the Tudor portrait painters to check out the effigy, eh Kathryn? Edward just looks so old, and, erm, not like I would imagine Edward to look.

Hi Jules - It's so frustrating that there are no portraits from the time of Edward II. I'm just desperate for a Piers' portrait! as no doubt you are for Hugh.

Kathryn Warner said...

Oh, I so wish we had some way of knowing what Piers and Hugh looked like. So annoying of chroniclers not to describe their appearance!

Anerje said...

we do know that Piers was elegant and handsome:> He was bound to be!

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, if you look at the first portray of Anne Boleyn, you may wonder why Henry called Anna of Cleves for horse-faced. Anne Boleyn looks very horse faced on that one. ;)

Anerje said...

LOL Gabriele - it's an awful portrait, isn't it? I don't think Elizabeth 1st would have been impressed!