Friday, 10 June 2011

Hot or Not: the six wives exhibition of Hampton Court

The Tudors King Henry as portrayed by Jonathan Myers and Queen Katherine Parr as portrayed by Joely Richardson
 What did they really looked like during their reign?

Thanks to countless interpretations of Henry VIII's six wives on film we have certain pre-conceived ideas as to what they look like. When the exhibition of Henry's six wives at Hampton Court displayed portraits in 2009, it was of the ones below. Compared to the authentic portraits -- these seem contemporary and make some of the wives look ugly! What's your take? Would Henry really marry these women if they were so plain and ugly? Are these really true to life portraits?

King Henry VIII c.1520
At the time of Henry's marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon, Henry was still a young man; fit. By the time of Queen Katherine Parr, Henry looked like --

King Henry VIII c.1545
-- The Queens of Henry VIII --
The Tudors Queen Katherine of Aragon portrayed by Maria Doyle Kennedy
Katherine of Aragon by an unknown artist, 1530s.
The Tudors Queen Anne Boleyn as portrayed by Natalie Dormer
Anne Boleyn by an unknown artist, possibly contemporary.
The Tudors Queen Jane Seymour as portrayed by Annabelle Wallis
Jane Seymour by one of the ‘Cast Shadow Workshop’, c 1536.
The Tudors Queen Anne of Cleves as portrayed by Joss Stone
Anne of Cleves by Barthel Bruyn, 1530s.
The Tudors Queen Katherine Howard as portrayed by Tazmin Merchant
Katherine Howard, probably a copy of a contemporary work by Holbein. This painting is interesting because it was originally identified as being of Katherine Howard but then this was rejected in the last century and it was decided that it either depicted Henry VIII’s niece Lady Margaret Douglas or Jane Seymour’s sister, Elizabeth, who married Cromwell's son. However, opinion would appear to have swung in the opposite direction thanks to its close resemblance to the only known likenesses of Katherine.
The Tudors Queen Katherine Parr as portrayed by Joely Richardson
Katherine Parr by an unknown artist, probably contemporary. Recently identified by biographer Susan James, author of "Catherine Parr: Henry VIII's Last Love". Not all are in agreement as to if this is really Queen Katherine.

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