Thursday, 22 September 2011

Grisaille portraits of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York, Queen consort of England

King Henry VII Tudor
These portraits were a pair and were almost certainly conceived as part of a decorative scheme. Painted in grisaille, they were intended to look like statues in niches. This type of trompe I'oeuil was already well established in England and a prominent example is the set of three grisailles of classical statues which Kneller painted in around 1719 for the villa of his friend, Alexander Pope, at Twickenham.

These portraits of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York appear to have been adapted from existing images in the Royal Collection. There was an increased awareness and interest in the history of the monarchy in England in the early eighteenth century resulting in a demand for portrait of Kings and Queens - part of a mood of antiquarianism that reached its apotheosis with Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill and Beckford's at Fonthill, in which paintings and works of art were housed in these deliberately historicised contexts. Vertue used the same two prototypes for his 1732 engraving of Henry and Elizabeth for the folio edition of Rapin and Tindal's History of England.

* J. Douglas Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English Baroque Portrait, 1983, Nos. 9-ll, p.89.
* Philip Mould Ltd, 29 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NA.

No comments:

Post a Comment