Wednesday, 25 July 2012

London' National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery will have a sizable role in my paper for my courses.  They house a large collection of Tudor portraits referred to as the The Tudors.  In the gallery are roughly twenty portraits of either actual Tudor Monarchs or individuals who have a strong connection to the Tudor monarchies; an example would be Thomas Cromwell.  All of the paintings are prominently displayed in beautiful frames which do not take away from the image itself.  Seeing them in person leaves a viewer awestruck at the brilliant color that is still as bright and bold as it was back then.  I was also surprised at the massive size of one portrait of Henry VIII in particular.  It is a full-length portrait, the first of its kind, of Henry standing in his legendary stance.    The picture is absolutely huge and intimidating; literally just like the actual man himself.  Two of my personal favorites were of Elizabeth and Catherine Parr, Henry’s sixth and final wife.   All of the portraits were great to see.  Since I am a notorious fan of all things Tudor seeing the portraits of so many actual people that I have read so much about was personally exciting for me; very exciting.  

I have never really visited art museums in the past so it is quite mind-blowing that I have now visited two of most prominent art museums in the world; The Britain's National Gallery and the Louvre. Visiting such great art can be intimidating and overwhelming.  I cannot help but feel that I did not spend enough time admiring the actual artwork.  How do you properly visit an art museum? I feel a bit ashamed that I did not appreciate it all more while I was there.  However that only provides me with more reasons to go back to London....which of course I am all for!   

Here's s the art I saw with my own two eyes!

This is Elizabeth I's coronation portrait. 
                                                    Queen Elizabeth I, by Unknown English artist, late 16th - early 17th century (circa 1559) - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

The portrait below is very important because it is the first full-length portrait of a monarch.  It was painted by Hans Holbien.  He was Henry's favorite painter and painted several portraits for the family during his lifetime. 
                                                              King Henry VIII; King Henry VII, by Hans Holbein the Younger, circa 1536-1537 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

One of my personal favorites in the Tudor Gallery. For a long time it was thought to be a portrait of Lady Jane Grey but is in fact a portrait of Catherine Parr.  It is my favorite because when I saw it the bluish-green background immediately sucked me in. The detail that can be seen in the gown is insane.  So much effort and talent went in to making this gorgeous image of Catherine.  From what I have read about her she made vast efforts to bring together and reconnect the broken family of Henry VIII.  It is also said that it is because of Catherine's influence that Mary and Elizabeth were put back in to the royal line of succession. 
                                                            Catherine Parr, attributed to Master John, circa 1545 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

This is known as the 'Ditchley Portrait'.  It is breathtaking.  It also clearly symbolizes a lot.  If you notice the background there is both a sunny and stormy sky.  She is standing on top of a map of England.  Elizabeth reigned for quite a long time.  She did witness stormy events during her reign such as several plots to overthrow her from Mary Queen of Scots, religious turmoil, and the ever famous Spanish Armada.  She brought her country to victory and ruled over England with a mothering hand. 
                                                  Queen Elizabeth I ('The Ditchley portrait'), by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, circa 1592 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Take some time to appreciate some of the art!

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