Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein Exhibition

Currently the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace is running an exhibition of some of the Royal Collection's treasured pieces by Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, Joos van Cleve, Lucas Horenbout, Lucas Cranach and other European artists. The exhibition is made up of over 100 great works (27 of which are by Holbein and include some of his most famous sketches). Admittedly my main attraction to the exhibition was Holbein's works which include sketches of Henry VIII, his family and prominent courtiers, but the other works on display were also fascinating due to the insight that they provide into art in the sixteenth century. The exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to see some of the greatest sixteenth century works that do not often venture out from the depths of the Royal Collection.

I apologise for the light reflections on some of the pictures but it was difficult to avoid as I took the pictures on my phone during my visit to the exhibition.

Holbein sketch of Henry VIII's eldest daughter Princess Mary (later Mary I)  from around 1536.

Copy of Hans Holbein's Whitehall Mural, which depicts from top left clockwise: Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII. The original was painted in 1537 but was destroyed in 1698 by a fire, this copy was painted by Regimus van Leemput.
Close up of the plinth in the Whitehall Mural.
The Latin inscription on the plinth in the Whitehall Mural when translated into English reads as- 'If it pleases you to see the illustrious images of heroes, look on these: no picture ever bore greater. The great debate, competition and great question is whether father or son is the victor. For both, indeed, were supreme.' The whole mural was designed as propaganda to promote the Tudor regime and the original was an imposing image that stood greater than two meters wide and two meters tall. The desired answer to the question posed in the inscription is clear from Henry VIII's dominant position in the picture's foreground and as he is the only figure gazing directly out at the viewer.

King Henri II of France by François Clouet, 1559. (one of my personal favourites)

A selection of miniatures. Centre: Mary Queen of Scots by  François Clouet, 1558. Clockwise from top left: Henry VIII by Lucas Horenbout, 1526-7. François, Dauphin of France by Jean Clouet, 1526. Elizabeth of Valois by François Clouet, 1549. Charles IX of France by François Clouet, 1561. Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond by Lucas Horenbout, 1535-6. Henry VIII by Lucas Horenbout, 1527.

Half of a pair of Henry VIII's Field Spaudlers and Vambraces, which were made in 1544. These are highly decorative and in this instance the reflection of the light gives it an added effect instead of detracting from the image, as a similar effect would have been created when the sun flashed off of it when Henry wore it to joust. 
 These are just a few examples of artifacts in the exhibition, there are many more including sculptures, standing cups, a tapestry, sketches, paintings, woodcuts and books/pamphlets. The exhibition runs until the 14th April and admission costs £9.25 for an adult.

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