National Portrait Gallery announces largest ever display of Tudor monarchs

By James Murray | 11 June 2014

The National Portrait Gallery yesterday announced an unusual new exhibition, pairing portraits of Tudor monarchs with everyday items

Elizabeth I, by an unknown artist
Elizabeth I, by an unknown artist© National Portrait Gallery, London
The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered will feature a number of highly significant loans, as well as pieces from the Gallery’s collection, making it the most complete display of Tudor monarchs to date.

Dr Tarnya Cooper, Chief Curator of the National Portrait Gallery, said the special display would unite some of the most important portraits of all the Tudor monarchs, revealing how paintings were made and changed.

The exhibition is set to include the Gallery’s oldest portrait, of Henry VII, as well as some fascinating rarely seen personal objects, such as Elizabeth I’s locket ring, loaned from the Prime Minister’s country residence, Chequers.

Even the elusive Lady Jane Grey will be represented by an Elizabethan commemorative portrait.

An added level of interest is provided by the results of the ongoing Making Art in Tudor Britain project, which is currently in its fifth year.

The project team includes scientists, independent painting conservators and art historians who have been using x-radiography and infrared reflectography to reveal artists’ preparatory marks, among other secrets of each painting’s date, technique and production.

In total the project will cost £500,000 over seven years, provided both by the Gallery itself and a long list of private donors.

It has also been announced that a specially commissioned app will allow visitors to access this research within the display space, while further details will be available in a book accompanying the exhibit, as well as a dedicated website.

Following its London run, The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered will go on to form the core of a larger exhibition organised in partnership with Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, in 2015.

  • The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered is at the National Portrait Gallery, London from September 12 2014 – March 1 2015.

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Mary I, 1554, by Hans Eworth
Mary I, by Hans Eworth© Society of Antiquaries of London
Mary I, by Hans Eworth
Mary I, by Hans Eworth© National Portrait Gallery, London
Edward VI, 1547, by an unknown artist
Edward VI, by an unknown artist© National Portrait Gallery, London
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