Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 26 March 2023

Updating a portrait of King Henry VIII

The Daily Telegraph reports how a research project has shown by using an x-ray how an early portrait of the youthful King Henry VIII was extensively repainted in 1519 to depict the significant changes in his appearance. He is shown with a bulkier torso, more elaborate clothing and, most obviously, the beard he grew to match that of King Francis I of France.

The extensive re-working of the painting suggests an owner who was anxious to show their loyalty to the King as he now appeared and not as he had been at the time of his accession a decade earlier.

Today we are used to computer enhanced images and photography has a long tradition of air-brushing, but the discovery of this sixteenth century equivalent appears to be quite a revelation to scholars.

I came upon an online article from 2015 about King Henry’s appearance as depicted in portraits and recorded by contemporaries. It shows his evolution from an athletic youth at his accession to the overweight familiar figure of the monarch who died aged fifty five.

That article from the Tudors Dynasty website can be seen at Excavating The Face of Young Henry VIII


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everyone at the time claimed Henry VIII was handsome as a young man, when he first came to the throne for example. But looking at that X-rayed picture I find it hard to agree. Maybe in part it is an artifact of the overlaid images, but to me he looks as mean as a rattlesnake!

John R Ramsden