Of all the dynasties that have succeeded one another on the English throne, the Tudors, who reigned between 1485 and 1603, are certainly one of the most popular. Apart from the legend largely inspired by their private lives, the sovereigns left a deep imprint on the history of the kingdom: politically, by giving it a strategic position in Europe; spiritually, by breaking away from the Catholic Church; and culturally, by welcoming the Renaissance. Artists from Italy, Flanders and Germanic countries entered the service of the court to meet the new need for Royal portraits. It was at the confines of all these influences, in a country undergoing great upheavals, that the original forms of the English Renaissance were developed. This exhibition is the first in France on the subject.
This exhibition is organised by the Réunion des musées nationaux in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Curators : Charlotte Bolland, project curator for the Making Art in Tudor Britain project at the NPG, Tarnya Cooper, chief curator at the NPG and Cécile Maisonneuve, PhD in art history, art advisor to the Rmn-GP
Scenography : Hubert Le Gall
Visit Museums Review by Larissa Woolf, Editor
The Tudors – Musee du Luxembourg, Paris, 18th March – 19th July, 2015
If you are intending to go to Paris this is an exhibition that is well worth a visit and is also located in one of the prettiest gardens in the city, in the sixth district; next to the Senat. The exhibition looks back at the history of this very important era in English history and the legends associated with many of its rulers, be they kings or queens. The art and craftsmanship will take your breath away.
The Tudors reigned over England throughout the 16th century and became some of the most important and famous rulers in English history. The founder of the dynasty was Henry VII and his rule put an end to thirty years of civil war. More importantly his marriage to Elizabeth of Lancaster united the two fighting houses – the Yorks and the Lancasters – establishing peace throughout the realm. At the beginning of the exhibition there is a square panel, created between 1550-1600, symbolising this union with the association of red and white roses and a well-known portrait of an aged but wise King Henry VII painted by a Welsh art guild. Of course Henry VII was also famous for being the father of one of the most flamboyant kings in English history; namely Henry VIII. The exhibition includes many striking portraits of this lion king, including an early portrait painted by the illustrious Joos Van Cleve. There is even a full armour, dating back to 1520, which he would have worn for the many tournaments he attended in the early part of his reign. Staring at it one really gets the sense of the strength and size – both physical and symbolical – of this flamboyant ruler. There is a wealth of information made available not only from paintings and art work but coins and books as well – many beautiful sixteenth century original books and manuscript are on display, in amazing condition. History comes alive as we, for example, read about a treaty made in Westminster between Henry and the French king, Francis 1st, for the restitution of Boulogne. Details of Henry’s personal life and his many wives feature prominently – in fact one of the first paintings we see in the room was painted in 1835 and depicts one of Henry’s more unfortunate wives, Anne Boleyn, depicted in opulent misery in the Tower. Not surprisingly we learn that this painting is one of the most famous and influential paintings of its time and inspired a generation of artists. The private and public lives of the Tudors become enmeshed in history, and we see how many events in these ruler’s lives had huge effects throughout the kingdom – Henry VIII breaking away from the Catholic Church so as to marry Anne Boleyn being one of the most significant.
Splendid portraits of Edward VI and Mary 1st are on display and of course the iconic and brilliant queen, Elizabeth 1st is explored in great detail. A whole room is set up for this infamous daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who came to the throne in 1558 at the age of 25. During the long years of her reign the kingdom was not only restored to the church of England but it became a great maritime power and important literary centre. The paintings of this period in British history that are on view are amazing such as ‘The Armada portrait’ depicting a regal, passionate and stunning queen. One gets a real sense of history and of the glory of the Elizabethan era.
Go and visit ‘The Tudors’ – it is a show you must not miss!
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