Royal pictures have always symbolized more than just beautiful depictions of Great Halls and bedrooms. They were used as political or commercial propaganda tactics during the time.
Here, I examine how English royal portraits have been discreetly put on walls. But perhaps strategically, to build alliances, marry, and scare away competitors. Show off your wealth and power while battling your fears.
ARRANGING MARRIAGES AND ALLIANCES WITH THE HELP OF ROYAL PORTRAITS
Despite the fact that religion and relationships were the most important variables in most planned weddings. Royals were fascinated by the appearances of potential wives. Back then, you couldn’t use a dating app or make a Zoom call. However, it took a long time to meet and see whether there was a spark (not that it frequently mattered). You’d have to bring a beleaguered foreign princess or duchess to England.
This might take months, especially if the variable seasons, sickness outbreaks, and the turbulent English Channel are to blame.
Instead, they relied on the sending and receiving of images and diplomats’ stories. Who, let’s be honest, can be exaggerated. Things did not always go as planned. Sometimes the “goods” matched the description, and sometimes they didn’t.
While Anne of Cleves allegedly did not match her picture. Will be remembered as unattractive. “Flanders mare” was selected to marry Henry VIII. Although there is no evidence that he said anything, the marriage clearly did not work out.
COMMUNICATION WITH FRIENDS AND ENEMIES VIA PORTRAIT
In addition to being about looking nice or finding a suitable love match, royal pictures featured secret meanings or symbols. Aside from thinking, “Oh, that apparel must have cost a few pounds,” Rulers desired that people believe a specific way about them both at home and abroad.
Rebecca Larson’s outstanding work on the Tudors Dynasty exemplifies this. Where she deconstructs the significance of well-known Queen Elizabeth I images. Some of the words Elizabeth used were rather obvious. She is always seen wearing pearls as a sign of purity and tranquillity. After all, she was supposed to be the virgin Queen.
PAINTINGS PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN POLITICS AND POWER
To begin with, have you ever seen a cheerful royal portrait Not that I recall. Portraits were used to demonstrate money, prestige, and power, especially in the case of males.
The most notable example is Henry VIII’s beautiful gold portrait. As I stood near this in Hampton Court Palace, I could feel a bright beam shining on you. That was glowing. The sleeves and jewelry stand out as beautiful examples of attention to detail. The genius Hans Holbein the Younger captured this detail.
The portrait’s likely 1536 date teaches us a lot. It occurred about the time Anne Boleyn was executed. The dissolution of the monasteries has generated a major religious upheaval. And at a time when Henry had not yet chosen a male heir. You can’t help but suspect that the gleaming gold was motivated by insecurity. An attempt to assert authority by exuding holiness and divinity.
SIZE MATTERED EVERYTHING
But when I visited one of Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse’s great halls. The royal portrait of Charles II shocked me totally. It was massive. The flowing reds, silvers, and whites, including the wig, had strangely taken over the room.
I remember being disappointed with The Mona Lisa when I visited the Louvre. As I whirled around, I asked my hubby, “Is that it?”
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