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Art Diary

The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England

30 September 2022

Under the patronage of the Tudor monarchs, the English court welcomed some of the finest artists in Europe, from Florentine sculptors to Flemish weavers. This exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (10 October–8 January 2023) explores how England’s international standing as a centre for the arts changed during the Tudor era. Ornate works that once adorned the royal residencies are among the objects on display, including The Triumph of Hercules (c. 1540), a gold-woven tapestry, made in Brussels to a design attributed to the workshop of Raphael; it was part of a set, designed for Pope Leo X, of which copies were later made for Henry VIII. Hans Holbein the Younger’s famous portrait Henry VIII (c. 1537) is among several works here that reveal how art was used to represent political power; others include a ‘Sieve Portrait’ of Elizabeth I (1583) by Quentin Metsys the Younger, depicting the Queen carrying a sieve as an emblem of virginity. Commissioned by Henry VIII, a book of psalms by the French scribe and illustrator Jean Mallard is also on display; it includes the King’s handwritten annotations. Find out more from the Met’s website.

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Elizabeth I (The Rainbow Portrait) (c. 1602), attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Photo: © Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, UK/Bridgeman Images; courtesy the Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House

The Triumph of Hercules (c. 1540), woven in Brussels, design attributed to Raphael. Royal Collection Trust. Photo: © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022

Book of Hours of Mary of England, Queen of France (1500–05). Photo: Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon/Jean-Luc Bouchier

Edward VI, King of England (c. 1547–50), attributed to Guillim Scrots. Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, Warwickshire. Photo: Jamie Woodley; © Compton Verney