The first ever exhibition about Henry, Prince of Wales (1594-1612) focuses on a period in British history that was dominated by a prince whose death at a young age precipitated widespread national grief and led eventually to the accession to the throne of his younger brother, Charles I. Marking the four hundredth anniversary of the prince's death, the show features paintings, drawings, miniatures, manuscripts, books, armour and other artefacts associated with Henry, illustrating the artistic and creative community that developed under his patronage. Henry was the first British royal actively to collect European renaissance paintings; he also acquired the first collection of Italian renaissance bronzes in England and assembled the largest and most important library in the land. His patronage of court masques and festivals, architecture and garden design established his court as a rival to the great princely courts of Europe. On display are examples from these collections as well as inlaid armour made for Henry and a selection of manuscript letters and writing exercises in Henry's hand. Other highlights include portraits by Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, masque designs by Inigo Jones, and poetry by Ben Jonson. Exploring Henry's life and image, especially the 'princely' virtues he was said to embody, the exhibition also explores reactions to his death of typhoid in November 1612, shortly before his nineteenth birthday. His death inspired a stream of poetical and musical tributes, published in nearly 50 contemporary volumes. The exhibition will display, for the first time in two centuries, the remains of Prince Henry's funeral effigy with an engraving that shows it lying on his hearse, dressed in his clothes.
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