Tudors

Art, Painting
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 (D’après Hans Holbein le Jeune, 'Henri VIII' (détail), 1540-1550 / © West Sussex, Petworth House, National Trust)
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D’après Hans Holbein le Jeune, 'Henri VIII' (détail), 1540-1550 / © West Sussex, Petworth House, National Trust
 (Maître dit «Master John», 'Marie Ire', 1544 / © National Portrait Gallery, Londres)
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Maître dit «Master John», 'Marie Ire', 1544 / © National Portrait Gallery, Londres
 (Associé à Nicholas Hilliard, 'Elisabeth Ire', dit 'Le Portrait au phénix', vers 1575 / © National Portrait Gallery, Londres)
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Associé à Nicholas Hilliard, 'Elisabeth Ire', dit 'Le Portrait au phénix', vers 1575 / © National Portrait Gallery, Londres
 (Hans Holbein le Jeune, 'Edouard VI', 1538 / © National Gallery of Art, Washington)
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Hans Holbein le Jeune, 'Edouard VI', 1538 / © National Gallery of Art, Washington
 (Artiste anglais, 'Elisabeth Ire', vers 1600 / © National Portrait Gallery, Londres)
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Artiste anglais, 'Elisabeth Ire', vers 1600 / © National Portrait Gallery, Londres

Family drama, throne politics, religious quarrels, beheadings and sumptuous clothing ensured that the Tudor dynasty was anything but dull. This exhibition by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery looks beyond stiff-backed royal portraits to explore how the fact and fiction of the dynasty have merged in our collective cultural consciousness – so compelling are tales of Henry VIII, his six unfortunate wives, Bloody Mary and The Virgin Queen that the Tudor dynasty has been a rich source of drama for writers and directors ever since. 

There's an impressive collection of Renaissance portraits by Nicholas Hilliard, Joos van Cleve, Hans Holbein and more, set alongside film and book extracts that emphasise the dynasty’s legendary status through the ages. Everyone from Shakespeare to Gioacchino Rossini and Shekhar Kapur seems to have tried their hand at fictionalising the family dramas, and the Tudors captured the French imagination too, in the writings of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas and paintings by Paul Delaroche. This is the first exhibition about the dynasty in France, and it highlights a mutual fascination and power play between French and English royals: from the friendly rivalry between Francois I and Henry VIII to Elizabeth I’s cordial relationship with Catherine de Médicis as the two countries’ foreign policies drew closer and closer together.

By: Maria Hagan

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