Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I
after Anthonis Mor (Antonio Moro)
oil on panel, 1555
3 3/8 in. x 2 1/2 in. (86 mm x 64 mm)
Given by Edward Peter Jones, 1960
Sitterback to top
- Queen Mary I (1516-1558), Reigned 1553-58; daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. Sitter associated with 50 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Anthonis Mor (Antonio Moro) (1516-1575 or 1576), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 17 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This pair of portraits of Mary and Philip are dated 1555 and may have been produced to celebrate their union. It is likely that these images were made in multiple versions, possibly as gifts for courtiers both in England and abroad. Soon after their marriage Mary was thought to be pregnant but by June 1555 this proved untrue, and Philip left England only a few months later.
The likeness of Mary derives from a portrait made by Antonis Mor in 1554. Mor was one of the most accomplished portrait painters in Europe and his painting celebrated Mary as a Habsburg consort as much as an English queen.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Smartify image discovery app
- Bolland, Charlotte; Cooper, Tarnya, The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered, 2014 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12th September 2014 to 1st March 2015), p. 118
- Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 100 Read entry
As the daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, Mary faced years of struggle following the annulment of her parents’ marriage. She maintained her Roman Catholic faith and, after the death of her half-brother Edward VI, she successfully rallied supporters to claim the throne. She became England’s first crowned queen at the age of thirty-seven, adopting the motto ‘Truth, the daughter of time’, and restoring Roman Catholicism across the realm.
Despite widespread fears of foreign rule, one of Mary’s first acts as queen was to accept her cousin Philip II of Spain’s proposal of marriage. These small companion portraits (NPG 4175 and NPG 4174) derive from a portrait of Philip by the Venetian artist Titian that was sent to England, and a portrait of Mary by the Netherlandish artist Anthonis Mor that was commissioned by Philip’s father, Emperor Charles V. Multiple versions of these images could have been made, possibly as gifts for courtiers both in England and abroad. When Mary was thought to have become pregnant soon after the marriage, it seemed as if the Roman Catholic succession was secured. However, it proved to be a phantom pregnancy, and Philip soon left England, returning only briefly in 1557 in order to gather support for war against France.
- Cooper, Tarnya, Elizabeth I & Her People, 2013 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 October 2013 - 5 January 2014), p. 207
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 416
- Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 210
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered (12 September 2014 - 1 March 2015)
Events of 1555back to top
Current affairsBeginning of Queen Mary I's persecution of Protestants. Bishops Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer are denounced as heretics and burned at the stake in Oxford.
Queen Mary suffers a false pregnancy, her husband Philip of Spain leaves England.
Art and scienceRichard Eden publishes The Decades of the Newe Worlde or West India, the first account in English of European exploration in the Americas. The book urges England to establish an empire in union with Spain.
InternationalThe Peace of Augsburg between the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the members of the German Protestant Schmalkaldic League. The treaty gives Lutheranism official status within the empire through a policy of cuius regio, eius religio (whose the region, his the religion).
The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V resigns the government of the Netherlands, Naples, and Milan to his son Philip of Spain, husband of Queen Mary I.
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.