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Thomas Wolsey

1 of 37 portraits of Thomas Wolsey

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomas Wolsey

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1589-1595, based on a work of circa 1520
33 in. x 22 in. (838 mm x 559 mm) arched top
Purchased, 1858
Primary Collection
NPG 32

Sitterback to top

  • Thomas Wolsey (1470 or 1471-1530), Cardinal and statesman. Sitter associated with 37 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Unknown artist, Artist. Artist or producer associated with 6583 portraits.

This portraitback to top

All surviving portraits of Wolsey derive from the same pattern, which depicts him wearing cardinal's robes and holding a scroll. This version was commissioned by Ralph Sheldon as part of a set of portraits of his house in Warwickshire in around 1520.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1520back to top

Current affairs

The 'Field of Cloth of Gold' - an elaborately staged meeting between the courts of King Henry VIII and Francis I of France takes place near Calais.

Art and science

The German gunsmith Gaspard Kotter invents rifling in the barrels of firearms, improving their range and accuracy.

International

The German Protestant reformer Martin Luther publicly burns the Papal bull Exsurge Domine (Arise, O Lord), written in response to his 95 Theses. Luther is subsequently excommunicated.
The Stockholm Bloodbath - Danish troops massacre Swedish nobles and churchmen opposed to the rule of Christian II of Denmark.
Death of Selim I and succession of Suleiman I as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

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Hilary L Turner MA DPhil

19 October 2018, 10:35

Sheldon family details

The Ralph Sheldon who commissioned this portrait is almost certainly Ralph 1537-1613. He built or maybe rebuilt the house at Weston in Long Compton, Warwickshire, where the series of portrait heads hung, around 1586-90.
There is a great deal of scholarly literature about this. Please see the article cited below which has fully supporting material.