Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

by Unknown Italian artist
oil on canvas, 1546
87 1/2 in. x 86 1/2 in. (2223 mm x 2197 mm)
Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5291

On display at Arundel Castle, Arundel

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Related worksback to top

  • NPG D40916: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (source portrait)
  • NPG D40917: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 110 Read entry

    A courtier, poet and soldier, Surrey was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, the most powerful nobleman in England. He was brought up at Windsor Castle with Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, with whom he travelled to France in 1532. He was the first English writer to use blank verse and, along with Thomas Wyatt, was responsible for introducing the sonnet form into England from Italy. However, his personal vanity, ambition and powerful family connections led to accusations of conspiracy, and he was executed on a charge of treason in January 1547, just before the death of Henry VIII. This portrait is evidence of Surrey's extraordinary innovation in his patronage of art and architecture; it is one of the earliest English portraits on canvas to survive and may have been commissioned for display at his house, Mount Surrey in Norfolk, which was destroyed two years after his death. The motto SAT SUPER EST ('Enough survives'), inscribed on the base of the column, may relate to his attempt to repair his reputation after falling from favour following the defeat of the English forces under his command at St Étienne in France on 7 January 1546. His clothes, and the composition as a whole, reflect the magpie nature of English taste in the period, which drew on influences from across Europe.

  • France : Reunion des Musees Nationaux., La Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France, 1970, p. 13
  • Norfolk, Gwendolen Fitzalan-Howard, Duchess of, Arundel Castle, 1913, p. 6 (opposite)
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 598
  • Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham, The dictionary of 16th & 17th century British painters, 1988, p. 243 Read entry

    Artist attributed to Guillim Scrots

Events of 1546back to top

Current affairs

The Treaty of Ardres ends England's war with France and Scotland. Francis I of France agrees to pay a large pension to King Henry VIII and his successors.
Henry VIII becomes seriously ill.

Art and science

The Dutch artist William Scrots paints Princess Edward (later King Edward VI) using an unusual and virtuoso technique of distorted perspective (anamorphosis).
King Henry VIII founds Trinity College, Cambridge.


The German Protestant reformer Martin Luther dies while attempting to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the mounting tension between German Protestant and Catholic factions. The Schmalkaldic League of Protestant princes prepares for war against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

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