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King Edward V

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- subject matching 'Jewellery - Crowns and tiaras'

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King Edward V, by Unknown artist, 1597-1618 - NPG 4980(11) - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Tudor and Jacobean Portraits Database

King Edward V

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, 1597-1618
22 3/4 in. x 17 1/2 in. (578 mm x 444 mm)
NPG 4980(11)


The portrait set is the product of a number of workshops; within this set, this portrait is closely linked to the portraits of Edward III, Henry IV, Edward IV and Anne Boleyn.

This portrait is part of a set of sixteen portraits of English kings and queens. The set was previously at Hornby Castle near Bedale, the North Yorkshire seat of the Duke of Leeds, where it was recorded hanging in a corridor gallery in catalogues of 1898 and 1902. Its previous history is unknown but it was possibly acquired for Hornby Castle by the Darcy family. The set was on loan to the Gallery from 1930, following the death of the 10th Duke of Leeds in 1927, and was purchased in 1974 from the 10th Duke of Leeds Will Trust.

Historical context
This is a fictitious portrait type that was developed towards the end of the sixteenth century; it appears to derive from images of Edward VI.

Notes on attribution
This portrait is the product of an English workshop. The sixteen portraits in the set appear to have been sourced from several different workshops. Similarities between this painting and the portraits of Edward III (NPG 4980(7)), Henry IV (NPG 4980(9)), Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)) and Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(15)) indicate that all five portraits came from the same source. In addition, the panels used for the portraits of Edward IV, Edward V and Anne Boleyn all contain wood from a common tree.

Justification for dating
Some of the portraits in the set appear to be directly based on woodcuts from a series published in London in 1597 (Thomas Talbot, A Booke Containing the True Portraiture of the Kings of England) so it is likely that the set was produced after this date. Unlike the majority of sets of English kings and queens made in 1618 and later, none of the portraits are based on engravings from Henry Holland’s Baziliologia, which was published in that year. It is likely, therefore, that this set was produced before the Baziliologia was published. The materials and techniques used to produce this portrait are entirely consistent with paintings from this period; dendrochronological analysis indicates that the tree used for the panel is likely to have been felled between 1589 and 1604.

The tunic was originally purple but it now appears grayish mauve due to fading of the indigo blue and red lake pigments; a narrow strip of blue with red lake over it can be seen at the bottom edge of the painting where it has been protected from light by the frame rebate.

Painting technique
The grey streaky priming is similar to that seen in the portraits of Edward III (NPG 4980(7)), Henry IV (NPG 4980 (9)), Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)) and Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(15)) in the set. The flesh paint in this related group of portraits is built up in the same manner. The eyebrows have been painted in a particularly unusual way; a light brown layer was painted in to mark the position of the eyebrows, and the flesh paint was then painted up and around the reserve, giving the eyebrows a very pronounced and distinctive shape. The face and hands in this portrait were painted with stiff, thick brushstrokes, which were used to model the flesh rather than through blending of the paint. The tunic was originally purple but it now appears grayish mauve due to fading of the indigo blue and red lake pigments; a narrow strip of blue with red lake over it can be seen at the bottom edge of the painting where it has been protected from light by the frame rebate. The red glaze has a similar textured appearance to the green glaze on the portrait of Edward IV, where it was blotted away when still wet. The style of the lettering in the inscription is the same as the inscriptions on the other four portraits in this group.

Drawing and transfer technique
The black underdrawing in the face is simple and bold and is likely to reinforce a transferred pattern. The outline of the eyebrows is clearly defined in a similar manner to the portrait of Anne Boleyn. The hands, costume and the cross on the orb have been marked out with much looser lines that show the artist searching for the composition. A compass has been used to draw the circle of the orb and the centre point is clearly visible using infrared reflectography. A straight edge or ruler seems to have been used for the outline of the sceptre.

Other known versions
A portrait of Edward V in a set at Longleat (Marquess of Bath) uses the same portrait type and there is another version in the collection at Welbeck Abbey (Duke of Portland).

Cooper, Tarnya, ‘The Enchantment of the Familiar Face: Portraits as Domestic Objects in Elizabethan and Jacobean England’ in Hamling, Tara and Richardson, Catherine (eds.), Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and its Meanings, 2010, pp. 157-177
Daunt, Catherine, ‘Portrait Sets in Tudor and Jacobean England’ unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sussex, 2015
Daunt, Catherine, Heroes and Worthies: Emerging Antiquarianism and the Taste for Portrait Sets in England', in T. Cooper, A. Burnstock, M. Howard and E. Town, eds, Painting in Britain 1500-1630: Production, Influences and Patronage, 2015, pp. 362-75
Gibson, Robin, ‘The National Portrait Gallery’s Set of Kings and Queens at Montacute House’ in The National Trust Yearbook, 1975, pp. 81-87
Gibson, Robin, ‘A Jacobean Gallery of the Kings and Queens of England’, Folio, Spring 1995 (The Folio Society, London), pp. 9-16


Micro 01. Detail of the eye on the left (7.1…
Micro 02. Detail of the eye on the right (7.1…
Micro 03. Detail of ear, showing wet-in-wet b…
Micro 04. Detail of inscription (7.1 x mag).
Micro 05. Detail showing layer structure (16…
Micro 06. Detail of fingernail (7.1 x mag).
Micro 07. Detail of blue paint layer with red…
UV 01. Front of the panel in ultra violet lig…
Reverse 01. Back of the panel in raking light…

Compare Images (what's this? )

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Compare high-resolution images against the painting - mainly x-ray and infra-red photography images, but sometimes UV or raking light images - side by side with the ability to zoom in on details.

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The panel is in a stable condition. The paint is raised in many areas, such as the red robe and the background. The paint surface appears stable at present but requires careful monitoring for unstable areas. Areas with restoration are a little mismatched in tone and texture. The varnish is glossy.


Support type: Oak

Number of boards: 2

Panel Orientation: Vertical

Panel condition observations

The panel join has been repaired; the glue appears old but there is some more recent glue in the centre at the back. The lower-left corner has been damaged considerably and has been repaired at the back with an inset piece of hardboard. There are two holes in the top centre which pierced the paint surface in the centre of the hat; the paint losses have been repaired. A National Portrait Gallery paper label is adhered to the reverse of the panel and there is an inscription in white chalk reading 'Edward V'.

Dendrochronology (what's this? )


An examination of tree rings, which can help to provide the earliest possible felling dates for the wood used for the panel. The technique can also indicate the geographical origin of the wood.

Number of boards: 2

Last date of tree ring: 1581


For analysis the boards were labelled A and B from the left (from the front). No sapwood was present on either board. Tree-ring sequences were obtained from the lower edges of both boards. These series were found to match strongly with each other and with board B on Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)) and board B on Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(15)). A composite series was made from this grouping. The last heartwood rings on these boards dated to 1581 and 1576. Adding the minimum and maximum expected number of sapwood rings to all six boards and combining the ranges, suggests that the three panels were derived from two trees felled between 1589 and 1604. The two boards are relatively narrow but the presence of sapwood on the linked boards of Edward VI and Anne Boleyn make it unnecessary to apply the eastern Baltic LEHR-usage range.

X-radiography (what's this? )


A technique used to identify changes in composition beneath the surface of the paint layers and to understand the physical structure of a panel or canvas.

The wood grain and panel join can be seen clearly in x-ray (see x-ray mosaic 01). The repair in the lower-left corner can be seen and also the holes, which are probably nail holes from old hanging methods. The inscription is clear. The painting method is very simple and the face is painted with the same characteristic method found in a group portraits which includes Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(5)) and Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)), where the eyebrows were painted first and the flesh paint then painted up to the edges of the eyebrows. The brushwork of the ear can be compared with that seen in the ear of Henry IV (NPG 4980(9)), which is another member of the same group.

Infrared reflectography (what's this? )

Infra-Red Reflectographyclose

A technique used to observe the layers beneath the paint surface which can reveal underdrawing and changes to the initial design.

The underdrawing marking out the features is very simply and boldly applied and is likely to be reinforcing a transferred pattern (see DIRR 01). The hands, costume and the cross on the orb have been marked out with much looser lines that indicate some searching for the final position and shape of these elements rather than a planned pattern. A compass has been used to draw the circle of the orb and the centre point is clearly visible in infrared. It would also appear that a straight edge or ruler has been used for the outline of the sceptre.

Paint sampling (what's this? )

Paint Samplingclose

Investigation into microscopic pigment samples or samples of other media in order to help with dating, to reveal the order of the paint layers and help to understand the painting techniques used.

Paint samples were taken for analysis in April 2011.

The panel was prepared with a chalk ground and a pale grey priming .

Purple costume
Sample 1: Cross-section shows the chalk ground and traces of the pale grey priming. There is a bright blue undermodelling layer over this, containing indigo and lead white. Over the blue underlayer there is a thick deep scarlet red lake glaze, which is probably madder lake.

Red cloak
Sample 2: Cross-section shows the chalk ground and traces of the pale grey priming. Above this there is a bright red undermodelling painter containing vermilion with red lake and large particles of carbon black. The uppermost layer is a thick deep scarlet red lake glaze which appears to be madder lake, similar to the lake in sample 1.

Sample 3: Cross-section shows the chalk ground and pale grey priming. Above these layers there is a layer of black paint containing carbon black, lead white,and traces of red ochre and yellow ochre.
Similar white particle were found in the brownish black background of Edward IIII (NPG 4980(10)).

Surface examination (what's this? )

Surface Examinationclose

An examination of the construction of paint layers, glazes and condition often using a microscope. This method provides important evidence concerning an artist’s technique and paint handling and can reveal a specific artist’s characteristic painting style.

Painting style and method
Dendrochronology has linked this painting with the portraits of Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)) and Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(15)) from the same set, and the handling of the paint in some areas has been found to be similar. The painting has a similar streaky grey priming layer, although it is not as thick as that seen on NPG 4980(10).

Preparation layers
The panel was prepared with a chalk ground and a grey streaky priming, which contains lead white and carbon black. The underdrawing was carried out in a carbon medium and can be seen beneath some passages of the paint surface.

A light brown paint has been used to emphasise the features and shadows of the face. The modelling of the flesh has been carried out using textured brushstrokes which are now emphasised by old varnish in the interstices. The flesh paint has been painted up and around many of the features, with a mixture that contains very finely ground vermilion mixed with white and a little black. The free handling and marked texture can be seen in the ear, which has been painted with a single wet-in-wet brushstroke with the paint layer below (see micro 03). The lips have been painted in a similar way to Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)). The paint layer contains vermilion and red lake that does not completely cover the underdrawing marking the parting of the mouth. This line has been defined with a brushstroke of red lake glaze. The paint at the corners of the mouth has been dragged through with a stiff brush or similar tool to create a softening of the contours. The hands have been painted in a similar way to the face, with stiff, thick brushstrokes used to model the flesh rather than blending of paint. Small white highlights have been used to define the fingernails (see micro 06).

The cream ground, streaky grey priming layer and underdrawing are visible in many areas around the eyes. A pale brown paint has been used to mark out the eye socket, upper lid and iris, and is the same paint as that used for the eyebrows and shadows of the flesh. A translucent dark brown layer containing large black pigment particles has been used to define the iris. Both the pupil and a lead white highlight have been painted on top of the iris. The whites of the eyes have been painted in the same textured brushstrokes as the flesh. The corners of the eyes have been marked with a mixture of vermilion and red lake. The upper eyelid has been emphasised with a line of dark reddish brown (see micro 01 and micro 02).

Eyebrows and hair
The eyebrows have been painted in the same distinctive manner as seen in Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)) and Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(15)). A light brown layer has been painted in to mark the position of the eyebrows. The flesh paint has then been painted up and around the reserve, giving the eyebrow a very pronounced, strong shape. Individual strands of hair have then been painted on the brow in a dark red/brown paint similar to that seen on the upper eyelid. The hair was painted at the same time as the flesh and the edges of the two paint layers are blended together. A thin brown paint layer has been used as an underlayer with a few strands of hair picked out in a darker reddish brown paint.

Costume and hat
The red cloak appears to have been painted before all the other elements of the costume, including the gilded areas (see micro 05). An overall bright layer, containing vermilion mixed with a little red lake and black, was laid in. The highlights have been painted over this layer with some wet-in-wet blending, indicating that it was applied at the same time. A red lake glaze has then been applied that covers many areas of the red cloak. Finally, the darker shadows have been painted using a thin dark glaze. Although simply done, it does achieve the effect of red velvet. The fur collar is simply painted with a brushy underlayer of white paint applied overall and finished with strokes of lead white to indicate fur. The black ermine design was added once the lower layers had dried and has suffered from abrasion. The collar of the undershirt originally had a red lake glaze pattern painted over the top; only traces of this are now visible. The gilded areas have been applied over a beige mordant containing very large particles of lead white mixed with a little black and orange. The tunic under the cloak appears a as a grey/mauve colour today but was originally intended to be vivid purple. A strip along the bottom of the painting has been protected by the frame and a blue underlayer can be seen, containing indigo mixed with lead white, with a red lake glaze on top (see micro 07). The red lake glaze has the same mottled appearance as the copper green glaze seen on Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)), which was probably created by blotting away the glaze when it was still wet with a cloth or other soft material. A reserve was left for the hat and feathers that was blocked in with a brushy brown underlayer, onto which the mordant and gilded band has been applied. The darker black layer has been painted in after the background and the feathers extend over into the background.

Background and inscription
The background contains a mixture of black, earth pigments and lead white. The inscription is painted in a warm lead-tin yellow and is stylistically very similar to the lettering seen on Edward IV (NPG 4980(10)) and Anne Boleyn (NPG 4980(15)). There are a few traces of blue pigment on some of the letters, although it is unclear what function this was supposed to serve in the overall scheme (see micro 04).

Order of construction
- Ground
- Priming
- Underdrawing
- Brushy underlayer for hair and hat
- Red cloak
- Mordant and gilding
- Pale brown marking out features and shadows on face
- Flesh modelling
- Detailing on hair
- Costume and background
- Jewels and details on gilding
- Inscription

Lead white, black, red lake, vermilion, lead-tin yellow, indigo, earth pigments, gold leaf, carbon black, red ochre, yellow ochre

Ultra violet examination (what's this? )

Ultra Violetclose

A method which helps to reveal past restoration and the extent of varnish layers.

A thin uneven layer of opaque varnish can be seen with ultra violet light (see UV 01). The restoration down the join and at the edges appear dark in ultra violet light and there are other scattered areas of restoration.


Frame type: Not original.

Frame date: Late 20th century.


Carved and ebonised frame with Egg and Dart motifs.