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Highlights from the Research

Research undertaken as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project has revealed unexpected information about some of the Gallery’s portraits.


Queen Elizabeth I (detail) by Unknown English artist NPG 4449, © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Queen’s Likeness: Portraits of Elizabeth I

During the course of her reign, Queen Elizabeth I became a public icon. Her likeness appeared on a large number of objects - from the coins in purses to large-scale painted portraits. These images were carefully designed and served as a tool to manipulate the public image of the queen.

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Sir Francis Walsingham (detail) by Unknown artist NPG 1704, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Hidden: Unseen Paintings Beneath Tudor Portraits

Research undertaken as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project has revealed unexpected information about some of the Gallery’s sixteenth-century portraits.

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Sir Henry Unton (detail) by Unknown artist NPG 710 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Portrait of Sir Henry Unton (c. 1558 - 1596)

One of the Gallery’s most unusual portraits has recently undergone technical analysis as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project.

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William Warham (detail) after Hans Holbein the Younger, NPG 2094 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Double Take: Versions and Copies of Tudor Portraits

In the sixteenth century, multiple versions and copies of portraits were frequently produced in order to satisfy demand for images of monarchs and prominent courtiers that often lasted long after the sitter’s death. Technical analysis has provided fascinating insight into the process by which these works were made.

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King Edward III (detail) by Unknown artist © National Portrait Gallery, London

Picturing History: A portrait set of early English kings and queens

This portrait set of English kings and queens is one of the most important surviving sets of its type. Probably painted between 1590 and 1620, it includes portraits of English rulers from William the Conqueror (1027-87) to Mary I (1516-58).

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King Henry VIII (detail) by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist © National Portrait Gallery, London

Portraits of Henry VIII

Three of the Gallery’s portraits of Henry VIII have recently undergone technical examination in order to explore the techniques used in their production.

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Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (detail) by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist © National Portrait Gallery, London

Two Portraits of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester

Considered side by side, these two portraits can be seen to represent the two major motivations for the production of Dudley’s portrait. Moreover, new technical analysis has done much to further our understanding of how these portraits were made, where they originally came from and what they looked like when they were first painted.

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Sir Henry Lee (detail) by Anthonis Mor (Antonio Moro) © National Portrait Gallery, London

Portrait of Sir Henry Lee (1533 - 1611)

Research on this very skilfully painted portrait of Elizabeth I's favourite has revealed some of the techniques employed by the artist.

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Unknown woman, formerly known as Catherine Howard (detail) after Hans Holbein the Younger NPG 1119, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Designs by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8 - 1543)

Hans Holbein the Younger was Henry VIII's painter. Research on portraits based on his designs has shown that copies or versions of his paintings were being commissioned into the 17th century.

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Richard Foxe (deatil)  by Unknown English artist NPG 5387 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Portrait of Bishop Foxe

Recent research revealing that the portrait must now be considered as a nineteenth century copy of an earlier work.

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Sir Thomas Gresham (detail) by Unknown Netherlandish artist NPG 352 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham (c.1518 - 79)

Technical analysis has uncovered that several changes were made to the composition of this portrait during the painting process.

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John Astley (detail) by Unknown Netherlandish artist NPG 6768 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Portrait of John Astley (c.1507 - 96)

Analysis of the pigments used for this portrait has confirmed that it was painted in 1555 and is therefore an early example of a painting on canvas.

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King Henry VII (detail) by Unknown Netherlandish artist NPG 416 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Gallery's earliest portrait: Henry VII

The Gallery's 1505 portrait of Henry VII probably painted as part of an unsuccessful marriage proposal by Henry to Margaret of Savoy.

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Queen Elizabeth I (detail) associated with Nicholas Hilliard NPG 190 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Phoenix and the Pelican

Recent technical analysis undertaken on these two renowned portraits of Elizabeth I has revealed they must have been painted in the same studio around the same time.

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King Henry VI (detail) by Unknown English artist NPG 2457 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Two medieval kings

These two portraits were produced towards the end of Henry VIII's reign by an unknown English workshop. Recent technical analysis has found out more about how the pictures were made and what they might have looked like when first painted.

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Gerlach Flicke; Henry Strangwish (Strangways) (detail) by Gerlach Flicke NPG 6353 © National Portrait Gallery, London

16th century double portrait

This small painting depicts the German artist Gerlach Flicke (1545-1558) when resident in London, with his friend the English gentleman-privateer Henry Strangwish (died 1562).

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King Edward VI (detail) after Hans Holbein the Younger NPG 1132 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Edward VI

Edward VI's reign was characterised by popular discontent, political turmoil and the introduction of Protestant worship into England. As the only son of Henry VIII (by his third wife Jane Seymour) Edward VI succeeded to the throne in 1547, at the age of nine.

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