Making Art in Tudor Britain

Introduction

“The National Portrait Gallery holds the largest public collection of Tudor and Jacobean paintings in the world. The collections are one of the most significant resources for the understanding of visual culture in the English Renaissance. This research programme offers a unique opportunity to develop and share our knowledge.”

Sandy Nairne, Director

Many of the portraits included in this display have been examined as part of the Gallery’s Making Art in Tudor Britain project, in which scientific analysis has resulted in new discoveries and insights into the dating, technique and production of Tudor portraits. Find out more about the project here.


King Henry VII  by Unknown Flemish artist, 1505 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Gallery's earliest portrait: Henry VII

New research into the Gallery’s 1505 portrait of Henry VII reveals that it was probably painted as part of an unsuccessful marriage proposal by Henry to Margaret of Savoy.

Find out more here.

King Henry VII, by Unknown Netherlandish artist 1505, © National Portrait Gallery, London


King Henry VIII  by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, circa 1535-1540 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Portraits of Henry VIII

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

Find out more here.

King Henry VIII, by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, circa 1535-1540, © National Portrait Gallery, London


King Edward VI  by Studio of William Scrots, circa 1546 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Edward VI

Four portraits of Edward VI have been scientifically examined to explore when they were made and the circumstances of their production. How did artists respond to the challenge of making a nine-year boy look like a regal figure?

Find out more here.

King Edward VI, by Studio of William Scrots, circa 1546, © National Portrait Gallery, London


The ‘Phoenix Portrait’, Queen Elizabeth I  associated to Nicholas Hilliard, circa 1575 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Phoenix and the Pelican: two portraits of Elizabeth I

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.

Find out more here.

The ‘Phoenix Portrait’, Queen Elizabeth I, associated to Nicholas Hilliard, circa 1575, © National Portrait Gallery, London


Making Art in Tudor Britain was generously supported by an anonymous donor, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Foundation, the British Academy, the John S Cohen Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Idlewild Trust, the Leche Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, the Märit and Hans Rausing Charitable Foundation, the Mercers' Company, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and PF Charitable Trust.