Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Edward VI (1537 - 1553) 1543c.

Hans Holbein, Circle of 

Edward VI (1537 - 1553), Hans Holbein, Circle of
Oil on Panel
16th Century
22 x 16.8 inches (55.9 x 42.9 cm)
Henry VIII (?) for Nonsuch Palace; Probably Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel (1512-1580); Thence to John, 1st Lord Lumley (1534? -1609); Thence by descent through the Earls of Scarborough; Sold after death of the 4th Earl of Scarborough at Lumley Castle by Mr. Christie, 11th August 1785, bought Mr.Terry 6 16s. 6d.; Thence by descent through the Rattray family, Craighall Castle, Perthshire; A private collection, England.
The 1590 Lumley Inventory, where described thus:''Of King Edw: 6. being Prince''. Cust, ''The Lumley Inventories'', Walpole Society, 1918, vol. VI, pp. 15-50; Ganz, The Paintings of Hans Holbein, 1956, cat. no. 128, p. 257. Piper, ''The 1590 Lumley Inventory: Hilliard, Segar and the Earl of Essex'', The Burlington Magazine, vol. XCIX, July 1957, pp. 224-231. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, vol. I, p. 92 (under type B).
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This outstanding historical portrait relates to the Holbein drawing of Edward, Prince of Wales, dating from circa 1542/3, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor 1. In conscious emulation of the famous Whitehall portrait of Henry VIII, the Prince is cast in the role of his father and the style is entirely within Holbein's tradition: full-square, precise and disdaining the use of shadow. This same face pattern of head and hat must also have served for another portrait-type currently known by two versions recorded in Strong. However in those portraits, both of rather primitive quality, the Prince is shown holding a flower and in sombre dress 2. Our Lumley portrait relates much more closely to the drawing at Windsor and shows the boy Prince with a much sturdier physique and richer costume 3.

Of crucial significance is the painted cartellino, or label, which signifies that this painting once belonged to the first Lord Lumley (c.1534-1609) 4. Lumley, who as a child had been educated with Edward VI, amassed through a combination of inheritance, astute purchase and commission one of the greatest collections outside that of the royal court, consisting of sculpture, paintings and books. Following the death in 1580 of Lumley's father-in-law, the last Earl of Arundel 5, Lumley fortuitously inherited Henry VIII's fabled palace of Nonsuch, including all its priceless contents 6. This portrait may well have been part of that bequest.

The inventory of Lumley's magnificent collection - also known as the ''Red Velvet Book'', so-called on account of its binding - still survives today and stands as the single most important document for the study of art in Elizabethan England. Compiled in 1590 by John Lampton, steward of the Lumley household, its significance lies not merely in the fact that it is a comprehensive list of the largest private collection of its time, with well over two hundred portraits, but for the number of paintings to whom artists names are given. Apart from Holbein, the hitherto little-known painters identified included Hans Eworth, Gerlach Flicke, Steven van der Meulen and Sir William Segar 7.

Lord Lumley owned two portraits of Edward VI. One, which is listed amongst those described as ''statuary'', i.e. full length, is today attributed to William Scrots and is now in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court. The other, our portrait, is amongst those listed in the inventory as being of a smaller ''scantlinge'' or size .

The collection was subject to several dispersals in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century; most notably at the probate sale held at Lumley Castle in August 1785 and two further probate sales held at Sandbeck Hall, Yorkshire and Lumley Castle in November and December 1807 respectively. This portrait left the collection in 1785 when it was sold to a ''''Mr Terry'''', for six pounds, sixteen shillings and sixpence, then an exceptional sum for a Tudor panel portrait.

Edward VI was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. He was born at Hampton Court on October 12th 1531, his mother dying twelve days later. The heir to the throne, ''His Majesty''s most noble jewel'' was brought up with every precaution to ensure his good health. Recent research reveals him as a normally strong and healthy boy fond of athletic exercises such as hunting and hawking. Edward was little more than nine when he succeeded to the throne on the death of his father in 1547. In April 1552 he suffered from both measles and smallpox, recovering by the end of May and thereafter he was very much under the influence of the Duke of Northumberland. Early in 1553 Edward became ill with consumption, from which he never recovered. At this time the Duke of Northumberland convinced Edward to ''devise'' the succession to Lady Jane Grey, Northumberland''s daughter-in-law. Edward died on 6th July, 1553, and was buried at Whitehall.

1. Parker, The Drawings of Hans Holbein at Windsor Castle, 1945, cat. no. 71, plate 71. This was one of over eighty such drawings once all bound together in ''A great booke of Pictures doone by Haunce Holbeyne of certyn Lordes, Ladyes, gentlemen and gentlewomen in King Henry the 8: his tyme, their names subscribed by Sr John Cheke secretary to King Edward the 6 wch booke was King Edward the 6.'' which incredibly Lumley himself also owned as part of his Nonsuch inheritance.

2. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, vol. II, nos. 165 & 166.

3. Ibid, vol. I, p. 92, (as type B). The only other known variant is that formerly in the collection of Christ's Hospital School. It is worth noting that Sir David Piper once considered that a comparison could be made, on stylistic grounds, with our portrait and the work of Master John, a follower (and probable sometime assistant) of Hans Holbein. The only two other known works by the artist are also royal portraits. They are both in the National Portrait Gallery in London. That of Mary I, dated 1544, is documented and the other, which formerly was thought to be of Lady Jane Grey, has recently been re-identified as Catherine Parr. See Strong, The English Icon, p. 75-6, nos. 12 and 13 respectively.

4. The device of using a cartellino, or trompe-l''oeil label was first used by Holbein. For Lumley''s paintings the effect is of a cartouche of paper having been stuck with blobs of red sealing wax to the surface of the picture and which was then inscribed with the sitters name and occasionally his titles. Though with the passage of time, many of the cartellini have lost their inscriptions, the labels themselves enable us to unequivocally identify paintings that once were in the collection.

5. Henry Fitzalan, 12th (and last) Earl of Arundel was Lord Chamberlain (1546-50) to Henry VIII and Edward VI and High Constable at King Edward's coronation. Lumley's first wife was Jane, Arundel''s eldest daughter. They married at some point shortly before 1552.

6. Originally a residence of Cardinal Wolsey, Nonsuch was appropriated by Henry VIII who subsequently rebuilt and extended the palace throughout the last decade of his reign. Heavily influenced by the desire to eclipse Francis I's palace at Fontainebleau, the designs and decorations for Nonsuch were executed on such a grand scale that, as the name conveyed, there was ''none such'' like it. In 1556, during the reign of Mary I, Nonsuch and all its contents was purchased by Henry Fitzalan. Burdened with the debt of its upkeep, the palace was returned to the Crown and Elizabeth I by Lumley in 1592.

7. This has enabled art historians this century such as Cust, Auerbach, Piper and Strong to begin to piece together the oeuvre of these artists.
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