Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Edward VI 1537-53 c.1590 1500s

 English School 

Portrait of Edward VI 1537-53 c.1590,  English School
Oil on Panel
16th Century
18 x 15 1/2 inches 45 x 39 cm
Wentworth Woodhouse, South Yorkshire
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This sharp and vivid rendition of Edward VI as King is based on William Scrots's most recognisable likeness of the young monarch which features Edward with his legs astride in an authoritatively designed composition reminiscent of Holbein''s celebrated image of Henry VIII. As an official royal likeness portraits of this type were in circulation from circa 1550 and were particularly favoured by noble families who wished to demonstrate their allegiance to the monarchy. Our portrait was almost certainly one of a group of corridor portraits designed to hang beside fellow monarchs and men and women of rank and historical note in an Elizabethan Long Gallery. Although the portrait is not in Scrots''s hand, the painterly clarity and technique would indicate that unlike the works of similar corridor artists of the age, this picture was specifically undertaken by a portraitist familiar with the nuances of ad -vivum portrayal.

As art historical records from the Tudor age are sparse and limited, information which may have otherwise cast light on the identities of the painters of these often elaborate portraits is almost non-existent. Indeed only little is known about William Scrots and his involvement with Edward VI. The son of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII, Edward inherited his father's title of King in 1547 as well as the services of Scrots, his father''s painter. The artist's career it seems lingered only as long as his consumption- riddled patron's days on the throne. By Jane Grey's succession in 1553, Scrots's name had altogether disappeared from the royal accounts.
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