d’après Hans Holbein le Jeune
Henri VIII
238,3 x 122,1 cm
huile sur bois
West Sussex, Petworth House, National Trust
© West Sussex, Petworth House, National Trust


This exhibition is organised by the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Posted 24 February 2015

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The Tudors, who reigned between 1485 and 1603, are one of the most well-known dynasties to have held the English throne. Beyond the legends inspired by their private lives, the monarchs left a deep imprint on the history of the kingdom: politically, by strategically positioning themselves within the European balance of power; spiritually, by breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church; and culturally by welcoming the Renaissance. Artists from across Europe entered the service of the court to create a wide variety of works and to meet the growing need for royal portraits. At a time of great upheaval, the convergence of these influences contributed to the development of the unique forms of the English Renaissance. This exhibition is the first in France on the subject.

Marcus Gheeraerts le Jeune
Robert Devereux, comte d’Essex
vers 1597
218 x 127,2 cm
huile sur toile
Londres, National Portrait Gallery
© National Portrait Gallery, London, England 

The True Face of the Tudors

Artiste anglais
Elisabeth Ire
vers 1600
127,3 x 99,7 cm
huile sur bois
Londres, National Portrait Gallery
© National Portrait Gallery, London, England 

The exhibition brings together many of the most iconic portraits of the five Tudor monarchs: Henry VII (the founder of the dynasty),
Henry VIII, Edward VI (the boy king),
Mary I (‘Bloody Mary’),
and Elizabeth I (the ‘Virgin Queen’).

In coming face to face with these famous individuals, visitors discover the artistic practice of the English Renaissance, as well as the great events that marked the history of this dynasty. Alongside the portraits that reveal the ‘real’ face of the Tudors, their spouses and suitors, and the sumptuous material culture of the court, the exhibition presents personal objects as a powerful means of evoking their life and times.

English Tudors and French Valois: Art and Diplomacy

The exhibition offers the opportunity to explore the relationship between France and England during the sixteenth century. Often tense and alternating between open conflict and uneasy alliance, the relationships between the sovereigns gave rise to the exchange of artworks in which portraits, and particularly miniatures, played an essential role. Some works recall key episodes in the diplomatic relations between the two countries: the rivalry of Henry VIII and Francis I; their encounter on the Field of the Cloth of Gold; the proposed marriages of Elizabeth I to one of Catherine de Medici’s sons; and the threat that Mary, Queen of Scots, who was briefly Queen of France, posed to Elizabeth’s rule. 

Eugène Lacoste
Henri VIII : quatre-vingt-une maquettes de costumes
Henry VIII, 32,7 x 24,2 cm
plume, aquarelle, gouache
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, musée de l’Opéra
© BnF

The Construction of a Legend: From Stage to Screen

Eugène Delacroix
Projets de costume pour Amy Robsart de Victor Hugo : Amy Robsart
26,2 x 11,5 cm
aquarelle et encre sur papier
Maison Victor Hugo, Paris

The exhibition is also an opportunity to explore the myths that are associated with the dynasty, which grew from the excesses that were attributed to them and the contrast between Henry VIII’s many marriages and Elizabeth’s celibacy.

This legend, still popular in film and on television, took root in nineteenth-century France as English history was discovered through the works of Shakespeare and Walter Scott. In the great era of history painting, the Tudors entered the Salon. However, it was above all on the Parisian stage that Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary Stewart were revived by the most famous actors and actresses, in plays by Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, and operas by Gaetano Donizetti and Camille Saint-Saëns.

There was only a short step from the stage to the screen, and in 1912 Sarah Bernhardt was the first actress to play Elizabeth on screen.

This exhibition benefits from the exceptional loan of twenty important works from the National Portrait Gallery in London. It draws on the results of a seven year research project ‘Making Art in Tudor Britain’, and presents two newly conserved works. It also includes works from many British collections, including The Royal Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Trust and The Royal Armouries, as well as loans from French institutions, including the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Musée du Louvre.
Curators: Charlotte Bolland, project curator for the Making Art in Tudor Britain project at the NPG, Tarnya Cooper, chief curator at the NPG and Cécile Maisonneuve, PhD in art history, art advisor to the Rmn-GP
scenography: Hubert Le Gall, assisted by Laurie Cousseau

Artiste inconnu de la fin du XVIe siècle
Anne Boleyn
54,3 x 41,6 cm
huile sur bois
Londres, National Portrait Gallery
© National Portrait Gallery, London, England

opening hours: every day from 10 am to 7 pm ; monday from 10 am to 10 pm.
closed on May, 1st
admission: €12, concessions €7.50 (16-25 years-old, job seekers and large families).
free for children under 16, low-income benefit recipients, special young : €7.50 for two entrances (from monday to friday from 5 pm)
access: Metro St Sulpice or Mabillon
Rer B Luxembourg
Bus : 58 ; 84 ; 89 ; Musée du
Luxembourg / Sénat stop
information and bookings: &
publications by Réunion des musées nationaux - Grand Palais, Paris 2015:
-exhibition catalogue, 208 pages,
22 x 26 cm, €35
-exhibition album,48 pages, 51 ill.,
21 x 25,5 cm, €10

Musée du Luxembourg
19 Rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris, France
+33 1 40 13 62 00

Richard Parkes Bonington
Amy Robsart et le comte de Leicester
35 x 27 cm
huile sur toile
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK / Bridgeman

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