The Leicester Medieval Research Centre

Plantagenet portraits in the 15th and 16th centuries: contemporary contexts for the image of Richard III, 29 May 2018

The most widely replicated image of Richard III still resonates in the popular imagination: the thin lips, long hair and steely gaze as the king pauses in the act of putting a ring on his finger are brought to mind in each new production of Shakespeare’s play and in each new twist in the extraordinary afterlife of his reputation. This familiarity, however, comes at a cost, for it is the image created by his Tudor successors that survives, rather than a record of his own self-image as presented in a commissioned portrait from the life.

This lecture examined the surviving images of Richard, in the context of the portraiture of his Plantagenet predecessors, both the tombs, manuscript illuminations and heraldic signifiers of identity that they created during their reigns, and the shaping and repurposing of their images by the Tudors in the 16th century.

About Dr Charlotte Bolland

Dr Charlotte Bolland is Collections Curator for the 16th century collections at the National Portrait Gallery, responsible for the acquisition, research and interpretation of portraits dating from this period. She manages the display of the collection in the Tudor galleries and at Montacute House in London and has curated a number of exhibitions, including ‘The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt’ and ‘The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered’. She studied for her PhD on Italian material culture at the Tudor court at Queen Mary, University of London in collaboration with The Royal Collection.

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