Corneille de Lyon (c.1500 – 1575)Madeleine of France, later Queen Consort of Scotland (1520 – 1537) , Painted between September 1536 – May 1537Oil on panel
5 ½ × 4 5/8 in. (13.8 × 11.8 cm.)
George Gower (c.1540 – 1596)George Goring Jnr. (c.1555 – 1602) of Ovingdean and Danny Park, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, 1581Oil on panel26 ¾ x 22 in. (68 x 56 cm.)
Studio of William Scrots (c. 1537 – 1553)Edward VI of England (1531 – 1553), circa 1550Oil on panel17 ¾ x 12 ¾ in. (44.9 x 32.4 cm.)
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1561 – 1635)Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1565 – 1601), circa 1596 - 1598Oil on panel44 ¾ x 35 in. (113.7 x 88.9 cm.)
About 16th Century portraiture
Portraits in the 16th century, more than ever before, played an important role in sealing the arrival of a new dynasty, and emphasising marital and political alliances. So deeply rooted was the respect for hereditary principle that portraiture was used as a tool to elevate the sitter into their dynastic setting.
English portrait painting was at the time deeply influenced by key continental artists, including Augsburg-born Holbein, whose paintings came to define the early Tudor period in England. Holbein came to England in 1526, and although he returned to Basel for a time, he was soon appointed as King's Painter to Henry VIII. His portraits today still possess a feeling of direct individuality to contemporary viewers, and the power to astonish. Artists working in his orbit were William Scrots, whose delicate portraits of Edward VI record a precarious moment in the Tudor lineage, and Hans Eworth, who defined a more sober likeness in Mary I.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, portraiture in England became arguably more stylised, exaggerated and iconographic, a reflection of the Queen's desire to control her own courtly image. This facilitated a blossoming of a particularly English aesthetic that obsessively reflected on surface, and the display of wealth through costume. It reached a brilliant climax during the second decade of the reign of James I, with artists such as William Larkin and Paul van Somer, before a resurgence of European naturalism.