Behind our wallpaper, there’s Tudor art

For Tudor art aficionados, this is an exciting time. Only a few weeks ago, it was announced that a rare wooden falcon, which sold for £75 at auction in 2019, had been recognised as an emblem of the doomed Queen Anne Boleyn. The artefact, which stands around 20cm tall, was most likely displayed in her Hampton Court Palace rooms from the time of her coronation in 1533 until her execution in 1536. Tracy Borman, the joint chief curator for Historic Royal Palaces, characterised the falcon as an “amazing survivor” because it still has its original paint and gilding.

As per art magazines, the Landmark Trust’s announcement on an impressively complete group of 16th-century decorative wall paintings unearthed during renovations at Calverley Old Hall in Yorkshire sparked even more excitement. These grotesque patterns would have been influenced by the ornamentation of Nero’s Golden House in Rome, which was uncovered in the 1480s, and would have been based on German and Netherlandish printed motifs.

Meanwhile, an astonishing series of figurative paintings discovered in 2014 at The Star pub in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, made headlines again this month after a successful conservation check. The five figures, which are surrounded by Biblical phrases, are thought to represent well-known Tudor individuals such as Elizabeth I and her top advisor William Cecil, according to conservators.

art magazines: The fact that such findings can become a topic of national attention in 2021 demonstrates how far our understanding of Tudor art has advanced since the mid-twentieth century. Objects like this were typically disregarded at the time due to a conventional focus on fine art, but in recent years, art historians have widened their views by focusing on the decorative arts, which were often more valuable to Tudor patrons than oil paintings.

Simultaneously, television, films, and books such as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy and Showtime’s The Tudors have piqued public interest in regular Tudor life. As a result of this transition, fresh research has been conducted on a wide range of remarkable artefacts, including carved furniture and plasterwork, as well as tapestries and wall paintings. More instances are being unearthed, examined, and preserved all the time, added art magazines.

Wall paintings were found in a wide variety of places during the Tudor period, from the large mansions of the affluent to tiny taverns, despite their poor survival rate. Both sides of this range are shown by two recent sets of wall murals in the news. The Star in Hoddesdon has been a tavern nearly continuously from the 16th century, attached to a manor previously owned by William Cecil and occasionally hosting the manorial law court under various names. Calverley Old Hall, on the other hand, is a historic manor mansion that was home to the Calverley family until 1754 and was a witness to covert Catholic masses, rebelliously held in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The stylish motifs of dragons, vases, scrolls, and grotesques displayed the Calverley family’s up-to-date taste. The designs are reminiscent of the imposing grotesque patterns seen at Oxford’s historic Cross Inn (now a Pizza Express), where William Shakespeare may have stayed. Despite the fact that their likely patron, William Calverley, took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, the largest Tudor rebellion, the Renaissance menagerie at Calverley Old Hall is balanced by more traditional Tudor roses and pomegranates in the frieze, symbolising loyalty to the crown – despite the fact that their probable patron, William Calverley, took part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, the largest Tudor rebellion. Pomegranates were connected with Henry VIII’s first (Catholic) wife, Catherine of Aragon, as well as her daughter, Mary I, who has crowned Mary I in 1553. According to archaeologists, the paintings date from 1547 to 1585, implying that the pomegranates represent devotion to Mary or continued commitment to the Catholic faith even after Protestant Elizabeth I’s ascension in 1558.

The paintings at The Star in Hoddesdon are Elizabethan in style, lending credence to the theory that the young woman with red hair depicted in the design is Elizabeth I herself. William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer under Elizabeth, has been tentatively recognised as another figure with a moneybag and a pair of currency scales. If this is the case, the accompanying Biblical quotation (‘For the desire of money is the root of all evil’) and reference to Luke 12:15 (‘Take heed and beware of covetousness: for though a man have abundance, yet his life standeth not in his riches’) cast an unflattering light on the queen’s arriviste advisor, added art magazines.