The odd cou­ple

COL­LECT­ING: From Castle Howard... por­traits of two men with very dif­fer­ent views on mar­riage. John Vin­cent re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Advertising Feature -

O prizes for guess­ing the iden­tity of the man on the left. It could be no­body but Henry VIII, whose like­ness to­wards the end of his life is one of the most easily recog­nised in Bri­tish history.

Fat of face, jowl, neck and body, he was in­creas­ingly be­set by ill-health but still cut an im­pos­ing fig­ure when this por­trait was painted in 1542, at about the time his fifth mar­riage ended with the ex­e­cu­tion of Cather­ine Howard on the grounds of al­leged adul­tery.

The king’s for­mi­da­ble frame, re­gal man­ner and un­flinch­ing gaze are cap­tured – in the last of­fi­cial like­ness of his reign – by the work­shop of Hans Hol­bein the Younger. Dur­ing the fol­low­ing au­tumn Hol­bein died of the plague in Lon­don and Henry him­self died a few years later, in 1547.

The aris­to­crat on the right is less easily recog­nis­able, although an in­scrip­tion on the top left of the paint­ing re­veals the sit­ter to be Wil­liam Spencer (Cavendish), 6th Duke of Devon­shire, the fa­mous “Bach­e­lor Duke”, known af­fec­tion­ately to his fam­ily sim­ply as Hart, seen through the eyes of the cel­e­brated por­trait pain­ter Sir Thomas Lawrence.

What the two dis­tinc­tive por­traits have in com­mon is that both were in the col­lec­tions at Castle Howard, York­shire’s finest stately home, and among trea­sures which fetched £12.7 mil­lion at Sotheby’s in Lon­don. The Henry VIII por­trait, in the Howard fam­ily for about 300 years, re­alised £965,000, while the one of the “Bach­e­lor Duke” (only son of Wil­liam Cavendish, 5th Duke, and his cel­e­brated wife, the great po­lit­i­cal host­ess Ge­or­giana, Duchess of Devon­shire) sold for £365,000.

Be­set by ill-health, Henry still cut an im­pos­ing fig­ure when

this was painted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.