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The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England

Cleland, Elizabeth and Adam Eaker, with contributions by Marjorie E. Wieseman and Sarah Bochicchio
352 pages
300 illustrations
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This fascinating new look at the artistic legacy of the Tudors reveals the dynasty’s enduring influence on the arts of Renaissance England and beyond.

Ruling successively from 1485 through 1603, the five Tudor monarchs brought seismic changes to England that reverberated throughout Europe. They used the arts to legitimize and glorify their tumultuous rule, from Henry VII’s bloody rise to power, through Henry VIII’s breach with the Roman Catholic Church, to the reign of the “Virgin Queen” Elizabeth I. With incisive scholarship and sumptuous new photography, this book explores the extreme politics and outsize personalities of the Tudors, and how they used art in their diplomacy at home and abroad.

Tudor courts were truly cosmopolitan, attracting top artists and artisans from across Europe. At the same time, the Tudors nurtured local talent and gave rise to a distinctly English aesthetic, one that is forever connected to the myth and visual legacy of their dynasty. The Tudors reveals the true history behind a family that has long captured the public imagination, bringing to life their extravagant and politically precarious world through the exquisite paintings, lush textiles, gleaming metalwork, and countless luxury objects that adorned their spectacular courts.

Andromache and Priam Urging Hector Not to Go to War (from Scenes from the Story of the Trojan War), Pasquier Grenier of Tournai  Burgundian, Wool warp, wool wefts with a few silk wefts., South Netherlandish
ca. 1470–90
Shilling of Philip and Mary, Silver, British
Furnishing Textile, Three loom widths of velvet cloth of gold with allucciolato effect and bouclé loops of gilded silver metal-wrapped threads, Italian, Florence
Italian, Florence
late 15th–mid-16th century
Martyrdom of the Seven Maccabee Brothers and Their Mother, Dirck Vellert  Netherlandish, Stained glass, Flemish, Antwerp
ca. 1530–35
Mail Brayette, Steel, German
15th to 16th century
Field Armor of King Henry VIII 
of England (reigned 1509–47), Steel, gold, textile, 
leather, Italian, Milan or Brescia
Italian, Milan or Brescia
ca. 1544
Gilt-leather wall hangings (part of a set), De Gecroonde Son  Dutch, Leather, silvered, painted and varnished, Dutch, Amsterdam
ca. 1650–70
'Star Ushak' Carpet, Wool (warp, weft, and pile); symmetrically knotted pile
late 15th century
Bearing Cloth, Anonymous, Silk satin embroidered with silver and gilded silver metal-wrapped threads, British
ca. 1600
Hunters in a Landscape, Anonymous, 16th century, Wool, silk (14 warps per inch; 5-6 per cm), British, probably London
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1575–95
Chess and tric-trac game board, Wood, ivory, bone, mother-of-pearl, German
ca. 1550
Astronomicum Caesareum, Michael Ostendorfer  German, Hand-colored woodcuts
Multiple artists/makers
May 1540
The Christ Child Pressing the Wine of the Eucharist, Linen warp;  wool, silk, and gilt weft yarns, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1500
Cup and cover, Affabel Partridge  British, Porcelain, gilded silver, British, London mounts and Chinese porcelain
Chinese porcelain, Ming dynasty, ca. 1507–66, British mounts ca. 1570
Ewer from Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Hard-paste porcelain, gilded silver, British, London mounts and Chinese porcelain
British, London mounts and Chinese porcelain
Chinese porcelain 1573– ca. 1585, British mounts ca. 1585
Two-handled bowl from Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Hard-paste porcelain, gilded silver, British, London mounts and Chinese porcelain
British, London mounts and Chinese porcelain
Chinese porcelain 1573– ca. 1585, British mounts ca. 1585
Cup with Cover, R W  British, Mother-of-pearl, with gilded silver mounts, British, London
Wine Cup on a High Foot (Tazza), Gilded silver, British, London
British, London
Blackwork Embroidery, Linen embroidered with silk and gilded silver precious metal-wrapped threads, British
ca. 1590
The Lewknor Table Carpet, Wool and silk, Netherlandish, probably Enghien
Netherlandish, probably Enghien
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Cleland, Elizabeth A. H., Adam Eaker, Marjorie E. Wieseman, Sarah Bochicchio, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), Cleveland Museum of Art, and Legion of Honor (San Francisco, Calif.), eds. 2022. The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.