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PROPERTY FROM THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART SOLD TO BENEFIT FUTURE ACQUISITIONS

Guillim Scrots and Workshop
PORTRAIT OF KING EDWARD VI
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT
111

PROPERTY FROM THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART SOLD TO BENEFIT FUTURE ACQUISITIONS

Guillim Scrots and Workshop
PORTRAIT OF KING EDWARD VI
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Guillim Scrots and Workshop
ACTIVE IN ENGLAND 1537 - 1553
PORTRAIT OF KING EDWARD VI
inscribed at left on pedestal (now partially illegible): Arte hast not mist but lively e[xp]reste/the Shape of Englands [Treasu]r/yet unexprest r[i]maneth the be[ste]/Vertues [beyond] all m[easur]/[text in Greek script]/Exprimit Anglora [decus] Pictura, sed illa/Munera virtutum nulla tabella d[a]b[it]
oil on panel
62 by 35in.; 157.5 by 89 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough (1790-1871), Southam Delabere, Gloucestershire, ;
Thence by descent;
Sale, ("The Property of the late Earl of Ellenborough, removed from Southam, Delabere, Gloucestershire"), London, Sotheby's, 11 June 1947, lot 76 (as Holbein School);
With Leggatt, London;
From whom acquired by Lt. Col. George Golding, London, 1947;
With Leggatt, London, by 1950;
From whom acquired by William Randolph Hearst, 1951;
Gift of the Hearst Corporation to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,1951 (acc. no. A.5933.51-104).

Exhibited

London, Royal Academy of Arts, Winter Exhibition, 8 December 1950 - 9 March 1951, no. 301 (as by Scrots, lent by Leggatt, from a label on the reverse);
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1997, on view;
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999, on view.

Literature

J.G. Nichols, Catalogue of the Portraits of King Edward the Sixth, Both Painted and Engraved, London 1859;
E. Auerbach, Tudor artists : a study of painters in the royal service and of portraiture on illuminated documents from the accession of Henry VIII to the death of Elizabeth I, London 1954;
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Catalogue of Paintings II: Flemish, German, Dutch and English Paintings XV-XVIII Century,  Los Angeles 1954, p. 73, reproduced plate 80;
"Paintings in Los Angeles", Connoisseur, May 1955;
O.N. Millar, The Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Text Vol., London 1963; p. 66, under cat. no. 49;
Roy C. Strong, The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, London 1969, p. 71, under cat. no. 6;
Roy C. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, Vol. I, London 1969, p. 94;
S. Schaefer and P. Fusco, European Painting and Sculpture in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles 1987, p. 91, reproduced;
E.K. Waterhouse, Painting in Britain 1530-1790,  New Haven 1994, p. 13;
Bridget Cooks, What are you Wearing? Looking at Children's Fashions in Paintings from the Permanent Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles 1999.

Catalogue Note

Guillim Scrots (also listed in contemporary documents as “Stretes”) was one of the most important artists working in the Tudor Court and the creator of arguably the most important official portrait of Edward VI.  Scrots, who was Flemish, is first documented as peintre en titre to Queen Mary of Hungary, the Regent of the Netherlands, in 1537. There he would have absorbed the style and grand formality of Habsburg court portraiture that had been established by such artists as Jakob Seisenegger and Christophe Amberger, and which Scrots subsequently brought to England.1  Though no works by Scrots from this period are known, the fact that his services were sought by King Henry VIII of England would indicate that he was already an artist of international stature.  Scrots entered the service of Henry VIII as the “King’s painter” in 1545 at the remarkably high salary of £62 10s a year, substantially more than was paid to his illustrious predecessor, Hans Holbein, who had died two years before.  It seems the King, in his desire to keep pace with the fashions of his Continental rivals, was determined to spare no expense in procuring the most up-to-date painter with the best European Court pedigree.2  Following Henry’s death in 1547, Scrots was retained as court painter to Henry’s son and successor, Edward VI.

Edward VI was the only son of King Henry VIII, by his third wife, Jane Seymour, and just nine years old when he succeeded to the throne.  As he matured, Edward developed a deep interest in religious policy and his reign, although brief, is important as it marked a continuation and consolidation of the English Reformation, something which his sister Mary, who succeeded him as Queen of England, was unable to reverse.  As Henry's only son and the male heir to the throne, portraiture of Edward is one of the more extensive of any royal Tudor child.  The earliest portrait is a drawing by Holbein of circa 1539-40, done when the prince was two years old (Royal Collection, Windsor Castle), already depicting him in an authoritative, full frontal pose, and which Holbein later developed into a celebrated oil portrait (National Gallery, Washington, D.C.).

Despite his apparent fame and stature at court, making firm attributions of existing paintings to Scrots has proved difficult.  The work most closely associated with him is an anamorphic portrait of Edward VI in the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 1299) painted when the sovereign was nine years old.  Rendered in distorted perspective, a technique designed to display the virtuosity of the painter, the correct image only becomes apparent when seen from the viewing hole on the right side.  As it is such an unusual work, it is difficult to use as a reference point from which to make other attributions.  However, it seems certain that Scrots was responsible for the design of the most important official portrait of Edward as king, of which the present painting is one of the rare extant examples.

This full length portrait of Edward depicts the young king at about the age of fifteen and not long before his untimely death from consumption in 1553.  It adopts the full frontal, standing pose used so effectively by Holbein for his portraits of Henry VIII.  This portrait type is known in four other versions, all on panel and of similar dimensions:  in the Royal Collection (167 by 90.5 cm.); the Musée du Louvre (168 by 87 cm.) [fig. 1]; the Musée Joseph-Déchelette, Roanne; and formerly in the Duke of Marlborough's collection at Blenheim Palace (158 by 89.5 cm.) [fig. 2].  The Royal Collection and Musée Joseph-Déchelette versions depict the king in a black costume with gold embroidery and black tights; age-wise he appears, perhaps, around thirteen.  In the present version and those in the Louvre and formerly at Blenheim, Edward appears to be more mature and is wearing a brown costume with gold embroidery and white tights.  The Louvre version shows Edward wearing the order of the Garter, but this is thought to be a later addition.  Unique to the present version is the laudatory inscription in English, Latin and Greek, suggesting that this version may have been intended for export abroad to a foreign country, possibly intended for the educated members of a foreign court where these languages would have been understood.3  In fact, documents show that in March 1552, Scrots was paid 50 marks for “three great tables,” the term “table” denoting a full-length portrait.  Two were portraits of Edward VI and the third a portrait of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.  The portraits of Edward were to be sent abroad to Sir John Mason and Sir Thomas Hoby.  Mason was ambassador to France when the marriage treaty between Edward VI and a daughter of Henry II of France was settled on 20 July 1551, and a portrait is mentioned as being sent to him in October 1551. Any portraits of Edward sent during these negotiations would certainly have been the most up-to-date likenesses of the king and so it seems probable that the portrait type, of which the present work is an example, may have been commissioned for such a purpose.

Dendrochronological analysis of the Los Angeles panel support has revealed that it is made up of four oak boards from different trees, originating in the eastern Baltic region of Europe, still growing in 1534 and likely to have been felled after circa 1542.  Lending support to the possibility that this portrait and the ex-Blenheim portrait could be identifiable with the two “great tables” for which Scrots was paid in 1552, are remarkable findings linking the panel supports of both portraits.  They are of identical and unusual construction:  both are made up of four oak boards of Baltic origin, aligned vertically; there is a narrow left hand board and 3 wide boards, and both have merchants or cargo marks on the reverse (thought to be marks derived from the stacking of packets of boards during shipment) [fig. 3].  Furthermore, dendrochronological analysis has shown that one of the boards in each portrait comes from the same tree.  Based on these extraordinary findings, it can be concluded that the panel supports of the Los Angeles and ex-Blenheim portraits were most likely made by the same panel maker at the same time.

The full dendrochronological analysis report on the present painting, prepared by Ian Tyers in November 2013, is available upon request.

 

 

1.  See R. Strong, The English Icon, Elizabethan & Jacobean Portraiture, New Haven 1969, pp. 5 and 7.
2.  See E. Waterhouse, Painting in Britian, Edinburgh 1969, p. 11.
3.  Ibid., p. 13.
4. See E. Auerbach, Tudor Portraits, 1954, pp. 74-75.

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