Art Collections Online
The Family of Henry VIII: an Allegory of the Tudor Succession
HEERE, Lucas de (1534 - 1584)
Media: oil on panel
Size: 131.2 x 184.0 cm
Acquired: 1991; Gift; Accepted by H.M. Government in lieu of inheritance tax
Accession Number: NMW A 564
This picture celebrates the harmony established by Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth is on the right, holding the hand of Peace and followed by Plenty. Her father Henry VIII, the founder of the Church of England, sits on his throne, and passes the sword of justice to his Protestant son Edward VI. On the left are Elizabeth’s Catholic half-sister and predecessor Mary I and her husband Philip II of Spain, with Mars, the God of War. The picture, a gift from Queen Elizabeth to Sir Francis Walsingham, exemplifies the 16th century's fascination with allegory, the Queen's vision of herself as the culmination of the Tudor dynasty and her concern with the legitimacy of her regime.
Lucas de Heere came to London from Ghent in the late 1560s, one of many Flemish Protestant artists and craftspeople to flee religious persecution. This painting was accepted under the 'in lieu in situ scheme'. It was purchased by J.C.Dent at the sale of the collection of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill, in 1842.