Robert Dudley's Kenilworth Art Collection

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1.  Great table of the Queenes Majestie, with one curtaine changeable silck.

The ‘Reading’ Portrait by an unknown artist, c1575, oils on panel, commissioned by Robert Dudley specifically for his Kenilworth collection.    Intended to invite comparison with his own similarly posed portrait ‘in a sute of russet sattin’.   By convention, each had to face the same direction, since facing portraits were restricted to married couples.

2.  Great table of the Queenes Majestie.

The last of five Tudor monarchs, Elizabeth I (1533-1603) became queen in 1558.   This oil on panel portrait is by an unknown continental artist, c1575.   Apart from its preliminary drawing, the 1575 portrait by Frederico Zuccaro is not known to survive.   It was also commissioned and intended for comparison – with Dudley’s portrait ‘in armor’.

 
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3.  Great picture of my Lord, in whole proporcion, in armor; with one curtaine.

The original painting by Frederico Zucchero, with some later alterations, was destroyed in 1940 during a German air raid.   Dudley commissioned armour from the royal armoury at Greenwich, and participated in jousting events, breaking staves.   His third set of armour, c1575, is now on show at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

4.  Great picture of my Lord, in whole proporcion, in a sute of russett sattin.

By an unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, c1575, now in the National Portrait Gallery.   This composition is based on an under-drawing, probably traced from a pre-prepared drawing.   The painting technique is of a very high quality, using layers of opaque and transparent glazes, and lead-tin yellow and red lead for the gold stitching.

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5.  Another picture of my lo., in halfe proporcion, done in black garments.

Portrait by unknown artist.   Dudley, the subject of 20 original portraits, was in turn a significant patron of the arts, owning one of the largest collections of (largely portrait) paintings at the time.    At least 100 books were dedicated to him, he was a chancellor of Oxford University, and he sponsored the revival of the Oxford University Press in 1584-5.

6.  The picture of St. Jerom naked, with a curtaine of silcke.

 

St. Jerome (347-420) was a Christian priest and historian, best known for his Vulgate translation of the bible into Latin, and his commentaries on the gospels.   This oil on canvas painting is by Jacopo Bassano (1510-1592) a painter of mostly religious scenes, and one of the first to paint a ‘nocturne’ – a night time landscape with artificial lighting.

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7.  The picture of the Lord of Arundell, with a curtaine.

Henry FitzAlan (1512-1580) was the last FitzAlan Earl of Arundel.   This portrait by an unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, c1560, is now in the National Portrait Gallery.   He entered parliament as Lord Maltravers, attended the trials of Anne Boleyn, was himself arrested and imprisoned more than once, and, he introduced coach transport to England.