The castle during the rule of Mary Tudor was not unlike our US government offices which always seem to have a picture of our current president displayed in each office.
It would be so easy to just that it was the same thing but it was for a very different reason.
Mary was a 'Grande Mal' narcissistic, paranoid, megalomaniac and vain person who considered herself in a class with Jesus for having killed at least 60 tons of Protestants. I say this because she saw the Protestants she killed as just so much meat. She saw what she did as being on par with what Jesus did when he threw the money changers out of the temple.
Mary had around 250 paintings made of herself so they could have one above each entrance to each room and hallway in the Royal Residence's. These were situated over the door and as high as 20 feet up (near Jesus I suppose) looking down at everyone like a big brother's all seeing video camera, but being the renaissance it was 'our Catholic God through saint Mary's eyes of the holy portrait' watching you all the time you were there.
If you look at any one of those paintings made of Mary, no matter where you stand in that room, she is going to be staring right at you. Any of these below will put you on alert or else makes you worry and want to leave. You can click on any of the heads to see the full size picture.
Try getting away from her gaze. Move around and you will find that until you scroll down or move behind your computer monitor you are not going to be able to get away from the eyes of that murderous queen.
Another thing about her paintings is that there is not a hint of a smile in any of them. In fact I'm almost certain it's intent is to show that she obviously doesn't approve of you, so do not think protestant ideas while you are there unless you want to face the consequences.
Also, you might find those rings in paintings of other people. I'll explain why in just about half a minute.
There were about 250 of these monstrous images and they were expensive so when she was deposed they didn't throw them away. In fact because she was so ordinary looking they just put faces of other people over hers.
Here is what happened to those paintings.
When Mary died they took the paintings of her down. About 80-90 they stripped right away at the downs because it was a big open area and nobody would see them doing it. They took off the paint by using a pad of cloth with a layer of heavy fiber between it and the painting. They impregnated the cloth with perhaps linseed oil and set that on the paintings in the sun. If I recall correctly the paint then just peeled right off the canvas. These they the court painter used for new paintings.
Then they stuck about 20 of the paintings that were not stripped behind the hay stacks at the downs in an open area with a roof overhead. These were those that were odd sizes and unique. They took the hundred or so that were similar and stored them elsewhere.
When the court portrait painter at the palace was ordered to paint a trim woman he would send a message for us to send him the best one of the 20 we had stored at the downs.
Then he would alter it. Not only the head got changed but sometimes he added something 'modern' to the painting to update it. Also, he removed Mary's rings on most of the paintings, but I think he may have missed a few.
I was the one that went out to find the 'best one' of the paintings of that awful queen that were out by the hay. I remember the first time because I was simply told by my older uncle to go get the best one for the court painter. I was about 12 at the time. My uncles or aunts would always just tell me to do something and it did not matter how difficult it was either. They would tell me and if I couldn't do it then they would help me. So I went out there and look through the paintings and wondered which one was the 'best one'. They were all warped and they all had that ugly looking woman on them so I could never figure out what standard they were using and what their criteria could possibly be since they were all ugly so I got the biggest one there was and sent it over to the painter at the court. Well that is what a horse breeder did. When all other things were equally bad, they just breed the biggest two horses and hoped for the best.
Nobody said anything about it not being the best so I figured out that it must work the same with paintings as with horses. I assumed they put us in charge of the paintings since we always made the proper decisions about things so it was not too great a worry for me in the first place. However, as it turned out later it was simply because out painting were closer to the palace (or more accessible) than the other 100 or so that were stored elsewhere.
So I kept on getting the biggest one for the painter every couple months. They resolved the crisis of whether I was doing it right when they sent over another batch of about 35 of those paintings and had us (which meant me) continue our art supply for the crown.
The problem was these new paintings were all the same size and they were exact copies of each other. When I saw them I had not one single thought of how I could possibly chose the best one. No two horse's are exactly alike in both looks and size and these 35 were exactly the same in every way possible (as far as I could tell).
I had been supplying the 'best one' to make the very best paintings in all of England and then suddenly at the ripe old age of 12, I had failed England and my queen. I just fell apart and started to cry and I cried and I cried for an hour.
And to make it even worse nobody could figure out what had caused me to cry except that my 17 year old uncle was telling me something of no importance when I realized the paintings were exactly alike. Every body thought he must have said something horrible to me because he had been known to tease me before.
Then I don't know what
happened because it was emotional to have failed England and the queen in this time of crisis but it
was a much better outcome than I could ever have hoped for. The previous paintings
had been there for a long time in the open shed and they were all warped
because of the big London fog. With the new paintings the painters knew what
they were going to get ahead of time so they could plan their paintings beforehand.
And as an added bonus my cousin never teased me again.
All rights reserved. © J Pinil, Inc. 2004-7