Monday, June 02, 2008

Elizabeth I Portrait Discovered

I am Tudor-fixated in the way that many of my friends are Jane Austen fans. Sure, I love Jane Austen and have read all of her books (with the exception of Mansfield Park, which I've started a number of books) and seen many of the adaptations, but despite my difficulty with keeping exact dates in my head, I gravitate toward anything to do with the history of Tudor England. I believe that Catherine of Aragon got the short end of the stick and Mary Tudor would not have earned such a ruthless reputation as "Bloody Mary" had she not been forcibly separated from her mother and made to endure a number of emotional humiliations under her father's reign. In terms of bloodlines, Mary Stuart was indeed the rightful successor to Mary I. Yet, despite her flaws, Elizabeth I is my favorite queen of all time. I have read a number of historical novels, seen the adaptations and cheerfully shook my fist as I called out, "It didn't happen that way, you fools!" It's a small detail, but I'm a little disgruntled that in both The Tudors and The Other Boleyn Girl (which I have not seen), Henry VIII doesn't have red hair. Red hair is important. Whenever Henry VIII wonders if Elizabeth I is really his daughter, it's supposed to be laughably apparent that she resembles him so closely, especially with the hair.

Recently, a portrait of the young Elizabeth I with her family was discovered. You may read the article here: Rare Elizabeth I portrait uncovered. Here's the painting:



What I like best about this portrait, which is a copy of an original thought to date back to the early 1550's, is that Will Somers [also spelled "Sommers"], Henry VIII's fool (i.e. court jester), is in the portrait with the family. Fool would have been the occupation for me, perhaps. As Ringo Starr sang on the "Help" album, "All I've got to do is act naturally."

7 comments:

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

So you've probably read The Autobiography of Henry VIII with notes by His Fool, Will Somers (Margaret George)? I read it years ago and enjoyed it immensely; a few weeks ago I picked up the hardcover at a library sale.

I agree with you completely about the red hair, or lack of it (and I'm the only person I know who saw both The Golden Age and The Other Boleyn Girl in the theater, too). And Catherine of Aragon, too. My dissertation was about her mother Isabel I.

Lone Star Ma said...

I like Anne of A Thousand Days. And most anything about Jane Grey. I haven't seen the movie, but I didn't like the book The Other Boleyn Girl as much as I expected to like it.

TadMack said...

Oh, dear, another nerd area of mine revealed: I saw a series on Elizabeth I. in history at school -- seventh grade? And wrote her name on all my papers well into 8th grade, just the way it was written on the series -- the whole calligraphied E and onward-- allegedly her own signature.

*sigh* I really loved history if it wasn't American...

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Anamaria: Autobiography of Henry VIII was one of the few books I listened to on audiotape, which was a mistake, because I get sleepy when people read to me, and started drifting off around the time of Catherine Howard. I need to pick up the book sometime. I just saw The Golden Age on DVD recently. I wish we could have a fairly accurate production about Elizabeth I that has Cate Blanchett as the young EI and Judi Dench as the older EI (Dench's 12 minutes in "Shakespeare in Love" was my favorite part of the whole film). I'd like to hear more about your dissertation....

LSM: I just checked my library catalog, and they finally have "Anne of a Thousand Days." Hurrah! I can see it now. I enjoyed "Lady Jane" well enough, though they gave her a much happier marriage than she actually had.

TadMack: I believe I know the series you mean: Elizabeth R. She had a gorgeous signature indeed.

By the way, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" with Keith Michell is not to be missed. Sure, the production values are lower than we're accustomed to today, but the acting more than makes up for it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066714/

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

P.S. While I plan to see The Other Boleyn Girl on DVD when it comes out, the book really was outrageous. And when I heard that in the film, they made Anne Boleyn the older sister and even had her remarking on her younger sister getting married before her, I just rolled my eyes.

BlueMamma said...

Jane Seymour was my favorite of Henry's wives. Just think: if she had not died, everything might have been OK after all, none of this messy Protestant Reformation business.

And I think that Judi Dench's 12 minutes were not only *everyone's* favorite part of SiL, they were the only 12 minutes worth watching. Judi Dench is always worth watching. Have you seen The Importance of Being Earnest with her and Colin Firth and Rupert Everett? That's a fun movie, and I don't even like that play.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Bluemamma: Hmmm... I think by the time Jane Seymour had come along, there was already too much to go back to how things were. Henry had already been excommunicated and liked the idea of himself as the head of the church.

I did see "Importance..." I didn't love it, but remembered enjoying the play from high school drama classes. I enjoyed more of "Shakespeare in Love" than you-- the part in the beginning where young Shakespeare is trying to write and there's a cheesy Stratford-Upon-Avon trinket (a fake skull perhaps?) right by his hand made me chuckle, as well as the part where Shakespeare hisses "I love your early work" to Marlowe... oh, and Elizabeth I's interchange with John Webster. The parts of the film I liked best appealed to the Blackadder fan in me.

What am I still doing at the computer....