King Henry VIII Unique Review

Showcased for several years in Charleville Castle, the masterpiece of King Henry the 8th at the baptism of the future Queen Elizabeth the 1st is one that can not be forgotten.  As the years passed by, the castle was unfortunately subjected to various acts of vandalism and Charleville Castle slowly became a derelict castle.  But as luck would have it, when the year 1970 came around, a gentleman by the name of Graham Gordon found his way into the castle and upon entering, came across the masterpiece of King Henry the 8th.  Already feeling sympathy for the castle, Gordon was determined to save the painting, and after correspondence with the castle’s current owner, he was granted permission to remove the painting.

Gordon had his own views from when he first came across the painting, and we at Charleville Castle have been fortunate enough to have direct quotes of Gordon describing the painting:

King Henry Painting Value


• Shakespeare’s play, KING HENRY VIII, is accepted amongst most scholars
as his last play. It is generally thought to be written in 1612 and perhaps
partially written by John Fletcher. It was performing at the Globe theatre
when the theatre burned down in 1613.

• The Peters rendering of Henry VIII, Act V, Scene 4, is the most
transforming historical moment of all the Shakespeare’s plays.
For the actual portrait of Henry, Peters used the Holbein original life
portrait of Henry, so the likeness is remarkably accurate..

• It represents the last Scene in the last Act of the play. The climax.
A towering moment when the infant Elizabeth is recognized and baptized.
She is Henry’s daughter and to become the future famous Elizabeth,
Queen of England, in that time so well known now as the “Elizabethan Age.

• The painting depicts the Archbishop of Canterbury at a hugely important
time when Henry VIII was in conflict with Rome over the issues of divorce
and was casting away Roman Catholic power from Britain.

• Archbishop Cranmer and The Lord Mayor of London are there along with the
Duke of Norfolk with his Marshal’s staff, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk , the
Marchioness of Dorset, God Mothers and Aldermen.

• It represents more than any other painting of the Boydell Shakespeare
the core purpose of Alderman Boydell’s mission . . .
to establish a School of Historical Painting and advance the art towards maturity.

• None of the other Shakespeare plays of the historic Kings of England come close
to the monumental changes wrought by Henry VIII. Henry stands alone as
that towering monarch widely known and written of through history down until
today when the TV series “The Tudors” shines further light and huge interest
onto this powerful and demanding King, quite above and beyond the other
Henrys or Richards of British history. This Act of this Play is that pivotal moment
of British history like no other.

• The Peters Henry VIII, Act V, scene 4, is about the largest of all the Boydell
Shakespeare paintings.

• Its value cannot be judged simply as a ‘Peters” painting. It is a unique Boydell
Shakespeare painting in the light of its monumental historical relevance.

Gordon’s viewpoint on the masterpiece brings such a unique vision, we can only hope it will inspire others to take part in our goal of bringing King Henry the 8th back to Charleville!

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