Friday, 5 March 2010

One false step

Painting History Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey
Stephen Bann and Linda Whiteley
National Gallery

This book recently arrived on my desk, and it is a stunning book. The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by the French painter Paul Delaroche is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery. The book describes this picture and shows detailed shots and others paintings from Delaroche’s lifetime.
The book explores the influence of popular prints and theatre on Delaroche’s portrayals of English history, as well as supplying a biography of Lady Jane Grey who was Queen of England for only nine days.
I have always been fascinated with the Tudor period. I wondered what it would have been like to live among these kings, queens and nobles, all vying for power and using whatever means – even family members to become more powerful, and if that is your daughter then so be it. There was also the fear factor - that one false move could cost you your life.
The book also contains other illustrations such as the Puritan and Cavalier, 1880 and a particularly beautiful painting of Anne Boleyn in the Tower shortly after her arrest (see above left).
It is a wonderful book, slightly on the morbid side as quite a few of the illustrations are about imprisonment and executions. This is a good book to leaf through to admire the richness of the art work of Paul Delaroche and other painters.

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