Sunday, 2 October 2011

Portraits and Costumes: Henry VIII and Wives

It seems to be a thing that every other historical attraction with an empty room and a tenuous connection to the infamous Henry VIII will have a display of him and his six wives. Or it may simply seem so as I've seen three such arrangements (Warwick Castle; Hever Castle; Hampton Court), two of them in the recent past and have been musing on the subject.

The costumes are all clearly taken from iconic portraits, though some details differ. This set of photos are taken at Warwick Castle. The room was quite dark, so I've tweaked the colours and contrasts on these photos for a little more clarity.

Putting the portraits and the photos of the costumes side by side is a tad disappointing. Henry VIII, for example, isn't as insanely wide as his portrait. The lines of the costumes simply aren't as crisp and clean, or as detailed and opulent. All this is perhaps more fault of the portrait than the costume. After all, a portrait is not a photograph and it is hardly the fault of the costume makers that they cannot reproduce the exact idealised world of the portrait. Equally, the budget for the costume probably cannot match that of a Queen of England's. That, and puffed linings are obnoxiously hard to get right in real life.

The challenges reminded me greatly of those faced by cosplayers who want replicate (or in some cases simply evoke) a particular costume that exists only on the page or screen.

On the subject of Tudor portraits, I found this portrait archive particularly comprehensive.

Also, here's an iron capotain. It's awesome. Made all the more amusing to me due to the sheer number of hats that have been worn as "armour" (some with more justification than others) over the years.

More photos of the exhibition and some associated rambling under the cut.

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