Mid 18th Century
Portrait of King Edward VI

Oil on panel
Image size: 25 1/2 x 19 inches (37.5 x 27 inches)
18th Century Auricular gilt frame


Private English Collection


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This portrait of the King Edward VI depicts the boy-king standing in a black and gold embroidered doublet, wearing a jewelled cap. King Edward holds a staff with a globus cruciger set on the table beside him. No expense has been spared in the making of this piece, with gold leaf being applied in many areas to give the effect of the costume’s gold embroidery, chain of office and other metal accessories.

As the precious male heir to the Tudor dynasty, Edward’s childhood was very well documented through portraiture with the earliest portrait of the young prince being developed by Holbein when he was only two years old. The heir to the English throne, ‘His Majesty’s most noble jewel’, was brought up with every precaution to ensure his good health. Recent research reveals him as a normally strong and healthy boy, fond of athletic exercises such as hunting and hawking.

Edward was little more than nine years old when he succeeded to the throne on the death of his father Henry VIII in 1547. Edward’s reign was fated to be short as he was only fifteen when he died. After Edward’s accession to the throne, he appears to have sat only once for his portrait in around 1550, painted by William Scrots. Scrots had recently inherited the mantle of ‘King’s Painter’ from Holbein in 1545, and at the Prince’s succession, he oversaw in his studio the production of numerous portraits of Edward. This sitting was the likely source for all the subsequent variants, in all shapes and sizes, produced of Edward as King, by the Scrots studio, both during the monarch’s brief reign and after Elizabeth I’s accession and the subsequent re-affirmation of the Protestant faith.

In April 1552, he suffered from measles and smallpox, recovering by the end of May, and thereafter he was very much under the influence of the Duke of Northumberland. However, early in 1553, Edward became ill (possibly with consumption), from which he never recovered. At this time, the Duke of Northumberland convinced Edward to ‘devise’ the succession to Lady Jane Grey, Northumberland’s daughter-in-law. Edward VI died on 6 July 1553 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.