Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Newest Collection: It's a Prince!

We had planned on a post about our stenciling collections, but a happy occasion has interrupted! Can you image the fortuitous circumstance that allows us to publish our newest set of images —
Great Portraits of Kings, Queens and Courtiers just as the brand-new royal prince is debuted in public? On the cover we've even got a picture of Henry VIII, who was something like his first cousin, sixteen times removed!

Why, we must be psychic–or lucky–or both.

DoverPictura's Kings, Queens and Courtiers collection

Anyway, to celebrate we're offering this superb collection at a fantastic sale price of $12.99 (regular price $15.99), but just until they announce the new prince's name. Best bet is that you probably have a week—it took Princess Di and Prince Charles that long to announce Prince William's name. (update at 1:40 EST)  Ok, this collection will be on sale for a week anyway, through July 31!

Great Portraits of Kings, Queens and Courtiers
So what's this collection really about? Painting and Power. If you skip the church, the next major proponents of the art of painting were the monarchy and the aristocracy. Besides the obvious utility of flattering portraits as a means of self-perpetuation and self-aggrandizement, it is fascinating the uses to which the royals put portraiture.  A favorite example concerns Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII, half-sister to Queen Elizabeth I; it's an early variant of a bait-and-switch con game—a portrait serves as kind of a photoshopped Facebook photo:

Around 1553, in an effort to secure a marriage between Queen Mary of England and Prince Phillip of Spain, it was decided that a portrait should be made of Mary, to be sent to Phillip, so that he could see who he'd be marrying. The English commissioned one of the great painters of the day, Antonis Mor, to make the portrait. Upon completion, and after great debate, it was decided that Mor's painting might not be presenting the Queen in the best light. In the painting (from our collection) her visage is stern—she appears a middle-aged woman of 37 years. This wouldn't do.!/&sheet=56758

Quickly, it was arranged to have another, perhaps more pliant painter, execute a more flattering portrait of the Queen; Hans Eworth was chosen. In the resulting painting the Queen seems to have shed 15 years, and presents a more buoyant, almost cheerful demeanor. They were wed in 1554.

The art historical consensus seems to be that Mor's was the more accurate, and certainly the better of the two portraits. Here's a painting of Phillip of Spain by Titian (also from our collection)—just in case you were wondering...

Great Portraits of Kings, Queens and Courtiers is comprised 120 of the best portraits of European royalty and their attendant courts, painted by some of the greatest painters of the western tradition. The collection kicks off with a beautiful portrait of Mad King George III of England, painted by William Beechey; in it you will also find fine portraits by Raphael, Titian, Holbein, Goya, Cranach, and Gainsborough, to name just a few.

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