Henry FitzAlan, 12th Earl of Arundel, 1550
Oil on panel
Signed with monogram and dated 1550; inscribed, INVIDIA TORQUET AUTOREM, and the sitter's age, 38
25 1/2 in. (65 cm) diameter
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Henry FitzAlan (1512-1580) lived under and served four of the five Tudor monarchs represented in this collection: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. His devotion and duty to Henry VIII, his godfather, cannot be questioned. He fought for the king in France, sat on the trial of Anne Boleyn, and served as Lord Chamberlain. In Henry's will, he was named as one of the twelve advisers, known as the Council, appointed to assist the young King Edward.
After Henry VIII's death, however, FitzAlan, a Catholic, appears to have allowed his faith to guide his allegiances. On one hand, he was a thorn in the sides of the Protestant monarchs Edward and Elizabeth; and on the other he was a staunch supporter of the Catholic Mary, becoming the traveling companion and envoy of her husband Philip of Spain. But while FitzAlan's sympathies lay with the Catholic cause, he was too shrewd to openly declare his beliefs. Under Edward and Elizabeth, to be a practicing Catholic was a crime tantamount to treason, and could be punishable by death. FitzAlan was "under suspicion" many times, but the charges were never proven. He must have kept his Catholicism well hidden, for at one stage he was even suggested as a potential suitor for Elizabeth I.
This portrait, painted in 1550 during the reign of Edward VI, reflects the influence of Italian Renaissance ideas in England. FitzAlan is portrayed as a Roman emperor, and the painting's circular form and Latin inscription both derive from antique medallions. These classical touches were perhaps appropriate for the sitter: a soldier, fortifications expert, Chancellor of Oxford University, European traveler, diplomat, and courtier, FitzAlan was the embodiment of the Renaissance man.
The inscription INVIDIA TORQUET AVTOREM (Let envy turn upon its author) may be a warning directed toward FitzAlan's jealous rival on the Council, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who in 1550 had fabricated a smear campaign against him. FitzAlan was placed under house arrest and removed from the Council. Although his innocence and freedom were soon established, he was not reinstated as a councillor. "Let envy turn upon its author" may be an allusion to his shoddy treatment by the Council and, more specifically, by Dudley. The words were to prove prophetic. In 1553, Dudley was executed for high treason at the Tower of London. FitzAlan survived the political, religious, and personal antagonisms of the Tudor period and lived to old age.
Private collection; Lempertz Auktion, Cologne, Germany, 1994, lot 1343 (as “Kaisers Marc Aurel” [Emperor Marcus Aurelius]); with Lane Fine Art Limited, London, 1994; with Simon R. Gillespie Studio, London
Literature: Catherine Macleod, “Exhibition Reviews: London, Tate Gallery – Dynasties,” in The Burlington Magazine, January 1996, p. 42, fig. 44; Andrew Boyle, “Hans Eworth’s Portrait of the Earl of Arundel and the Politics of 1549-50,” The English Historical Review, vol. 117, no. 470 (February 2002), pp. 29-30, pl. 1
Exhibited: Tate Gallery, London, Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630, ed. Karen Hearn, 1995-96 (not in catalogue)
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