Tudor Court brings finery and intrigue to Walker Art Gallery


The Tudor dynasty takes centre stage in all its bejewelled glory in the Walker Art Gallery’s blockbuster summer show.

The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics, which opens today, features almost 70 works from the National Portrait Gallery Collection alongside art from the Walker and other precious loaned objects from public and private sources and collections, some of which have rarely been seen on display in public.

The exhibition is being billed as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ chance to see so many treasures together outside London, and is believed to be the first time such a large number of items from the National Portrait Gallery's Tudor collections have been on show together anywhere - even in the Capital.

It aims to focus on life at the Tudor court including the fascinating and complex political scene, powerful family connections and the unique culture of the Tudors themselves.

Portraits of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I are some of the best-known and most important in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery which is currently closed as part of a major redevelopment programme.


Along with paintings of the five monarchs, other portraits on show will include Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Jane Seymour, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Drake, Robert Dudley and Sir Francis Walsingham as well as European leaders of the time - some of them women - while precious artefacts include the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll which has never been seen outside London, Armada maps and a hat said to have been thrown in the air by Henry VIII at the surrender of Boulogne in 1544.

The Tudors ruled from 1485, when Henry Tudor triumphed over Richard III at Bosworth, to 1603 when Elizabeth I died.

During those 118 years, Henry VIII broke with Rome and the Church of England was founded, there were conflicts with Scotland, France and Spain – culminating in the Spanish Armada of 1588, and Britain colonised Ireland and America.

The exhibition will consider the Tudors from a range of perspectives including some historically under-represented aspects of the period such as black Tudor history, with a portrait of court trumpeter John Blanke (below -featured on the Westminster Tournament Roll) among the exhibits.

Kate O’Donoghue, Curator of International Fine Art at National Museums Liverpool, said: “Thanks to this very special partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, we look forward to offering visitors a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see some of the most famous portraits in the world here in Liverpool.

“We’re also thrilled to have secured some exceptional supplementary loans for the exhibition, including some of the Armada Maps and the extraordinary Westminster Tournament Roll.

"In addition to these objects, we’ll be showing the Bristowe Hat – by tradition associated with Henry VIII – and the Bacton Altar Cloth, believed to have been made from the only surviving fragment of one of Elizabeth I’s dresses.”

The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics is at the Walker Art Gallery until August 29. Tickets HERE