Wednesday 2 July 2014

Anne Boleyn's arrival at the Tower of London (an illustration)

Anne Boleyn arrives at The Traitors' Gate (by John Millar Watt, 1965)

This illustration by John Millar Watt (1895 - 1975) captures the high drama of Anne Boleyn's arrival at the Tower of London on May 2, 1536.

But do notice:

  • Had Anne really been standing on the ledge of the barge as she is here, the well known rhyme about the fate of Henry VIII's six wives would have gone like this instead: Divorced, drowned, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.
  • Anne was reputed to be a fashion trendsetter, but high heeled boots?!
  • Sir William Kingston and his men standing under Traitors' Gate! In actuality, the river waters would have flowed into the arch, floating the barge in. We'll have to ignore the fact that Anne actually entered the Tower on foot via the Byward Tower after landing at the wharf.

Still, it's a handsome picture. You can actually purchase the original watercolor here.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

The BBC production of Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII' (1979)

An excellent production of Shakespeare's play that I highly recommend.
Admittedly, the pageboy hairdos and bulky costumes - however historically accurate - will be disconcerting to those used to seeing Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Henry strutting around the palace with a sleek haircut and a skinny tank top!

Claire Bloom as Queen Katharine and John Stride as King Henry.

Barbara Kellermann as Anne Bullen.

The BBC production however, was not without its own anachronisms, though unintentional. The scene where Queen Katharine confronts Cardinal Wolsey and Cardinal Campeius was filmed on location at Hever Castle. If you look closely, its portraits of Philip II of Spain (1527-1598) and of his wife Elisabeth of Valois (1545-1568) can be seen in the background!

A portrait of Philip II can be seen above Claire Bloom on the right. On the left is a painting of Elisabeth of Valois.

A painting of Elisabeth of Valois hangs behind the lady-in-waiting holding a lute.