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This is a copy, though with some differences, of the panel painting of 1558 at Woburn Abbey, traditionally ascribed to Lucas de Heere.
Mary became Queen of England and Ireland in 1553. The following year, against the advice of her councilors, she married her first cousin, Philip of Spain, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The inclusion of two chairs of estate indicates the fate of several nations attached to this union. In a dynastic gesture, Mary holds a rose in her right hand as she sits beneath the arms of England. Philip stands in front of his throne. The inscription above the open window, though not entirely legible, celebrates the extent of the sitters' combined domains.
The composition of the double portrait and the presence in the foreground of two lap dogs as attributes of marital fidelity imply that this may be a wedding portrait, although the positioning of the dogs manifests unease. They are richly dressed and the embroidery of Mary's dress is complemented by the tooled leather wall decoration. The bodies are awkwardly placed, facing towards each other, and the heads portrayed are too large to be supported by them. The composition and the steep pitch of the chequerboard floor underscore the implication of unease in this portrait, which is more a statement of union between nations than of two individuals.
National Maritime Museum
Mary I of England (1516–1558), and Philip II of Spain (1527–1598)
oil on canvas
H 106.1 x W 77.4 cm