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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 is seated full-length on the right in a black overdress with fur on the sleeves and gold brocade embroidered underdress, with the headdress of the 1550s. Her facial characteristics, which do not resemble other portraits of Mary, have been intentionally idealised to flatter the sitter. Philip is standing on the left in a black doublet and hat and white hose. He is wearing the Order of the Garter. They are portrayed in a room, physically separated by a window with an open casement, through which is a view of St Paul's and the Thames. 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 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.
Mary I of England (1516–1558), and Philip II of Spain (1527–1598)
oil on canvas
H 106.1 x W 77.4 cm