Allegory of the Tudor family

Allegory of the Tudor family
Allegory of the Tudor family

The work of the painter Lucas de Heere known as Allegory of the Tudor family or Allegory of the succession of the Tudors is one of those canvases that although it does not stand out for its tremendous artistic quality – rather it can be considered as a work second-rate in terms of quality- its historical value is incalculable. On the other hand, this is also one of those paintings that show us how art has been used as a means of political propaganda at the service of the rulers.


It appears that the canvas was commissioned by the monarch Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) around the mid-16th century in 1572 as a gift to her personal secretary, Sir Francis Walsinham, and is thus reflected in an inscription at the bottom of the frame. The commission would then fall on a Flemish painter who was based in England Lucas de Heere; In reality, there is not much data that corroborates the authorship of the painter, however some art historians see a clear relationship between this canvas of the Tudor family and works by Heere such as The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon,in both cases the artist likes to mix real and historical characters with other allegories that enhance a special meaning on the canvas.

Lucas de Heere (1534 – 1584) was an artist and writer of Flemish origin. He trained under the tutelage of Franz Floris and although his paintings were not outstanding, the artist remainedinvolved in the political and religious circles of the time so that he never lacked work and already in life, he achieved great fame throughout much of Europe. It seems that the artist was able to paint the canvas he is dealing with here during his stay in England.

The center of the composition revolves around the figure of Henry VIII who, although he was not the founder of the Tudor dynasty, was one of its most emblematic members. The monarch appears seated on a throne under a canopy and above it the family coat of arms. Next to him different members of the family flank the monarch. Next to his father appears the youngEdward VI son of Henry VIII and Jean Seymour, who died at just sixteen years of age. On the other side appears María Tudor (daughter of the monarch and his first wife Catalina de Aragón) together with her husband, the Spanish monarch Felipe II, behind them the figure of the god Mars representing the alliance with the Spaniards and the threat they posed to England.

In a plane much closer to the viewer, the figure of Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, behind her appear the representations of peace andabundance. The first, she carries an olive branch in her hand and appears stepping on some weapons, while the second we can recognize her by the cornucopia.

Although it is true that the work presents an adequate color, the use of perspective has been little achieved, which detracts from the quality of the canvas.

Popular topic