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Saturday, January 16, 2021

National Portrait Gallery Reveals Hidden Paintings Beneath Tudor Portraits

Sir Francis Walsingham, possibly after John De Critz the Elder, 16th century (circa 1587). Sir Francis Walsingham, possibly after John De Critz the Elder, 16th century (circa 1587). The National Portrait Gallery, London

On January 3, 2013 researchers at the National Portrait Gallery in London announced that they had discovered hidden paintings beneath a number of Tudor portraits in the museum’s collection. The findings will be presented in the exhibition Hidden: Unseen Paintings Beneath Tudor Portraits in the museum’s recently remodeled Room 3.

 The exciting discoveries were made while researchers were analyzing works as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project, which aims to shed light on the working practices of Tudor artists through scientific techniques including infrared reflectography and x-radiography. This technical research, which allows for examination beneath the paint surface, unveiled the images behind the portraits.

Works on view include a portrait of the Lord Treasurer and poet, Thomas Sackville; a portrait of the first Earl of Dorset by an unknown artist, which boasts a completed painting of the flagellation of Christ beneath its surface; and a portrait of Sir Francis Walsingham. Walsingham was Elizabeth I’s Protestant spymaster and Secretary of State. Hidden beneath the portrait of Walsingham is a depiction of the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ and another figure believed to be Joseph or an angel.

Hidden Treasures will be on view through June 2, 2013.

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