Decorating the Prince's Chamber
Art on the theme of Tudor history was planned for this room. Empty compartments designed for the Spanish Armada paintings were decorated with wallpaper by Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852). By juxtaposing the statue of Queen Victoria with portraits and scenes from the Elizabethan age, the scheme illustrates the 16th century origins of the 19th century nation's prosperity and power.
Audio transcriptSix large rectangular spaces had been waiting for over 150 years to be filled with paintings, reproducing the compositions of the original tapestries. These were commissioned by the admiral of the English Fleet, Lord Howard of Effingham and completed about 10 years after the Spanish Armada conflict.
Armada paintingsOil and gilding on canvas.
This scene, 'The English Pursuing the Spanish Fleet against Fowey' by Richard Burchett, dates to the late 1850s, but was not installed until 2010.
Audio transcriptOne painting had been completed in the late 1850s by Richard Burchett, but the project to complete all six, initiated by Prince Albert was never completed at the time.
This depiction of Queen Katherine Parr (1512-1548) copies a painting now in the National Portrait Gallery. Before that institution was established in 1856, finding genuine likenesses of historic figures was a challenge. Peers helped by making paintings from their collections available for copying. The new series was painted on panel by Burchett's students from the Royal School of Arts (now the Royal College of Art).
Elizabeth IOil painting on panel by studio of Richard Burchett, 1854-60.
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) reigned for over 44 years. She was beset by threats to her authority, but survived them owing to her sharp intelligence and skill as a diplomat and leader. The Spanish Armada of 1588 was one of many attempts by Catholic Spain to depose her Protestant rule.
Mary of ScotsOil painting on panel by studio of Richard Burchett, 1845-60
Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) was Elizabeth I's second cousin and viewed by Catholics as the rightful ruler of England. Deposed from the Scottish throne in 1567, Mary was imprisoned in England and became the focus of Catholic plots. Elizabeth immediately regretted authorising Mary's execution in 1587, and the event incensed Philip II.
Philip IIOil painting on panel by studio of Richard Burchett, 1854-60.
King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598) appears in the Prince's Chamber because of his marriage to Queen Mary I of England (1516-1558), Elizabeth I's older half-sister. He hoped to reinstate Catholicism in England. Another aim was to stop Elizabeth thwarting his commercial and political power through piracy and her support of rebels in the Netherlands.
Queen Elizabeth I knighting DrakeBronze bas relief by William Theed the Younger, about 1855.
Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake (1540-1596) in 1581 aboard the Golden Hind. The occasion took place six months after he became the first captain to circumnavigate the globe. During that voyage Drake seized ships and raided ports in acts of piracy against the Spanish and Portuguese. On his return he shared his riches with the queen. Drake became an MP for constituencies including Bossiney and Plymouth.
Queen VictoriaMarble sculpture by John Gibson, 1855.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) – here flanked by figures of Justice and Clemency – reigned from 1837 to 1901. In 1840 she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. From 1841 until his death in 1861 he chaired the Royal Fine Arts Commission, responsible for selecting the artwork for the new Palace of Westminster.
Artists and sculptorsRichard Burchett, wood engraving after an unknown artist, published 1875, © National Portrait Gallery, London
Artists who contributed to the Prince's Chamber included John Gibson (about 1790-1866), sculptor of the statue of Queen Victoria. His former assistant William Theed (1764-1817) was responsible for the bas reliefs of Tudor scenes. Richard Burchett (1815-1875) was the chief painter and author of the first Armada picture. He supervised his team of art students in copying the 16th century portraits. Their names are not known, but he trained successful artists such as Sir George Clausen (1852-1944), Kate Greenaway (1846-1901), Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) and Sir Luke Fildes (1844-1927).
The Princes Chamber
“And it's relationship to the tapestries”
Belonging to the State Apartments, the Prince's Chamber is the anteroom to the House of Lords. The Monarch passes through here at the State Opening of Parliament.