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The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion at the Queen's Gallery

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at and my theatre reviews at
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Manners maketh man, but clothes convey his status
The Royal Family owns a huge collection of art and artefacts: The Royal Collection, and some of these are displayed from time to time in exhibitions at the Queen's Gallery (adjoining Buckingham Palace). The current display - In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion is a sumptuous pictorial history lesson of the fashions and accessories that were worn by members of the Tudor and Stuart Royal Families and their courtiers.

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion
Henry VIII circa 1530-35

During the reigns of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs (from 1485 to 1714) clothing was a means of demonstrating wealth and prestige. With no twenty-first century media to broadcast images of those at the top of society, and with censorship strictly controlled, royalty and aristocracy could dictate exactly how they were portrayed by artists. They had the money to afford expensive fabrics, such as satins, as well as glittering jewels, all of which gave out a clear message of their power and wealth. In addition the Sumptuary Laws in force at the time forbade people from dressing above their social station.

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, Edward VI
Edward VI circa 1547

The exhibition is laid out chronologically and thematically. There are portraits of children and adults, including Europeans, to demonstrate the influences that came in from abroad. There are also depictions of seasonal and hunting costumes, armour, jewellery and other accessories.

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I in 1546 Before She Became Queen

Last, but not least, are a series of miniatures, demonstrating the further prowess of sixteenth and seventeenth century artists.

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion,
5.6cm Miniature of Henry Brandon 6th Duke of Sussex - Aged 6

Have you ever wondered why portraits of an elderly Elizabeth I present her to be as young as a modern 'older' woman who has been botoxed, surgically enhanced and airbrushed? This is because she had the power to dictate how she should be seen in an era where there were no paparazzi lurking to snap her on a bad day. Unfortunately none of these paintings are on show, so you will have to take my word for it, or do some further research for yourself
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Why? To see how royalty and aristocracy were depicted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
When: Between 10am and 5.30pm, with the last admission at 4.30pm
Where: The Queen's Gallery
Cost: 9.50, plus concessions
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