Tudor and Stuart fashion on show in Edinburgh

A NUMBER of artworks never previously displayed in Scotland will go on show as part of a new exhibition documenting the opulent fashions of the Tudor and Stuart elite.
Pictures: PAPictures: PA
Pictures: PA

Paintings, drawings and jewellery from the Royal Collection will be displayed alongside rare pieces of clothing from the 16th and 17th centuries in the show at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Gallery.

At the heart of the exhibition will be portraits of three generations of Scottish kings and queens - James V (1512-42), his daughter Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), and her son James VI of Scotland and I of England (1566-1625).

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Anna Reynolds, the Royal Collection Trust’s curator of paintings, said: “Portraits of the 16th and 17th centuries show that this was a time when luxurious clothing and extravagant jewels were hugely important components of court life - and the Stuarts were at the forefront of this fashionable world.”

Wealth, status

For the wealthy Tudor and Stuarts, garments and accessories - and the way in which they were worn - conveyed important messages about wealth, gender, age, social position, marital status and religion.

In the exhibition, a portrait by an anonymous British artist from about 1540 shows James V in his late twenties, wearing clothes that leave no doubt over his wealth and royal status.

He is pictured dressed in a gown with sleeves made of cloth of gold - a fabric woven with expensive gold-wrapped thread - and a red collar encrusted with hundreds of pearls.

In a painting by French artist Francois Clouet from around 1560, Mary, Queen of Scots is pictured dressed in white aristocratic mourning clothes known as “en deuil blanc”.

James VI and I was notoriously neglectful of his own appearance, despite being shown wearing a pale blue doublet in a portrait by Nicholas Hilliard from between 1609 and 1615.

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Various other artworks on show also depict the 17th-century fashion for women to adopt elements of masculine dress in what they wore.

As early as 1620, James VI was said to have been so perturbed by the trend that he ordered the matter to be raised in church sermons.

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Key pieces of Tudor and Stuart jewellery will be on display at the exhibition, including the Darnley or Lennox Jewel from the 1570s - a gold heart-shaped locket set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

Rare surviving examples of Tudor and Stuart clothing are also on show, including a brown silk-satin doublet from the 1620s, thought to have been worn by Charles I, and a brightly-coloured woman’s waistcoat, richly decorated with embroidered flowers and butterflies, from a similar period.

The exhibition, called In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, will run at the gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse from tomorrow until July 20.