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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover


Creator: British School, 16th century (artist)
Creation Date: 
c. 1520-40
Materials and techniques: 
Oil on canvas
168.9 x 346.7 cm
OM 24
Acquirer: Henry VIII, King of England (1491-1547)
Probably painted for Henry VIII

This bright painting shows Henry VIII and his fleet setting sail from Dover to Calais on 31 May 1520 on the way to meet Francis I at The Field of Cloth of Gold. Henry VIII is shown standing on one of the vessel with golden sails in the background. The lack of artistic proprtion in depicting the size of the ships may be an intentional device to convey the impressive nature of this journey and the overwhelming magnificence of the English court. Dover castle is depicted in the upper left-hand corner, and two round gun towers in the foreground fire salutes.

The painting is not recorded in the 1542 and 1547 inventories, possibly because it was set into the walls of Whitehall Palace. It was probably commissioned by Henry VIII to commemorate the lavish event and may have been created as a companion piece to RCIN 405794.

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