Monday, November 22, 2010

Henry VIII's lost palace : Watercolour expected £1.2 million.

Henry VIII's lost palace: For sale, £1.2m watercolour of fabled mansion

Last updated at 7:56 PM on 22nd November 2010

It was said no other king’s residence could equal its magnificence. Yet this watercolour is almost all that remains of Henry VIII’s lost palace.
Built by the king to outshine his greatest rival, King Francis of France, the extravagant building was meant to make a huge architectural statement.
Instead, it acquired almost mythical status as, despite its contemporary fame, it was ripped down after just 150 years by Charles II’s mistress to pay off her gambling debts.
Lost world: The 1572 watercolour of Nonsuch Palace by Joris Hoefnagel is our only way to know how it looked
It had only ever been painted four times.
This 450-year-old picture, expected to fetch up to £1.2million when sold at Christie’s next month, is believed to show the true likeness of the palace, named Nonsuch as it was said no other could rival its beauty.
Home: King Henry VIII wanted to outdo the French
Home: King Henry VIII wanted to outdo the French
But even Joris Hoefnagel’s painting has only been seen twice in public.
It is one of the oldest watercolours in the country and was painted at the palace near Ewell, in Surrey.
In the late 19th century, it was acquired by art connoisseur Alfred Morrison and passed down his family. It is being sold by a private vendor.
The painting captures the ornate building as it was in the 16th century, shortly after it was completed.
Benjamin Peronnet, of Christie’s, said: ‘There are only four contemporary depictions that are known to survive. Of these, the watercolour to be offered at Christie’s is the earliest, and the only one to show a true impression of the “lost” palace. It was a hunting residence so it was not meant to be as big as Hampton Court, for example. But it was meant to make a big statement in terms of architecture and to show the English in competition with the French.
‘It was so accurate it was used by those excavating it. So little was known of the palace that it had become almost mythical.’
The palace’s cost is unknown, but £24,536 of work was done in the first seven years.
It was finished shortly after Henry’s death in 1547.
The extravagance of Henry VIII

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