Hazel: That painting. I’d never seen that painting before and the way it was displayed was so dramatic; set with a red wall and she’s in the red dress, and strawberry blonde hair and would call it now. That was very dramatic. And I think you’re quite rightly say that with private collections contributing to it added another level. Because they know it’s an important subject , it’s an important story to tell.
Danielle: Exactly. And I think kind of the curators, every exhibition needs to be commended on this. Just the sheer task of looking for these items and thinking about security, where to place it and just gathering it and the way that they’ve used it to tell the Queen’s lives.
Paintings of Elizabeth I
I mean, kind of going back to this painting, for example, just kind of at the very end of the exhibition, I think really exemplifies the Gloriana myth around Elizabeth that even kind of in the 1590s, 1600s, when she’s much older, we have to remember when she dies. I think she’s about 60. And it’s in the 1590s when Elizabeth faces the greatest years. There’s conflict of Ireland, there’s famine, there’s lots of problems. We get these images of Elizabeth, kind of towards the end of the reign, and she’s remembered for, you know, her golden age, the great Elizabeth, and there is this fantastic portrait, other portrait of Elizabeth called the rainbow portrait. And seeing that painting of her in the beautiful, stunning, vibrant, very rich dress made me think about that as well. And kind of other collections that you can use to tell this story.
Hazel: I thought that was just fantastic and it really kind of taps into these like key elements and key themes of this period. Another thing that I have in light is seeing the handwriting could be the signatures. But just because, because of historical figures, you learn about them at school. There are a presence in our history. And so we carry them. But when you actually see how they’ve written and especially when she writes to James I you do get that sense of a real person. You don’t get just by watching a documentary or reading it, perhaps, paraphrased it a book, for example, and to see it real as well, you know, the ink on that parchment that got me very excited.
Danielle: I think it’s definitely humanises them. I have to say, whenever I see signatures from monarchs, I’m like “this is so cool. Like they’ve touched this.” And there really isn’t an element of that, but I do think you are right. It doesn’t humanise them the way that they sign off the way that they refer to each other as sisters.
One of the things I did really like Mary Queen of Scots letters is that they’re written. In French. And of course she becomes queen very, very young, but she does go to France. So it’s quite interesting to kind of see that element. She’s basically being brought up in France and, I assume, spoke fluent French. So I find it absolutely interesting that she’s writing in French.
I do have to have to say with their writing it does take a certain set of skills to, to read them. You need to be trained in paleography. So there were points where I thought, oh I think the exhibition was so accessible. I thought it was great. The descriptions they gave, I thought the audible points were fantastic. You know, you can hear Elizabeth Tilbury speech, for example, but I definitely, I was like, oh, it’d be really great to have a few, some transcriptions. People if they, if they are really interested in a particular letter, what the subject matter is, is explained.
It would be really cool actually to be able to read it line by line. But I regard, regardless of art, I think it’s still so impressive to see, to see the script and see how they wrote and see all these wonderful letter exchanges. For example, there’s loads of correspondence, which. Really great. And kind of demonstrating Anglo Scottish relations in this period.
And of course, as I was saying to you, before we, before we started, it is absolutely fantastic to see in the early stages of the exhibition, that poem about the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York by the Italian. Geeky. I’ve probably mispronounced that. So I do apologise. But even kind of seeing that script and seeing how it changes over time, I thought was it’s fascinating.