ENGLAND, circa 1520
A constructed panel comprising several layers of Baltic oak boards. Full dendrochronoligical analysis report available on request.
D. Jacques, Librarian of Goodwood, ‘A Visit to Goodwood, near Chichester, the seat of His Grace the Duke of Richmond with an Appendix, descriptive of an ancient painting.’ (William Mason, Chichester, 1822).
‘The Bognor, Arundel and Littlehampton Guide, Comprising a History of those Places, and of the Castle of Arundel; with topographical notices of the Villages of Aldwick, Pagham, Northmundham, Selsey, Felpham, Middleton, Yapton, Walberton, Slindon, Bartham, Boxgrove, &c. &c. with a Full Description of Good House and of the Roman Remains at Bignor’ (William Mason, Chichester, 1828, p. 150).
The 1903 Inventory of Goodwood House in the Long Hall.
Country Life Picture Library, photo no. 4726468 of the Long Hall at Goodwood, situated above the door.
The influence of the Florentine Rennaissance in Tudor England
While it is not currently possible to identify the carver of this exceptional panel, the influence of the Florentine sculptors working in London for Henry VIII and his Court is plain to see. The King’s desire to make an impact amongst other European monarchs led to painters and sculptors being commissioned to create new interiors for Royal Palaces to impress – and compete with – visiting diplomats and foreign royalty. Cardinal Wolseley commissioned Benedetto de Rovezzano to design and produce his tomb. It was later adopted by Henry VIII and ultimately broken up but Rovezzano’s columns for the tomb still exist and are currently found in Ghent. The decorative motifs employed on the columns relate very closely to many of those on the present panel showing the strong influence of Florentine technique and design. Unfortunately evidence of named carvers in England and surviving work c.1500-50 is insufficiently aligned to attribute fine carving to an individual workshop, but contrast can be drawn with the less sophisticated carving from apparently English sources of the same period; notably the Beckingham Hall carved panelling at the V&A (Museum no. W.33-1912) for example.
History of Ownership:
The earliest reference to the King John panel being at Goodwood, and noting its provenance from Halnaker House, was in 1822: In D. Jacques, ‘A Visit to Goodwood near Chichester the seat of His Grace the Duke of Richmond’ (Chichester, 1822), p. 45, in a list of paintings and other works of art at Goodwood: ‘An ancient carving in wood, gilt and inscribed “King John,” brought from the old mansion at Halnaker.’ Later, in 1828, in Chapter X on Halnaker in ‘The Bognor, Arundel and Littlehampton Guide, etc.’ (William Mason, Chichester, 1828, p. 150), it states: ‘At Goodwood is an ancient carving in wood, gilt, and inscribed “King John,” which was carried away from this mansion.’ Halnaker was abandoned as a lordly residence in the 1750s and fell into a state of decay, so it is natural to suppose that the panel might have moved around that time. It is now a ruin. Halnaker was known for its elaborate panelling in the Hall and S.H. Grimm painted watercolours of these in the late 18th Century. Whilst these paintings contain some panels of a similar shape, this panel is not featured. Between 1498 and 1540, the de la Warr’s had ownership of Halnaker, and Henry VIII and Edward VI both visited the estate whilst on progress. Halnaker was in fact owned by Henry from 1540 until his death, but there is little evidence that he used it and no records of any panelling commissioned there unfortunately.
This panel is noted as situated in the Long Hall in an inventory of Goodwood House, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Richmond, in 1903: ‘an antique carved wood and gilt panel, 29 x 23 ins, with Coat of Arms and masks in relief & in the centre a representation of King John with the Orb & Sceptre’. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s (V&A’s) website notes: ‘a panel…known as the King John panel was at Goodwood House, Gloucestershire until 1939 but is thought to have disappeared during the war years.’
Two other panels depicting Kings of closely related compositions are known. One is in the collection of the Museum of London, and is a representation of King Stephen. It is thought to have originally formed part of a decorative frieze in Winchester House, the London residence built in the 1500s by Lord Treasurer, Sir William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, within the precincts of the dissolved friary. This panel was recoloured and gilded in 1912 (http://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/454020.html). However, close examination of the Museum of London panel seems to suggest a much less accomplished carver and a less ambitious design to the other two panels. The similarity of overall composition is nonetheless undeniable, so it is probable that they do share some history at some point.
The second panel is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum (Museum Number: 1585-1855). It is dated 1540-50 and was acquired by the Museum in 1855 (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O77431/panel-winchester-william-paulet/).
All three panels are the same size. Our panel and the V&A’s panel share foliated scrolls with horse head terminals, shields carved with the lions (or leopards) of England, and identical surrounds to the central figure.
Subject Matter: The V&A notes explain that these panels might represent the ‘Nine Worthies’, which were often associated with scenes of justice. Traditionally, the ‘Nine Worthies’ included three Pagans: Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar; three Jews: Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus; and three Christians: Arthur, Charlemagne and Godefroi de Bouillon. This was a popular decorative theme in grand houses in England and Europe during the 16th Century and suites were designed by the finest artists and engravers of the day, including Hans Burgkmair, Daniel Hopfer, Lucas van Leyden, Cornelis van Oostsanen, the monogrammist MG, Virgil Solis, Maarten van Heemskerck and Nicolaes de Bruyn, Maarten de Vos and Antonio Tempesta. A less familiar set was engraved by Nicolaes de Bruyn, and individual figures also appear in single prints, for instance in a titlepage border by Hans Holbein, Michael Kirmer, Conrad Hildebrand and Johann Hauer [see A. Wells-Cole, ‘Art & Decoration in Elizabethan & Jacobean England’ (1997), p. 115]. Prints and engravings of the Nine Worthies inspired decorative schemes in England throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and so their identification with these panels is understandable.
First, the regalia with which they are furnished is stylised, but bears a resemblance to that with which English kings were furnished in printed works which pre-dated this panel. John Rastell (1468 – 1536, Sir Thomas More’s brother-in-law) published ‘The Pastyme of People or The Cronycles of Englande and of Dyvers other realmys’ [STC 20724], in 1529/1530, a chronicle which included the novelty of single page woodcut illustrations of every King of England since the Conquest, rendering them with orbs, sceptres and swords very like those which appear on this series of panels. In addition, their crowns – coronet like, rather than arched or enclosed – bear alternating fleur-de-lis and either trefoils or crosses in their upper band, as do the crowns to the three busts in this, the V&A’s and the Museum of London’s panel.
Giles Godet’s ‘A Brief Abstract of the Genealogie and Race of All the Kynges of England’ [1552 [STC 10022], which drew on Rastell, a Dutch work of 1534 (Alle De Coninghen, in Enghelant) also containing portraits of English kings, and another – lost – work which is known to have influenced all three, depicts Richard I with a clasp on his cloak very like the cherub clasp to the figure in the panel in the V&A.
It is the heraldry, however, which most compellingly suggests that these panels may well represent English kings. The Museum of London panel, later painted with the title ‘King Stephen’, probably does represent him. The symbol given in the shields flanking his roundel is a single equine centaur or ‘sagittary’, which is known to have been one of the personal badges that King Stephen used. Rastell’s ‘The Pastyme of People’ shows Stephen standing beneath a shield charged with three ‘sagittarii’.
‘Fifty Masterpieces of Woodwork’ (Victoria & Albert Museum, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1955), no. 18 notes that the heraldry to these panels is explicitly English, in that the central bust is flanked by ‘a crowned shield bearing three lions passant guardant, from the Royal Arms of Henry VIII’. The same shields flank the bust in the panel offered here. The motifs to the shield are, indeed, the three lions passant guardant of the Royal Arms, and it is true that during the 16th century it was commonplace, if not de rigueur, for gentle and aristocratic families to display the Royal Arms in their homes, but to say that these are the lions passant guardant from the arms of Henry VIII is open to a different interpretation. True, his arms did encompass these three lions passant guardant in the first and fourth quarters, but his arms also featured in the second and third quarters the three fleur-de-lys of France, representing the English claim to the French throne.
The three lions were first used by Richard I (or Lionheart) from c. 1198 and used by his successors until 1340. That is to say that they were used by King John (1199 – 1216), Henry III (1216 – 1272), Edward I (1272 – 1307), Edward II (1307 – 1327), and Edward III (1327 – 1377) until 1340. In Rastell’s ‘Pastyme’, this convention is observed, with Stephen given three sagittarii, and his successors up until Edward II the three lions passant guardant. Godet, following Rastell, Alle de Coninghen and another, now lost, English source, follows the same pattern in 1552 [see H. Dragstra, ‘Between Customer and Court: A Brief Abstract of the Genealogie and Race of All the Kynges of England and its Lost Source’ in The Library, 7th Series, Volume 9, No. 2 (June 2008)].
The concept of the Divine Right of Kings suited the political motives of Henry VIII and the illustration of the succession of the monarchy helped to reinforce this ideology. The series of mural portraits of English monarchs in roundels by Lambert Barnard are reinforcing the “pedigree” of the monarch, and it is possible that the scheme to which this panel belonged, was using images of past kings to reinforce the sense of monarchical power in the present.