Situated in the North and South Transepts are the Cathedral's magnificent Tudor panel paintings. Painted in the 16th century by Lambert Barnard (1485-1567), they represent a magnificent example of Renaissance art, and are of national importance.
The paintings are built in panels (14ft x 32ft) which are made from individual vertical oak panels being joined together with hessian and chalk glue. Due to their size and rarity they are among the most important surviving examples of Tudor painting in the country. The paintings represent an extraordinary piece of political theatre and propaganda - the image of Henry VIII on the Tudor Panels is thought to be the first full-length painted image of Henry VIII and pre-figures Hans Holbein’s famous Whitehall portrait of c. 1536 that subsequently became the iconic image of the monarch.
Believed to be the largest surviving paintings of their kind, these paintings were in urgent need of attention to secure their future. As a result of a successful appeal, for which we are incredibly grateful for the patronage of HRH the Prince of Wales, the paintings were painstakingly conserved in 2011 by the Hamilton Kerr Institute.
Taking a minimal intervention approach, the project comprised:
- Dusting and cleaning of the painted surface and moulding elements
- Minor repairs and realignment of the medieval timber
- Minimal retouching
- Consolidation of flaking paint
- Comprehensive survey using chemical and infrared analysis for the historical record
The paintings are now subject to a programme of monitoring and regular review, but as is usually the case with such fragile, panel paintings of this age, repeat treatment will inevitably be necessary in the future. However, thanks to this successful project, we anticipate that further significant conservation on these magnificent works will not be required for another 25-50 years.
This Trust funded conservation project was enabled through the generous support of many individual donors and organisations including The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Worshipful Society of Mercers, The Headley Trust, and NADFAS.