George of Clarence gets a makeover….
Well, perhaps ‘makeover’ isn’t quite right, because he’s been flattered by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Musician. See above. There again, perhaps I do George an injustice by saying he’s been flattered, because we don’t know what he looked like, only that he had Edward IV and Richard III for brothers. So, I think it would be safe to say he was good-looking. I can’t be proved wrong, that’s for sure.
Anyway, as I have droned on for some time about my liking for tweaking the paintings of great masters to suit my own ends, but George of Clarence has been eluding me. He is the invisible York brother, and there is now a debate about whether he, not Richard, was the small one of the family.
I have looked and looked for a suitable portrait that would fit my idea of him. Then, yesterday, I came upon this da Vinci masterpiece. And yes, I set about it. Disgraceful, did I hear you say? The hair was my main target. It was much much longer in the original portrait, and has curl detail around the face, nowhere else. The original also wears a bright red skull cap, which didn’t go with my notion of George.
George was a bit of a firework, we do know that, and he clearly felt that he had a good claim to Edward IV’s throne. Maybe he found something out that gave him this idea. Whatever, he deserted Edward and went over to his father-in-law, the great Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, whom we know as ‘The Kingmaker’. George believed Warwick would put him on the throne. Instead, Warwick backed him for a while, and then decided to go over to the Lancastrian side, and support Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou’s son, the Prince of Wales. George’s hopes were dashed at a stroke.
He returned to Edward IV, who took him back into the fold. But the death of George’s wife, Isabel Neville, was too much for his increasingly fragile state of mind. If that is indeed what happened to him. Certainly he became more troublesome to Edward, who eventually had enough. George was executed for treason in the Tower of London. Legend has it that he was drowned in a butt of his favourite tipple, Malmsey.
The above is a very potted history of George of Clarence’s downfall, and I do not claim to be a historian!
When I look at the face of the man above, I think that he could well be George. There is something rather haunted and sad about him. Poor George. His was not a happy life. He was probably his own worst enemy, but I rather like him.