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A deck of cards with royal portraits….?


My recent article about finding Richard in an illustration prompted some interesting comments, including one by timetravellingbunny concerning other known portraits of him.

She writes that among the list of such believed likenesses, is speculation that he is the Knave of Horns in the contemporary Flemish deck of cards, known as the Cloisters deck . It seems there is no proof that the portraits are of 15th century royals, but the author of this link presents a good argument to the fact.

Thank you timetravellingbunny for reminding me of these cards, in which the following illustration is (possibly) another likeness of Richard.




The Earl of Lincoln, courtesy of Titian – and an author’s imagination….

Looking through Google images, I have come upon various uses of my tweaked version of Titian, whose masterpiece, Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap, I was impudent enough to ‘adapt’ into my idea of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. Sorry Titian. Anyway, I’ve always been pleased with the result, so I thought I’d explain how it came about.

Writers of historical fiction always have to picture their characters. Well, all writers do, of course, but for historical fiction, featuring actual persons, one has to pay attention to known portraits and descriptions. We all know what Richard III and Henry VII looked like, and Margaret Beaufort. Even Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York have their famous likenesses. My main character, Cicely Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV, is thought to have been like the picture below – well, maybe, since she and all her sisters are portrayed in exactly the same way. Peas in a Yorkist pod.


Were they really all so uniformly fair and golden? Or was this image merely an ideal? Thomas More described her as ‘not so fortunate as fair’, but I think the ‘fair’ refers to good looks rather than golden hair.

But other important men and women are still entirely unknown to us visually, obliging an author to ‘invent’ their appearance. One of these men was Richard III’s trusted nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. John was the eldest son of Richard’s sister, Elizabeth, and the 2nd Duke of Suffolk, another John de la Pole. He was said to have been Richard’s choice as heir, and certainly he was worthy, but what do we really know about him? He was an important lord, but his looks, thoughts, character, family life and so on are a mystery. To me, at least. Maybe there is a wealth of information about him, in which case, someone please tell me how to see it.

So I needed to give him an appearance that would fit with the character I had created. After looking around for a suitable portrait to tinker with, I came upon Titian’s Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap. Perfect. Well, apart from the red cap and the main clothes, which do not fit a young aristocrat who died in 1487. So please overlook the fashion. The rest of my changes have recreated, to me, the dashing Jack de la Pole of my books.

Whether it conjures your idea of Lincoln is a matter of choice. Maybe you see him as big, brawny and blond, or red-haired and freckled, with a snub nose. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.


Richard’s portraits and scoliosis….



While searching for the actor Ben Miller’s association with scoliosis (he had a corrective operation when a child) I came upon the following article, which (I think) he has written. If not, there is another Ben Miller.

The item was written in December 2014, but is full of interest concerning Richard’s portraits, tree-ring dating, the fact that portraits of Richard and Edward IV are from the same tree, and so on. Well worth a read.

A Scottish Consort is identified

Late last year, we showed how James VI/I’s grandfathers, James V and Matthew Earl of Lennox, shared the same Y-chromosome. Now there is some facial reconstruction news about his father, Henry Lord Darnley:Darnley

A student at the University of Dundee, which reconstructed Richard’s face after his identification, has provided the same service for Darnley (above). In this case, however, Emma Price had to judge between two potential skulls for the short-serving Scottish consort, one of which no longer exists although a written description of it does. It is the latter, judging by known portraits, that correctly pertains to the husband and cousin of Queen Mary.

One day, might the Tudor monster HAVE to finally give way to the real Richard III?….

Mona Mona Lisa....

There is, apparently, a second, equally as genuine, version of the Mona Lisa. I know which one I prefer, and it’s not the one we always see, which makes me think it’s a rather dissolute  young man. (Yes, I do mean dissolute, because that is how ‘he’ strikes me.) But if da Vinci did indeed paint two versions of the same subject/pose, it makes me wonder if there might be another portrait of Richard III waiting to be found.

Mean Richard and Mystery Crown

Oh, if only! A contemporary likeness of Richard! How happy we’d be, because we  know now, thanks to Philippa Langley, John Ashdown-Hill & Co., that it would bear little resemblance to the ‘doctored’ portraits we’ve had to endure. Uneven shoulders, yes, but not a hump or fingers like claws. Without the mean eyes, compressed lips or menacing air of murderous intent, he’d be a truly handsome, aristocratic young man. Just Richard as he really was.

Well, Richard’s remains have been found….which not long ago seemed an absolutely impossible quest….so why not a long-forgotten portrait, preferably by a master?

We can dream, of course, and in the meantime there is this relatively short article about the two Mona Lisa portraits. If it turns out to be a hoax, I apologise in advance! But it did stir my grey cells, and set the Ricardian in me hoping.


An impertinent view of Richard’s father…

Richard of York and his teeth


Surely I can’t be the only one to look at this famous likeness of Richard’s father, the Duke of York, and see two goofy front teeth….? <g> Yes, yes, I know it’s his lower lip, but I’m afraid that since the thought struck me, those two ‘front teeth’ are all I see. Can you imagine him issuing orders on the battlefield? Would he whistle through the gap? OK, OK, too much flippancy and irreverence. I’ll shut up.

Who is this a portrait of?

It is reputed to be Jane, who was executed in February 1554 at the age of about seventeen. She looks a little older than that to us, but teenagers’ dress sense has changed in the space of 460 years and most of her portraits date from at least forty years after her lifetime.

This, by an unknown artist in about 1590 and inscribed “Lady Jayne”, is known as the Streatham Portrait but was purchased in Ipswich between 1890 and 1910 by a regular customer of Green’s, a bookseller and antique dealer based near the Central Library until comparatively recently. It can be viewed at the National Portrait Gallery but has been the subject of controversy since its rediscovery. Leading art dealer Christopher Foley has authenticated it but David Starkey disagrees. Of course, it may not be the original.

So what do you think?

Yet another tiresome jab at Richard….

Here’s one to avoid, I think. The picture with the Times Literary Supplement review is the Delaroche daub of the two golden-haired little angels cowering on their bed in dread of Wicked Uncle Richard’s murderous intentions. Natch. Such an appealing little scene, is it not? Why are so many people utterly determined to pin such crimes on Richard? As for him being a bad king…! That is such a preposterously incorrect judgement that it’s almost laughable.
This sort of book only hardens my resolve to support Richard, and I’m sure it will have the same effect on everyone else of an enlightened frame of mind. Onward and upward, my friends. We’ll vindicate our king in the end!
So I’ve posted this with a shamelessly Arthurian view of Richard. Sir Galahad at the very least. Here’s one in the eye for Mr Horspool!

The morphing of Richard III….

from tigerlight430 - portrait  tigerlight430 - Channel 4 reconstruction tighterlight430 - morphRichard smiling - my work

I first came upon this morphed picture of Richard way back in May 2013, or perhaps a few months earlier, and having recently seen it again, I decided to post about where I found it. While searching for as many likenesses of Richard as I could, the morph suddenly popped up on screen. It was astonishingly lifelike, and totally different from the National Portrait Gallery portrait. And yet the same, if you know what I mean. The NPG portrait had become flesh and blood.

My find was at, a site belonging to Paul Ferguson. I was eager to use the picture, but my enquiry received no reply. As it was published publicly and I couldn’t see any mention of copyright, I went ahead and used it. Eventually I twiddled it so that Richard was looking at the viewer and smiled just a little. Not everyone will like it, of course.

Since then I have learned that someone else had the same idea as Paul. Olivia Nagioff at the Society published a morph in August 2013, and compiled a brief video to show how she did it. (see and The sequence is almost eerily alive. And yet reassuring. Only Richard’s enemies would find him dark or frightening! To everyone else he was and is someone we can only admire.

Anyway, the pictures above are: The NPG portrait, the reconstruction as shown on Channel Four, then Paul’s morph. The final one, looking at you and smiling, is my twiddle.

A highly recommended blog, with maybe even a newly recognised likeness of Richard…

Luton Guild Book - Richard in green top left, George maybe in blue, with Buckingham

I draw attention to the blog at…/20/anne-nevilles-portraits/

It is not mine, I hasten to say, although I wish it were. It contains not only possible portraits of Anne Neville, her sister Isabel and various other prominent ladies of Edward IV’s court, but also likenesses that may well be Richard and George. Maybe even Buckingham standing next to them, although that is my guess, not the blogger’s. Nothing can be said to be definite, but it all seems very likely to me. So many appreciative thanks to Dragonhound/Leena of Needletwig.

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