Tudor Art

As the Medieval Period ended a new Tudor dynasty took control of England | Tudor period 1485 – 1603 includes Elizabethan Era

Tudor Dynasty Badge

The Royal Badge of the Tudor Dynasty

According to Historians “England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors” than at any time since the Roman occupation!

The Tudor period in England which lasted from 1485 to 1603 was a period of transition in every way. In terms of art, it marked a transition from medieval to English Renaissance.

Medieval Clothing - Medieval Tudor Clothes

Family of Henry VIII 1545

During this period, religious artwork became virtually extinct while direct European art trends didn’t exert as great a role on art in England as they previously did.

Consequently, the predominant types of art forms during the Tudor period came to be architecture, portraiture, jewelry, metalwork, and tapestries.

Tudor Art Characteristics

Tudor art was marked by lavish extravagance, as is reflected in Tudor architecture which differed from pre-Tudor architecture in that it emphasized the use of extensive architectural decorations, multiple chimneys, elaborately designed windows, half-timber work, and numerous other embellishing features.


Tudor Period Building

The same trend was reflected in other arts such as portraiture during the Tudor period in which elaborate iconography was a regular part of the portraits of the nobility.

Following England’s break with the Catholic Church during the Tudor period and the subsequent Reformation, religious themes largely became absent from Tudor art, and artists frequently experimented with secular themes.

Protestant Reformation Life of Martin Luther

Image depicts the Protestant Reformation Life of Martin Luther

Tudor Portraiture

In the absence of religious buildings and art in the Tudor era, portraiture became one of the most widely practiced forms of art.

Artists, both from England and from the Continent, were frequently commissioned by the Tudor court as well as by the English nobility to create portraits of them.

King Henry viii Tudor King England 2

The nature of the portraits as made in Tudor England varied greatly. Some of them were made as informal representations of the persons in question while other were highly formal depictions of Tudor monarchs.

A related genre of art that flourished in the Tudor period was that of miniature portraits and paintings which were frequently commissioned by Tudor monarchs.


Important Facts

  • Tudor art was recognizable by decorative motifs, extravagant iconography in portraiture, secular themes, and lavish embellishments in architecture.
  • Tudor art originated during the period of the Tudor dynasty’s rule in England.
  • Tudor art dates from 1485 to 1603 during which England was ruled by Tudor monarchs.
  • Tudor art was influenced by art traditions from the north of the British Isles as well as the ideals of the Reformation.
  • Tudor art can be seen in modern-day England.

Tudor Tapestries

During the reign of the Tudor monarch, Henry VIII, the art of embroidery underwent a significant revival. This was primarily because of Henry’s extraordinary interest in tapestries.

During his reign, he had some 2000 tapestries, many of which he commissioned during his lifetime.

The art form underwent decline during the Elizabethan era when portraiture became the more royally-patronized genre of art.


The Triumph of Fame Tudor Tapestry


Hampton Court Palace *Story of Abraham Tapestries

Tudor Art 5 Examples

  1. The Rainbow Portrait dates back to 1600 and depicts Queen Elizabeth in a portrait with a lot of iconographies.
  2. The Manuscript Portrait of Henry VIII dates back to 1525.
  3. The Story of Abraham dates back to the mid-16th century and is an excellent example of embroidery during the Tudor era.
  4. The Portrait of Jane Seymour dates back to 1536 and is another example of Tudor-era portraiture.
  5. The Coram Rege Rolls dates back to 1554 and are an example of the illuminated manuscripts of the Tudor era.