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Henry, Lord Darnley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darnley & LennoxLord Darnley (1545-67) and his younger brother Charles (1555-76) were the sons of Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, and Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, a granddaughter of Henry VII and niece of Henry VIII. The Countess probably commissioned this double portrait in 1562, at around the time of Lord Darnley’s seventeenth birthday. Being of royal blood, the handsome Darnley was considered a very suitable consort for the recently widowed Mary, Queen of Scots, and they were married at Holyrood Chapel in 1565. Almost from the start, the marriage was turbulent and Darnley’s involvement in the murder of Mary’s close confidant and musician, David Rizzio, sealed their unhappiness. Darnley was murdered in mysterious circumstances in 1567. He is buried in the vaults of the Royal Chapel at Holyrood. The greatest legacy of this brief marriage was their son James, who was later crowned James VI and I, uniting the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603.

The two brothers, dressed in black, are depicted standing by a table in a wood panelled room. Lord Darnley, with a watch around his neck and holding gloves in his left hand, rests his right hand on the shoulder of his younger brother, Charles, who holds a cap in his left hand. Like most Tudor and Jacobean portraiture, the painting focuses on the attire, jewellery and heraldry that indicate the wealth and high status of the sitters. This portrait was commissioned with an eye to posterity and ancestral pride.

 

 

 

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017