Monday, December 2, 2013

Henry VIII Upside Down is a Devil?

Even Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch thinks it could be so in this story from The Daily Mail:

When a British couple discovered a concealed, almost lifesize mural of Henry VIII while redecorating their 16th-century Somerset home a couple of years ago, they could not have been more excited, particularly when an expert spoke of its national importance. 
But husband-and-wife Angie and Rhodri Powell were unnerved by a further chance discovery.

When the portrait of Henry on his throne is viewed upside-down his features transform into the devil, with horns and goats’ eyes. The devil appears too when the mural is viewed through a glass [mirror].

The mural is in the couple's drawing-room in the village of Milverton, the former Great Hall of the summer residence of 16th-century archdeacons of Taunton including Thomas Cranmer.

While Henry’s portrait would have been an expression of loyalty, the hidden message suggests it was commissioned by someone with quite another view of a monarch who established himself as head of the Church in England in place of the Pope.

Mrs Powell, a bestselling children’s author who writes under the name Angie Safe, and Mr Powell, a former publisher, came across the devil by accident.

I wonder what happens when you play "Greensleeves" backwards?

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, a specialist in the history of the church at Oxford University and Cranmer biographer, said that there was tremendous interest in optical illusion at the time, as shown by the distorted perspectives in Holbein's famous painting of The Ambassadors and William Scrots's portrait of Edward VI.

'So there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be true,' he said.

He noted that one of the then archdeacons felt 'very equivocally' about Henry VIII’s Reformation: 'It's just possible that, for a private joke, he put it in because you could only see it through an optic. I imagine that, in the privacy of his own dining-room… it could be enjoyable.'

For obvious reasons, the painting is unsigned.

Conservator Ann Ballantyne, who is working on the mural, noted that it was painted at a time when the king was behaving 'excruciatingly badly'.

I'm really not so sure about this, but it seems to be receiving quite a lot of real attention! What do you think? Check out the photos at The Daily Mail site, and let me know.

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