Our Work

Tarnya Cooper’s ‘Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales’

Tarnya Cooper’s book, Citizen Portrait, explores portraiture of the middling classes in the Tudor and Jacobean periods. Tarnya is now Chief Curator at the National Portrait Gallery and 16th century curator, and the book illustrates many works from the NPG collections. TSR’s reflectograms of Nicholas Heath by Hans Eworth (NPG1388) and Elizabeth I (NPG200) are featured as well as a digitised x-radiograph assembly of Margaret Craythorne from the Cutlers’ Company.

Using infrared evidence, Cooper describes workshop practice of the period, and considers the techniques necessary to capture a likeness. She describes how preliminary drawings from life could form a template to be traced onto prepared panel, both for individual commissions or to create duplicate portraits. Technical evidence is used further to discuss the practice of re-using panel supports, where infrared or x-ray imaging have revealed hidden sitters beneath another work.

Whilst setting the scene of the artists’ workshop, this book gives a much broader perspective on artistic production and consumption, considering portraits within their historical context, as a means of reflecting the sitters aspirations and religious beliefs. The book can be purchased from the National Portrait Gallery shop.