Nonsuch Palace from the South thumbnail 1
Nonsuch Palace from the South thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Paintings, Room 88a, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

Nonsuch Palace from the South

Watercolour
1568 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Nonsuch Watercolour

This watercolour by Joris Hoefnagel shows Henry VIII's remarkable Palace, an unparalleled Renaissance hunting lodge, which only stood for about one hundred and fifty years. A handful of views survive; this is the earliest and perhaps the most significant of them all. Henry conceived Nonsuch as an architectural expression of the power and supremacy of the Tudor Dynasty. Its dazzling fusion of English, French and Italian forms rivalled the newly built palaces of the French King Francis I at Fontainebleau and Chambord. In the words of the poet John Leland:

This, which no equal has in art or fame,
Britons deservedly do Nonsuch name.

Construction began on St.George's Day, 23 April 1538 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The local parish church of Cuddington, near Ewell in Surrey, was demolished to make way. This showed the king's dominance as head of the Church in England. The date was also significant; it was the thirtieth anniversary of Henry's accession to the throne, and the first birthday of his long-waited, only legitimate son, Edward.

Entering through the square gatehouse of the Outer Court with its traditional battlements, one sixteenth-century visitor to Nonsuch was 'struck senseless' by the Renaissance-inspired Inner Court. As you can see on the watercolour - look closely with the magnifying glass - the upper parts of the walls were completely covered in stucco reliefs, representing the Labours of Hercules, Roman Emperors, Classical gods and goddesses. Set amongst these carved figures, literally amongst the gods, were reliefs of Henry and son Edward. Many of the carvings were the work of the Italian sculptor Nicholas Bellin of Modena, who had worked for King Francis I at Fontainebleau. In 1959, Hoefnagel's incredibly detailed painting was shown to be surprisingly accurate. Archaeological excavations unearthed pieces of a stucco figure leaning on a shield, directly beneath the point where a similar relief is shown in the painting.

Henry died in 1547, before the palace was completed. In 1557, Mary I sold the palace to Henry FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel; the palace was in Arundel’s possession when Hoefnagel visited. In 1670 Charles II gave it to one of his mistresses, Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine. In the 1680s Barbara Villiers had the palace demolished; she used the building materials to pay her gambling debts.

he palace now exists only in written and visual representations of which Nonsuch Palace from the South is one of the most accurate as confirmed by stucco panels unearthed during 1959 archaeological excavation of the site.

Audioguide text for Treasures of the Royal Courts, 2013



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Black chalk, pen and ink, with watercolour, heightened with white and gold
Brief Description
Watercolour, Nonsuch Palace from the South, by Joris Hoefnagel, 1568
Physical Description
Nonsuch Palace from the South by the Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel is one of the earliest surviving visual records of Henry VIII’s opulent hunting lodge designed to celebrate Tudor supremacy. The artist successfully captured a blend of traditional English architecture and classically-inspired elements such as the spiral columns. Hoefnagel meticulously reproduced the framed stucco panels that lined the palace walls. With fine lines of black pen heightened with white, the artist illustrated the moulded high-relief panels depicting Roman emperors, gods and goddesses as well as the Labours of Hercules. Hoefnagel then balanced the exquisite detail of Nonsuch Palace with the sweeping countryside in muted hues of green and brown. Hoefnagel utilised this drawing for an engraving in the fifth volume of Civitates Orbis Terarum, an atlas of towns, in which Nonsuch Palace received a dedicated plate, a credit to its fame.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 24.2cm
  • Estimate width: 26.3cm
Style
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Joris Hoefnagle van Antwerpen
  • Palatium Regium In Anglie Regno quod appellatire Nonciutz quasi nusquam simile. – Londini A.o 1568:2
Gallery Label
Nonsuch Palace from the south 1568 As the name suggests, Nonsuch Palace in Surry was Henry VIII's most magnificent palace. It was begun in 1538 to celebrate the 30th year of his reign and to project the glory of the Tudor dynasty. The elaborate decoration introduced important elements of Renaissance design to England. The palace was demolished during the late 17th century. England By Joris Hoefnagel Black chalk, pen and brown and black ink, and watercolour, heightened with white and gold, on paper (28/02/2013)
Credit line
Purchased with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund (with a contribution from The Wolfson Foundation) and the Michael Marks Charitable Trust.

Object history
Alfred Morrison (1821-1897), Fonthill House, Wiltshire, and by descent; offered for sale at Christies’, 7 December 2010; bought in; on loan to the V&A from 16 May 2013 – 11 November 2014; subject to export license stop 1 March 2016, purchased by the V&A with the support of the national Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund.
Place Depicted
Associations
Summary
Nonsuch Watercolour



This watercolour by Joris Hoefnagel shows Henry VIII's remarkable Palace, an unparalleled Renaissance hunting lodge, which only stood for about one hundred and fifty years. A handful of views survive; this is the earliest and perhaps the most significant of them all. Henry conceived Nonsuch as an architectural expression of the power and supremacy of the Tudor Dynasty. Its dazzling fusion of English, French and Italian forms rivalled the newly built palaces of the French King Francis I at Fontainebleau and Chambord. In the words of the poet John Leland:



This, which no equal has in art or fame,

Britons deservedly do Nonsuch name.



Construction began on St.George's Day, 23 April 1538 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The local parish church of Cuddington, near Ewell in Surrey, was demolished to make way. This showed the king's dominance as head of the Church in England. The date was also significant; it was the thirtieth anniversary of Henry's accession to the throne, and the first birthday of his long-waited, only legitimate son, Edward.



Entering through the square gatehouse of the Outer Court with its traditional battlements, one sixteenth-century visitor to Nonsuch was 'struck senseless' by the Renaissance-inspired Inner Court. As you can see on the watercolour - look closely with the magnifying glass - the upper parts of the walls were completely covered in stucco reliefs, representing the Labours of Hercules, Roman Emperors, Classical gods and goddesses. Set amongst these carved figures, literally amongst the gods, were reliefs of Henry and son Edward. Many of the carvings were the work of the Italian sculptor Nicholas Bellin of Modena, who had worked for King Francis I at Fontainebleau. In 1959, Hoefnagel's incredibly detailed painting was shown to be surprisingly accurate. Archaeological excavations unearthed pieces of a stucco figure leaning on a shield, directly beneath the point where a similar relief is shown in the painting.



Henry died in 1547, before the palace was completed. In 1557, Mary I sold the palace to Henry FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel; the palace was in Arundel’s possession when Hoefnagel visited. In 1670 Charles II gave it to one of his mistresses, Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine. In the 1680s Barbara Villiers had the palace demolished; she used the building materials to pay her gambling debts.



he palace now exists only in written and visual representations of which Nonsuch Palace from the South is one of the most accurate as confirmed by stucco panels unearthed during 1959 archaeological excavation of the site.



Audioguide text for Treasures of the Royal Courts, 2013



Bibliographic References
  • The Renaissance at Sutton Place, exh.cat. 18 May-15 September 1983, no.91-95
  • Biddle, Martin, 1981. The Stuccoes of Nonsuch. Burlington Magazine, 126(976), pp. 411-417, figs. 21-2.
  • Jackson-Stops, Gervase (ed.) The Treasure houses of Britain : five hundred years of private patronage and art collecting. Washington D.C. : National Gallery of Art, 1985.p.409, cat. 342
  • Olga Dmitrieva and Tessa Murdoch (eds.), Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts & The Russian Tsars, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2013, pp.13, 173
  • Colvin, Sir Howard Montagu, The History of the King’s Works, IV. (London: HMSO 1963). pp 196-199.
  • Dent, John.The Quest for Nonsuch, 2nd ed. (London: Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1981) p. 19.
  • Kauffman, G. 1970. Die Kunst des 16. Jahrhunderts. Propyläen Kunstgeschichte 8, (Berlin 1970) pp. 379-380. pl. 390.
Other Number
LOAN:PDP ANON.1-2013 - Previous loan number
Collection
Accession Number
E.2781-2016

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record createdSeptember 6, 2016
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