My friends and I were standing in front of a portrait of Oliver Cromwell at the Tudors to Windsors portrait exhibition at the art gallery in Bendigo. .
As I often do, I added my own commentary. In a posh English accent and lower vocal register, I quipped, “Look at me being all godly and humble and unroyal and stuff before I go and kill a bunch of people and destroy all the monasteries… you know, on God’s behalf.”
A well-dressed elderly gentleman had come to stand beside me. When I finished speaking, he added in a crisp, upper class accent: “Bastard.”
He was not wrong.
This afternoon I visited the Bendigo Arr Gallery to see this amazing exhibition of royal portraits and memorabilia from the English royals dating from 1485 to the present day.
In one way, it was a little surreal: I have seen these paintings in history books, and the more recent photographs were familiar because I had seen them online or in magazines, so it was really strange to think I was seeing the originals.
In addition to being a most enjoyable and interesting gallery experience, it made me feel more connected to the history I have read and studied for so many years.
I really loved seeing the Tudor portraits, especially Elizabeth I whom I admire enormously, but found them all quite fascinating. Some of the portraits definitely felt more intimate and personal, while others had that sense of grandeur and formality that one might expect from a royal portrait. There was a good representation of men in stockings and garters, and some fabulously royal big hair.
It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon among royalty without having to dress up or curtsey to anyone.
If you get a chance to see this exhibition, I highly recommend it.