I logged on for a very erudite discussion at the beginning of this week on Google+ – Art Talks: Who is the Man in Red? It was great because I could soak up all sorts of detail about Henry VIII\’s court and clothes and jewels and painting. The curators of the In Fine Style exhibition quoted my suggestion at the end – as I may have mentioned, I think I\’ve got the Man in Red nailed.
I think it was Carey\’s father as a young man – Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon and I\’ll keep saying so until somebody finds the account entry or the connection that proves it – or (OK, it\’s possible) definite evidence that it isn\’t him.
Henry Carey was the first son and second child of Mary Boleyn (The Other Boleyn Girl)
who had been married to Sir William Carey after her affair with Henry VIII finished. He was born on the 4th March 1526. Historians are sceptical about him being an illegitimate son of the King but it\’s certainly possible that he was.
Although the accounts show that Henry Fitzroy, Henry\’s acknowledged illegitimate son, had a red gown, doublet and hose, the Man in Red is clearly not him because from his miniature, Henry Fitzroy
had very little chin whereas the Man in Red has quite a long chin. Also Henry Fitzroy died in 1536 which is a little early for the portrait and style of the clothes. If you look at the portrait of Baron Hunsdon by Steven van Herwijck, painted 1561-63
I think you\’ll see that there\’s a considerable resemblance there, especially (yes) about the chin. Henry Carey too had blue eyes.
I believe it\’s possible that the portrait of a Man in Red was painted in 1545, perhaps for the occasion of Henry Carey\’s marriage to Anne Morgan on 21st May 1545 and he may even have been wearing Fitzroy\’s old outfit refashioned, seeing how expensive it was. The clothing is very much of that later Henrician style (as several experts agree). This would have been 2 years before Henry VIII\’s death and so must have been with the King\’s permission – perhaps as a way of tidying up the succession around Edward VI.
How to prove it? Well the ideal would be an entry in a the domus providenciae accounts for a portrait of Henry Carey wearing red or perhaps in his own household accounts (I\’m not sure if he was in the King\’s household or his mother\’s). Maybe the cap badge could help? It\’s a very distinctive one of a man in armour next to a large Tudor rose (significant because Hunsdon\’s coat of arms bore three silver roses on a bend). Has anybody seen that anywhere? Hunsdon and Elizabeth always got along very well and he later became the Captain of her Guard and later still her Lord Chamberlain. Did the cap badge display his devotion to the Tudor Rose – Elizabeth?