Last week I was fortunate to a preview the latest 'Line of Kings' exhibition at the Tower of London [see Line of Kings: the Oldest Exhibition in the World ]. Against a clear blue sky the White Tower looked stunning, the perfect setting to set the mood for this historic attraction.
In this exhibition you will see suits of armour, including two worn by King Henry VIII, as well as life-sized horses, carved in the 1690's to display equine armour. For me it is these figures that steal the show. Because of their great age, over 300 years old, these horses are now too fragile to support the weight of armour they were originally intended to carry, but in their own right they are beautiful sculptures.
The poses of the horses are striking and a wonderfully insightful blog post on the significance of their stance can be found on here, on the 'History Needs You' blog. Be it artist or carpenter, it is obvious that whoever crafted these life-sized creatures had a wonderful empathy with the equine species. Prancing and firy, noble and elegant, you can read the respect of sculptor for subject in every vein and sinew. Indeed, the figures are so detailed that each model has horse shoes!
|Detail showing the different paint finishes on the wooden horses|
(Wooden horse to the left of the photo, armour to the right)
|A detail showing the joins and a pin used to assemble the sculptures.|
|The horse, commissioned in 1685, used to display the model|
of King Henry VIII in armour.
|Was this horse carved by Grinling Gibbons?|
|This horse is the cuckoo in the nest - Why?|
Because it was made just a couple of years ago in order to carry the weight of
Henry VIII's armour.
|Carved in wood - the likeness of King Henry VIII- |
part of an exhibition created 300 years ago
I would like to thank the lovely people at the Historic Royal Palaces, and John Shevlin in particular, for inviting an ordinary blogger to a preview of this wonderful exhibition. For those wishing to visit the Line of Kings, entry is free, included as part of the admission fee to the Tower of London.