Thursday, January 29, 2009

Question from Nikki - Tomb effigies

who decided what the effegies on tombs would look like? elizabeth, victoria, etc. (henry vii was a grand exception, i'm more interested in the others.)


Anonymous said...

The obvious answer to that is that the sculptor and whoever commissioned and paid for the effigy are the ones who decide what each one looks like.

Anonymous said...

a more recent queen, queen mary, asked that her effigey represent her in her youth so that she would look more like her husband.

it's not always the sculptor, so i'm curious.

Anonymous said...

I believe Victoria likewise chose to be represented in her youth so as to appear a more appropriate companion to Albert, who pre-deceased Victoria by over 40 years.

Different monarchs have taken varying degrees of interest in preparing their own funerary memorials and tombs, and different degrees of interest in completing unfinished work on the tombs of their predecessors.

Henry VII apparently took a very active "hands-on" interest in the design and planning of his monument at Westminster Abbey, as Nikki suggests. Yet his son Henry VIII made absolutely no plans and was thus buried in an unmarked vault at St George's Chapel, Windsor (the marker was not added until 1837).

Edward VI's death was relatively unexpected and the Marian regime was unwilling to memorialize him. He was interred in an unmarked nook of Henry VII's Lady Chapel near the elder Tudor's tomb (a marker was added just 40 years ago).

Elizabeth I took no personal interest in the design of her monument, not surprising in light of the famous stubbornness with which she faced her own death. Instead, her (grateful?) successor James I commissioned Maximilian Colt to sculpt a tomb and Jan de Critz to paint it. Elizabeth was re-interred in the tomb in 1606, three years after her death. Elizabeth's half-sister and predecessor Mary was interred in the same tomb, but without an effigy.

Thus the only Tudor monarchs with funerary effigies and above-ground tomb monuments are the first and last: Henry VII and Elizabeth I. Of those two, only Henry VII exerted any degree of personal control over how he was depicted in effigy. Three of the five Tudor monarchs have no effigy.

As discussed in another thread on this site, George III took sufficient hands-on interest in his own memorialization that he began the practice of interring royals at Frogmore near Windsor, rather than at Westminster.

In her obsessive grief over Albert's death, Victoria personally directed the design of his monument and effigy at Frogmore, as well as the design of her own effigy and of the mausoleum that contains their shared tomb. In fact, Victoria's effigy was completed at the same time as Albert's, in the early 1860s, but not placed on the tomb until after her death in 1901.

Victoria's successor Edward VII took an active interest in planning the effigy of his own son, Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence (d. 1892). He was not, however, involved in planning his own effigy. That duty fell to his second son and successor, George V, who commissioned Edgar McKennal and Edward Lutyens to design the tomb and effigies in the year after his father's death. Interestingly, Edward VII and his consort, Alexandra, are buried in St George's Chapel rather than at Frogmore ... perhaps a deliberate effort to distance themslves from his domineering mother.

Though George V's death was a lingering one and expected, I am not aware that he took an interest in his own memorialization. I believe his effigy was commissioned by his wife, Queen Mary, whose lovingly feminine influence can be detected in the inclusion of an effigy of George's favorite dog at the feet of his own effigy.

Edward VIII (d. 1972) is buried in a simple outdoor grave in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore, marked by a large flat inscribed granite stone.

George VI has no effigy and no above-ground tomb monument, though his grave is enclosed by a small chapel added to the side of St George's Chapel in 1969. Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother was involved in commissioning and designing the chapel, as was the present Queen.

The present Queen's funeral plans and memorialization remain essentially secret, though I suspect it has been fully planned and the plans vetted by the Queen. I feel certain there will be no effigy.

Anonymous said...

thanks phd historian!

Anonymous said...

I equate effigies with obituary notices in the paper, if accompanied by a photograph. Some people like to be depicted as they were in their golden years, others would like to be remembered by their youthful looks.

Very interesting answer, PhD. Thanks for all the information!

Bearded Lady said...

Jane Seymour had a wax effigy affixed to her casket too. Because she died unexpectedly it is doubtful that the poor woman got any say in what it looked like.

Unknown said...

Actually, both Mary and Elizabeth have effigies on their tombs. I can't recall who commissioned them but they are buried together and have the effigies on top of their casket with a lovely inscription.