Monday, 7 June 2010

The Field of Gold

Did you know that today is the anniversary 490 years ago of the setting up of the Field of Gold?

No - that's not the Eva Cassidy song.  I'm referring to the Field of the Cloth of Gold - the site of a meeting that took place from 7 June to 24 June 1520, between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France which was intended to consolidate their friendship following the Anglo-French treaty of 1514.

What's fascinating from an artist's perspective is the painting which records the meeting and the local landscape.
  • Landscapes at that time almost always featured as a backdrop for something specific in the foreground and this one is no different.  
  • It's also interesting to look at how the artist treated perspective which reflects hierarchy as much as literal perspective.
The Field of the Cloth of Gold
coloured print by James Basire in 1774,
from a 16th century oil painting in the Royal Collection.
Source: Wikimedia

The original painting The Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520 was painted around about 1545.  Presumably it was painted for Henry VIII.  It's now owned by the Queen.

It's an oil painting on canvas and measures 168.9 x 347.3 cm - that's 66.5 in x 136.7 in which makes this a VERY BIG painting since that's over 5 feet high by more than 11 feet wide.
The meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold took place on 7 to 24 June 1520 in a valley subsequently called the Val d’Or, near Guisnes to the south of Calais. It derived its name from the sumptuousness of the materials used for the tents, pavilions and other furnishings. It was a spectacle of the greatest magnificence and the several artists responsible for this painting have made a fairly accurate visual summary of the various festivities that took place during the meeting of the two kings, which was dominated by a seventeen-day tournament.

The English party was based at the town of Guisnes, seen in the left half of the painting.
The Royal Collection

I tried locating the land in the painting between Guisnes and Ardes in the Pas de Calais on Google France Maps/Streetview.  It's just east of where the Eurotunnel comes out.  It appears that today the site of the Champ d'Or (Field of Gold) is now home to a French hypermarché!

1 comment:

Art Trip said...

Great blog since I tend to do landscapes. Am poking around your other posts.


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