Hello! In between orders, I have been working on the latest doll to add to my Tudor miniature dolls line. Please let me introduce to you my ‘Young Katherine Of Aragon’:
I have always felt rather sorry for this grand lady, whatever her faults may or may not have been and wanted to be able to portray her in her youth, in happier times. As many of you may well know, Katherine of Aragon was the first wife of the infamous King Henry VIII of England. However, Henry was not her first husband as she had been first married to Henry’s older brother Athur. The match between Katherine and Arthur was arranged by their parents Ferdinand and Isabela of Spain and Henry VII and Elizabeth of England when both were just toddlers. When Arthur reached the age of 14, Katherine, shortly before her 16th birthday, travelled to England for the marriage in 1501. Sadly the young prince died less than six months later, leaving Katherine a widow. Unable to return to Spain, the young teeneager was stuck in England under the protection of her miserly father-in-law Henry VII, who by all accounts, left her barely able to clothe her ladies in waiting, let alone herself.
During those difficult years, Katherine formed a strong friendship with Arthur’s younger brother, the robust and lively Henry and, by the time the old King died in 1509, that friendship had turned to love. The 18 year old Henry, now King Henry VIII of England, married the 23 year old Spanish princess and it is well documented that he was most taken with his young bride. It seems fair to say that the early years of their marriage were very happy with the young King being most attentive and openly romantic towards Katherine.
So, when I created this new doll, I wanted to try and capture the youth, hope and happiness of that early married life. In researching the young Katherine, I came across the fact that, she had pale auburn hair, NOT as I had always assumed for a Spaniard, black or dark hair. I also found this lovely painting of her, painted between 1501 and 1509 by court painter Michel Sittow:
Since this portrait was painted before she married Henry, she is wearing more sombre colours than I have used for the doll. Henry VIII’s Court was very lively and vibrant, like him. Very unlike the dour seriousness of his father’s Court. Therefore I chose a rich gold silk jacquard for her over-gown with a paler, more youthful green for the under-gown, both popular colours for Royalty and the elite at that time. The style is that of around 1509/10, with the Medieval influence still visible alongside the more typical Henrician Tudor style. I have kept the head dress or ‘coif’ similar to the style in the painting and this would more than likely have been black for most married women.
Here is a close-up of the coif, jewellery and gown bodice. The tightly fitted over-gown bodice is open to reveal part of the green under-gown. Around the neckline, you can just see the edge of the lace from the shift she would have worn next to her skin. The lace is gold-edged, (Yep……..I painted that by hand!…….time consuming but worth it). There is also some more gold-edged hand-painted lace around the front of the coif and at her wrists.
The long hanging sleeves of the overgown are lined with a rich brocade of cream and gold. These long sleeves were typical of the late Medieval and early Tudor era and eventually developed into the wider, turned back sleeves of the middle Tudor period.
At this stage the sleeves of the under-gown were still tightly fitted but these developed into the large padded and fancy false under-sleeves more commonly associated with Tudor costume.
During the early 1500’s, ladies could wear either a tied belt around their waists or the more elaborate jewelled hanging belt. Since Katherine’s gown is rather an elaborate Court gown, I felt it looked better with the more formal hanging belt. The pearls and crystals were all individually applied to fancy black and gold braid with the addition of jewelled gold filigrees at the waist and at the end of the belt.
I thoroughly enjoyed designing and creating this new doll and she is proving very popular, with collectors placing orders for her already. Of course I shall now have to work on a young Henry VIII to accompany her but for now it is only right that she has the centre stage and spotlight all to herself.
Until next time, bye for now!