British School: Field of the Cloth of Gold (1545)

(Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames, UK)

A painting by an anonymous 16th century British artist. This painting shows 'the field of the cloth of gold' - a meeting between king Henry VIII of England and king Francis I of France (the name 'field of the cloth of gold' comes from the sumptuousness of the material used in the tents, furniture etc used at the meeting). The meeting itself took place at 7-24 June 1520 at the Val d’Or, near Guisnes to the south of Calais. The mission of the meeting was to increase the bond of friendship between both nations and, in order make a great impression, both kings arrived with a massive amount of attendants and representatives. The entire meeting was filled with tournaments, banquets and other festivities. The left part of the painting shows the town of Guisnes where the English party was based and a procession of Henry VIII and other English court officials. The building on the right is a palace, specially constructed for the occasion: the foundantion was bricks by the wall and roof were made of canvas painted to look like a solid structure. Two fountains in front of the building provided wine and beer for people's consumption. The large golden tent above the building is were the formal meetings between the two kings took place. Other activities are: the tournament field at the top right corner (including the 'tree of honour') and the golden tent at the top center were Henry and Francis had wrestling match (Henry VIII lost). The towns in the background are Calais and Ardres (where the French party were based). The dragon in the upper left corner supposedly flew over the event at the end of the meeting (probably it was firework accidentally or deliberately set off).The entire meeting didn't improve the relations between the 2 nations - only a year later France and England were once again at war with each other (the Italian War of 1521–26). Painting of 1545.