It is testament to the legacy of King Richard III that he is still inspiring artistic expression in a variety of guises. Throughout the site you will encounter a multitude of artwork which has been produced in recent years by various artists. The Society Gallery celebrates some of the other forms of expression, which represent not only Richard III directly but also the era, historical events and the continued interest through exhibitions and museums.
The Gallery hosts two musical compositions dedicated to the king and plans are currently underway to develop a video section which initially provides access to the Leicester Conference presentations.
In spring 2014 Leicester City Council will open the new visitor centre in the stunning 150-year-old former Alderman Newton School building which is situated next to the car park where the remains of King Richard were found in August 2012. In the meantime there is a temporary exhibition at the city's Guildhall, 'Richard III: Leicester's Search for a King' which tells the story of Richard III, his life and times and the search for his lost remains.
Bosworth Heritage Centre
The Bosworth Heritage Centre has a permanent interactive exhibition devoted to the battle, its build-up and aftermath.
There is also a new temporary exhibition at Bosworth, running until the end of the year: 'Richard III: The Making of the Myth'.
For many years, there has been a Richard III Museum and Exhibition in possibly one of York's best kept secrets – York's tallest and most impressive Medieval Gatehouse: Monk Bar. Built in the 14th Century as part of York's famous City Walls, it was originally a guard house and has been both a prison and a police house, lived in until 1914. The exhibition also includes a reconstructed trial where King Richard is placed in the dock and charged with the murder of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower.
Exhibition held at the Royal National Theatre, London 27 March – 27 April 1991
© Geoffrey WheelerTo coincide with the production of Shakespeare's King Richard III at the RNT, which starred Sir Ian McKellen in the title role, and where the action had been transposed to the 1930s in a Hitlerian-style England, the Society produced its own exhibition for the theatre which compared the myths associated with King Richard with the contemporary evidence. A superb example of positive picketing!
The exhibition—in a modified form—was moved to Warwick Castle where it remained for many years but the text and images are now hosted by the Society's American Branch.
Trailer to Richard Loncraine's film Richard III starring Sir Ian McKellen.
• To Prove a Villain – the Real Richard III. Richard III Society 1991. This book is no longer in print but is available for loan to members from the Barton Library.
This exhibition took place between 27 June and 7 October 1973 at the NPG in London. The exhibition was mounted by Dr Pamela Tudor-Craig and she collaborated closely with the Society's expert in visual records of the period, Geoffrey Wheeler.
The exhibition displayed many of the portraits of Richard, including the NPG's own painting, the portrait in the Royal Collection and those in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries, the duke of Northumberland, Eton College and the marquess of Salisbury. Portraits of Edward IV, Henry VI and the Yorkist European supporter, Louis of Gruthuyse, were also included.
Also exhibited were The Hastings Hours, the personal book of devotions of Edward IV's chamberlain and friend, William, Lord Hastings, who was executed by Richard in June 1483; Caxton's The Mirroure of the Worlde, and the Charter of Incorporation of Freeman of Ministry of Wax Chandlers of City of London by Richard III.
In total, 49 portraits of King Richard, his family and associates were exhibited, along with 213 artefacts and documents.
• Richard III by Pamela Tudor-Craig, National Portrait Gallery, London, 27 June - 7 October 1973. This book is no longer in print but is available for loan to members from the Barton Library, and second-hand copies may be available on Amazon.
The statue in situ
© Geoffrey WheelerIn 1977 the Richard III Society commissioned renowned sculptor, James Butler RA, to produce a cast bronze statue of King Richard to be erected in Leicester. A Richard III Memorial Fund was established and an Appeals Committee formed to launch a public appeal to raise funds towards its estimated cost of £25,000. The design chosen from a choice of three was model 'C', which represents the king as a fighting figure holding his crown and sword and mounted on a three-tiered plinth.
Full size clay model of the
statue in the artist's studio
© Geoffrey Wheeler A plaque at the back of the plinth records that the statue is a gift to the City of Leicester from 'members of the Richard III Society and others throughout the world.'
Marquette 'B' of the statue
© Geoffrey WheelerOn 31 July 1980 the statue was unveiled in Leicester's Castle Gardens by HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, standing-in for her son, the duke of Gloucester, who at short notice was overseas representing the Queen at the independence celebrations in the New Hebrides. Princess Alice delivered a message from her son which included the poignant words 'It is proof of our sense of civilised values that something as esoteric and as fragile as a reputation is worth campaigning for'.
Courtesy Dr Phil StoneThis statue of the King was erected in the bailey of Middleham Castle in 1996 and was jointly funded by English Heritage and Middleham Key Partnership.
The sculpture was 'intended to provoke inquiry, curiosity, and subsequently a greater understanding' of the king but due to its imagery it proved controversial to many Ricardians.
The artist writes 'The figures represented are allegorical – the basilisk (or cockatrice) and a medieval demon on Richard's back – and heraldic – the white boar and part of the 'suns and roses' of the Yorkist collar. Richard became - after his death - a controversial figure in history with many questions about his character remaining unresolved today; the Shakespearian portrait being totally at odds with the dedication in the York City Rolls. The sculpture illustrates the heavy burden which history has heaped upon this Northern King.'
© Geoffrey WheelerJohn Thomas (1813-1862) was appointed Supervising Carver at the Palace of Westminster and was responsible for all the figures of the English kings and queens. The representation of King Richard dates from c. 1854-5.
The 1980s bustAlthough an aircraft engineer by profession, Gerry has always showed strong tendencies towards the arts, no doubt inherited from his uncle, Frederick and Great Uncle Nathaniel. Both were fine sculptors, known in the architectural field for stone, wood, bronze and alabaster works, many of which can be seen in cathedrals such as Westminster Abbey, Canterbury, Lincoln and York.
The 1996 bustIn the 1980s Gerry produced his first bust of King Richard modelled originally in plasticine and the original reproduced in a resin based material by casting and then 'finished' in either a dark bronze or stone. The features were based on the two of the principle surviving portraits of the King, those owned by the National Portrait Gallery and the Society of Antiquaries.
Richard on horseback.
Courtesy of Wendy MoorhenThe bust attempts to portray the common features of both portraits whilst, hopefully, capturing the well-known expression of nervous anxiety and melancholy. A second bust was sculpted in plasticine in 1996 then cast in Pewter.
When his daughter reached a significant birthday in 2000, she asked her father to produce a miniature statue of Richard on horseback. She was so delighted with the result that it was decided to make a mould and produce 11 plaster statues which were sold to close friends and Ricardian colleagues. The original statue was produced in clay. Copies were produced in polyurethane resin and given a white finish, with the delicate parts being produced in white metal.
© Leicester MercuryA painting by the nineteenth century Hinckley artist, William Bass, depicting King Richard's charge at the Battle of Bosworth, is now on display in Leicester's New Walk Museum (November 2013). The painting, which has not been seen in public for many years, is on loan for the next two years.
The Society is grateful to the present owner, John Talbot, and the Leicester Mercury, for allowing us to reproduce the painting. A member of Mr Talbot's family married into the Bass family who are known primarily for their brewery business established in Burton-on-Trent.
The morph was created by Olivia Nagioff who writes:
"When I saw Richard III's reconstructed face unveiled in February 2013, I was struck by its similarity to his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. I was curious to find out how well the various portraits of King Richard matched the reconstruction.
"I collected several of the most famous of the portraits, including the ones from the National Portrait Gallery and The Society of Antiquaries, placed them alongside a picture of the reconstruction on my PC desktop and spent several days 'living with' them. Then I attempted to superimpose each of the portraits on the reconstructed face. I found the NPG portrait extremely easy to align, but none of the others even came close.
"Although I still wasn't thinking about a Morph, I then tried a trick that I often use when sizing up pictures for a Morph, which is to flick repeatedly between the two pictures and get an impression of the transition between them. I suddenly had the strangest feeling. It was almost as if King Richard was emerging from the dark into light. The worried face of the portrait was transforming into the confident and slightly smiling face of the reconstruction. It was then that I knew what I should do."
NB Although it is interesting to compare the facial reconstruction with the portraits, it should be noted that the creator of the facial reconstruction—Prof. Caroline Wilkinson—was not influenced by these portraits but relied only on the skeletal material.
This castle is Norman in origin and sits on the northern bank of the River Tees. It was once the stronghold of the Balliol family, who briefly provided a king of Scotland. Richard inherited it from his father-in-law Warwick the Kingmaker. The castle is now ruined and in the care of English Heritage.
Set in Wensleydale and dating from the 12th century, this castle was Richard's favourite residence in the north. It is where he spent much of his childhood and married life. His only legitimate son, Edward, was probably born here in about 1473. The castle is now ruined and in the care of English Heritage.
This castle dates from the 11th century and passed into the ownership of the earls of Lancaster in the early 14th century, and to the crown on the accession of Henry IV. Richard II was probably murdered there and Edward IV used it as his base before the battle of Towton in 1461. Richard visited the castle whilst on his coronation progress in August 1483. The ruined castle is now in the care of the local authority.
The castle is sited on a rocky promontory above the River Swale and is one of the oldest Norman stone fortresses in the country. Richard was given the castle by Edward IV in 1478, following the execution of their brother, the duke of Clarence. The castle is now ruined and in the care of English Heritage.
The remains of this castle, now in private hands, can be found ten miles to the north-east of York. Dating from the 12th century, it came into Richard's hands through his wife Anne Neville. The Council of the North often used the Sheriff Hutton as its headquarters. The ruined castle was offered for sale in 2008.
Weston-super-Mare doll maker, Peggy Nisbet (1909-1985), appeared to have a great interest in King Richard III and the Wars of the Roses. She began her doll making career in 1953 with a model of Queen Elizabeth II in her coronation dress. Over the years the business grew with its own factory. There were several ranges of dolls produced but the most prolific were the 8" costume dolls, made of styrene, based on kings and queens, historical and literary characters, entertainers, historical costumes through the ages and national dress from around the world. What perhaps makes these dolls so remarkable is the attention to detail in such a small scale model.
In 1968 Peggy issued a limited edition, just 250 sets comprising of six dolls, entitled 'Wars of the Roses Part 1'. The following year 'Wars of the Roses Part 2' was released, again 250 sets comprising of six dolls.
A Certificate of Authenticity accompanied each doll in the limited edition sets, detailing the name of the doll, its model number and signed by Peggy. A short biographical note of each doll was also provided. For the Princes in the Tower (Edward V and Richard, Duke of York), she wrote:
'Historical fiction says that the Princes Edward and Richard were murdered in August 1483 whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London. It is widely thought that the murders were instigated by their uncle, Richard III who had much to gain from their deaths.'
Each year Peggy would release a new set of limited editions and in 1987 she returned to the theme of the Princes in the Tower for set number 27, limited to 1,000 sets and comprising of just three dolls, King Richard and his nephews. For this Certificate she wrote:
'King Richard III reigned from 1483 to 1485. Controversy and mystery has continued throughout history as to whether he was the cruel, wicked character responsible for the murder of the two little Princes in the Tower, aged 12 and 9 years. The popular belief today is that Richard III was a glorious monarch much vilified by ugly propaganda that had no foundation in truth'.
In contrast to Peggy Nisbet's business enterprise, the dolls of Teresa Thompson are created entirely by the artist herself, making them from cotton stockinette over wire frames with moulded heads and hand painted features. Teresa concentrates on costume rather than historical figures though there are exceptions. Here are illustrations of her take on costumes during the reigns of King Edward IV, therefore contemporary to Richard as duke of Gloucester, together with two specially commissioned dolls of the 'pretender' Perkin Warbeck, aka the duke of York, and his wife, Lady Katherine Gordon. The costumes of these latter two dolls are based on materials recorded in primary sources. 'Perkin' is dressed in his 'spousing' gown of white damask and velvet coat and his wife in a costume she would have worn at the Tudor court, made from materials of black velvet, tawny and crimson satin, and paid for by the Exchequer.
These dolls are similar in size to the Nisbet dolls, ladies around 8" and the gentlemen around 9" and they also incorporate a tremendous amount of detail and workmanship.
Robert Draper, composerThe Society is delighted to host a new composition, Richard III, by Robert Draper who has been inspired by the remarkable discovery of the remains of King Richard III in Leicester last year.
This orchestral piece is scored for two flutes, two oboes, english horn, two bassoons, 4 french horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, pipe organ and strings. The opening oboe theme has a tinge of sadness, but this fuses to connect with the drama of Bosworth Field as the music develops.
Robert Draper is a refreshing and individual sounding modern day English classical composer. He writes engaging music which is dramatic, passionate and direct. A composer and pianist, he read music at the University of London Goldsmiths' College, where he studied composition. He studied piano with Russian virtuoso Evgenia Chudinovich. He has written major works for orchestra, choir, piano, string quartet and other instruments. He is 49 and lives in the East Sussex countryside of southern England.
Images shown during the presentation are courtesy of Geoffrey Wheeler, Studio88, Gerry Hitch, Osprey Publishing Ltd and Peter Hammond. Click the 'Play' button below to listen to the music.
A choral work composed in memory of King Richard III
Graham Keitch has dedicated a new choral work to the Society. It will be sung at the commemorative Evensong in Leicester Cathedral on Aug 22nd. Graham has provided the following background to the motet:
"In memoriam; Ricardus Rex was composed shortly after the discovery of the king's body under a car park in Leicester earlier this year. It's an unaccompanied choir setting of words inspired by Richard's Book of Hours and his motto. The text, which can be read in full below, is taken mostly from the Psalms of David and other passages from the Bible. The opening words reflect the harsh reality of being a monarch in Richard's time - O Lord, how many are my foes! This is followed by texts which speak of loyalty and, from Psalm 3, bravery and trust in God. The first part of the motet concludes by quoting from Richard's own prayer - Bring me before you, living God - words that convey a sense of preparedness and readiness to allow destiny to run its course and accept God's will.
"The text moves on to celebrate God's kingdom. From Psalm 103 - The Lord has established his throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules over all. The words of thanksgiving that follow express a desire to live in peace with one another and with those that exercise authority over us – kings and rulers. As mortals, our lives are fragile and temporary as acknowledged in Psalm 103 - For he knows our frame - to dust we shall return. The motet closes with words from Psalm 4, chosen to acknowledge the Society's efforts in helping to recover the king's body so that he may be laid to rest as appropriate for an English monarch - In peace I will lie down and sleep.
"The premiere live performance of In memoriam; Ricardus Rex took place on 6 July 2013 in Buckfast Abbey at a sell-out concert given by the excellent Counterpoint choir, directed by David Acres. The Schola Cantorum choir of Nottingham RC Cathedral led by Alex Patterson will sing the motet again at the special Evensong in Leicester Cathedral on 22 Aug 2013 which is being held to commemorate the Battle of Bosworth. A studio recording has also been put together by Matt Curtis, recent director of Chanticleer in the States. Matt assists both choirs and composers with his Choral Tracks web site and his recording of In memoriam; Ricardus Rex can be heard by clicking the 'play' button after the words."
About Graham: Graham is a counter tenor in the choir of St Michael and All Angels, Mt Dinham, Exeter and has composed other choral works which are being performed here and abroad. He has also composed a number of orchestral pieces, one of which will launch the Dartmouth Regatta fireworks display on Aug 31st. Graham lives on Dartmoor and his music draws inspiration from the wonderful landscapes in the south west. His compositional style is both contemporary and easy on the ear. You can hear more of his music.
In memoriam; Ricardus Rex
In memoriam; Ricardus Rex
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Loyalty binds me.
Friends are forever.
Many are rising against me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand people
who have set themselves against me.
Bring me before you,
The Lord has established
His throne in the heavens
and His kingdom rules over all.
Lord, hear our prayer
for all people,
kings and rulers,
that we may lead a peaceful life.
For He knows our frame.
To dust we shall return.
In peace I will lie down
Recording by Matt Curtis
2nd March 2013: Leicester Conferenece The Greyfriars Dig – A New Richard III presentations.