Rediscovered drawing at British Library exhibition

This just goes to show you how many things may still be hiding in archives, libraries, attics, etc.

From The Guardian:

A drawing of Henry VIII’s famous victory over the French at the “Siege of Boulogne” in 1544 is to go on public display for the first time in more than 400 years after lying undiscovered and mislabelled in the British Library archives.

The image, drawn by a “war artist” commissioned to record the Tudor king’s military achievements, dates to 1545 and is one of four “views” documenting Henry’s second invasion of France.

For centuries art historians have pondered why there was never a final picture showing the surrender of the city. Just three drawings survived, one showing Henry landing in Calais, another of him on the way to Boulogne, and a third of the siege in progress.

“Everybody just assumed that the end of the siege had not been done,” Peter Barber, head of map collections at the British Library, told the Observer. But due to a cataloguing error the existence of a fourth drawing had gone unnoticed. It only came to light when Barber began re-cataloguing the manuscripts of Sir Robert Cotton, which had been left to the nation by his grandson, Sir John Cotton, in 1702 and passed to the British Museum on its founding in 1753.

Full article

The drawing will be on display at the British Library’s “Henry VIII: Man and Monarch” exhibition


  1. Exactly! This is why I keep up hope that SOMEWHERE, a portrait of Mary Newman Drake is in someone’s dusty attic, waiting to be discovered…

  2. I wish they would print a picture of it. I’d love to see it.

  3. There is going to be a companion book (which I’ll post links to as soon as I get a chance) which sounds like it will have a bunch of images. From the description: “including colour illustrations of all 250 exhibits, together with related material”. I’ll definitely be buying one since I won’t make it to the exhibit itself.

  4. Thanks, Lara. I’m going to be in England in June and July, so I will definitely see this exhibit (along with as many other of the Henry VIII exhibits that I can possibly squeeze in). I always buy the book that goes with them, so I know I will come back with a suitcase full of books including this one! I’d still kind of like to see it before I get there though…

  5. I think the prayer book that his daughter princess Elizabeth designed for him in 1545 will be on display too as this prayer book belongs to the british library.It has a dark red embroidered cover with an embroidered H in black for Henry.As well as his other prayer book with the notes that he made in the margins.Letters aswell.Just generally things that belonged to Henry.

  6. Getting back to the original subject of the blog post here, does anybody know if there is a picture of the new drawing they found?

  7. I set up a Google news alert for it, but so far the Guardian article is the only one to show up. I searched the British Library site just in case I had missed it but nothing yet – although I did discover that the man who built an Elizabethan house I visited in North Wales was wounded in the battle!

  8. I’ve seen the drawing of the siege in progress but not the rest of them. It will be interesting to see them all.

  9. There’s a small part of it in BBC History Magazine for April. The city appears deserted. City walls in foreground, ecclesiastical building to the right with two towers with tall steeples; very large damaged building to the left, hills in the background. As the new found panel is 23 x 163 cm but the magazine pic is almost square, I’m guessing it is a magnification of a detail.

  10. The BL exhibition catalogue comes out on April 14th & is available for order on Amazon uk now – hardback £17.50 instead of £25, & paperback £12.95 instead of £15.95.

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