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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Tudor portrait to go on display
The 16th century panel painting of Queen Mary I, by Hans Eworth
The painting will go on public display for the first time
A Tudor painting considered to be one of the finest Royal portraits of the 16th Century is to go on public show.

The painting of Queen Mary, by Flemish artist Hans Eworth, will go on display at Winchester Cathedral from 30 June.

It will form part of the cathedral's 450th anniversary exhibition of Mary's marriage to Philip II of Spain.

In the painting, the monarch is wearing a giant pearl - known as La Peregrina - which was bought for actress Elizabeth Taylor, 400 years later.

The pearl - which is the size of a pigeon's-egg - was given to Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, by her future husband.

Actor Richard Burton later bought it from a British aristocratic family as a Valentine gift for Taylor.

[The painting] is as iconic of Mary as Holbein is of Henry VIII
Dr David Starkey, historian

The painting was acquired by the Society of Antiquaries in the early 19th Century.

In the picture, Queen Mary depicted wearing what is thought to be her coronation dress.

Known as the "Cloth of Gold", it was woven from silk and gold thread and was later adjusted for the coronation of her half-sister Elizabeth.

Historian Dr David Starkey, who is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, said the painting conveyed the "passionate intensity" of her Catholic religious feelings.

"It is one of the great 16th Century royal portraits," he said.

Winchester Cathedral
Mary and Philip II of Spain were married at Winchester Cathedral

"It is as iconic of Mary as Holbein is of Henry VIII, it is a picture of absolutely central significance."

Dr Starkey added that the painting would be worth many millions of pounds if it were to put on the market.

The portrait will be on show at Winchester Cathedral until September 30 as part of the exhibition, the Marriage of England and Spain.

The couple were married at the cathedral on 25 July 1554.

Canon Flora Winfield, of Winchester Cathedral, said: "This exhibition is about trying to understand history in new ways and also to understand why she was so zealous in her Catholic faith.

"It is about trying to understand what were the things in her own experience of her own life which made her so zealous about it."

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