War of the Roses

George Perfect Harding


Pictured here holding a white rose, the heraldic badge of York, is Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), daughter of King Edward IV. When Edward died in April 1483, his eldest son also named Edward was destined to be King. But he was only twelve years old so his uncle, Edward IV’s brother Richard, was appointed Lord Protector. Soon thereafter it was determined that Edward IV’s marriage had been bigamous and his offspring illegitimate thus barring them from inheriting the throne. Richard was acclaimed King becoming Richard III, the last king of the House of York and the Plantagenet dynasty. Both Elizabeth’s brothers were taken by Richard to the Tower of London ostensibly for their protection. But soon they had disappeared and many held that Richard had had them murdered to further secure his position. Elizabeth fled with her mother to France.

The main rival for the English throne was Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster (1457-1509), pictured here holding a red rose. He was in exile in France. Elizabeth’s mother and Henry’s mother realised that the best way to unite the rival Houses of York and Lancaster would be for Henry to marry Elizabeth and this Henry took an oath to do in December 1483.

Two years later Henry invaded England and famously won the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard was killed. Henry was crowned King becoming Henry VII and, in January 1486, he fulfilled his promise by marrying Elizabeth who was then crowned Queen.

Thus were the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster united to become the Tudor Rose.

Like his father before him, the artist of these portraits George Perfect Harding (1784-1853) specialised in painting miniature watercolour copies of historical portraits. He visited stately homes and private collections seeking out important portraits not normally on view to the public. Many of his highly finished copies were subsequently engraved thereby reaching a wider audience. His portraits can be found at the National Portrait Gallery, British Museum and many other public galleries and museums.

Watercolour on card, both portraits are professionally mounted within attractive antique style giltwood frames. They are in excellent condition.

Item Ref. 9102

Size: framed, 235 x 210mm (9¼ x 8¼")

Provenance: Richard Philp Gallery pre-1990 ; UK Private collection