The modest collection of oil paintings in the Royal Armouries is part of a larger group of paintings, prints and drawings which deal with the subject of arms and armour or depict episodes or events related to the history of the Tower of London.
Their collective value is that they generally provide a source of contemporary illustrations: almost all the portraits show armour and arms being worn or borne. In some cases the armour or arms depicted in the portraits now form part of the Royal Armouries collection. In addition to providing contemporary illustrations, the portraits therefore also provide an unimpeachable provenance for the objects in question. The main criterion used in selecting material to add to the collection thus tends to be the quality of draughtsmanship rather than the aesthetic qualities.
As with any museum, it is impossible to display everything in the Royal Armouries collection. However, as with other elements of the collection, the paintings, prints and drawings not displayed remain accessible by special arrangement. The great value of the paintings in the collection, both those on display and others, rests not simply in their ability to function as research tools, but equally importantly in their ability to place the subject of the painting, or even specific objects, in context for the benefit of the visitor.
Peter Smithurst, Head of Curatorial Department
Text source: PCF / Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
This description was originally written for a catalogue.
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