Paul Delaroche’s masterpiece, 'The Execution of Lady Jane Grey', created a sensation when it was first displayed in Paris in 1834. And since its rediscovery in the 1970s it has become one of this country’s best-loved paintings. It shows in poignant detail the 17-year-old Lady Jane groping for the execution block, gently guided by a towering male figure while her courtiers collapse in grief by her side. Her brilliant white dress portrays her as the innocent Protestant martyr. She inherited the English throne reluctantly during the bitter political wrangling that followed the death of Edward VI in 1553, and was swiftly deposed in a counter-coup by her Catholic cousin Mary. Jane visits the National Gallery to discuss the painting and Lady Jane Grey’s extraordinary life and death with the historian Alison Weir and the curator Christopher Riopelle.
The exhibition ‘Painting History. Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey’, is at the National Gallery in London from 24 February -23 May 2010.
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