'Odd' Richard III portrait 'coming home' to Leicester

Portrait of Richard III Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The painting normally hangs in the National Portrait Gallery

A portrait of Richard III, designed to make him look "odd", is to go on show in the city where his bones were found.

It is part of the National Portrait Gallery's Coming Home programme which takes portraits to places with which they are linked.

The monarch's skeleton was found by archaeologists beneath a Leicester car park in 2012.

Experts say the painting, hosted by the city's New Walk Museum, was subtle propaganda to undermine his character.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The image is frequently used on Richard III-related merchandise

Richard was the last king from the house of Plantagenet and died fighting Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII, at Bosworth in 1485.

The painting - which measures 25ins (64cm) by 18ins (46cm) - is known as the red portrait.

While it was made decades after his death, it is believed to be based on an original done during his lifetime.

However, Luke Blaycock, from the Richard III Visitor Centre, warned against taking it at face value.

'Fiddles nervously'

"It was made in the Tudor era and has touches to make him seem odd and unsettling. It's subtle propaganda," he said.

"He is given a careworn look, with a slightly twisted mouth and thin, rather pointed fingers.

"He holds no symbols of power, like a sceptre, and the one item he does have, a sovereign ring on his little finger, he fiddles with nervously."

The red portrait of King Richard III will be on display at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery from Saturday 8 June until 22 September.

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