Philip and Mary I, ca 1555
Oil on panel
11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in. (29 x 25 cm)
Mary (reigned 1553-58), daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was a devout Catholic, with Spanish roots on her mother's side. In 1554, she married Philip, heir to the throne of Spain. This painting records the alliance and its composition is similar to a number of shilling and half-shilling coins - called "kissing coins" - that Mary I introduced in 1554. The painting also incorporates the crown from the front of the coin and the royal coats of arms of England and Spain from the back. Around the arms runs the French inscription "Honi soit qui mal y pense" (Evil be to him who evil thinks), which remains the motto of the British royalty to this day. For Philip, however, the marriage was one of political expediency rather than attraction, and their relationship was not particularly warm. He spent much of his married life away from his wife in Spain. Their marriage, unpopular in England, was accompanied by outbursts of anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic sentiment. Although Mary had reinstated Catholicism as the official state religion, the majority of the English population remained Protestant at heart. These feelings, combined with Philip and Mary's barren marriage and Philip's known disappointment with his spouse, inspired the ironic contemporary verse: "Still amorous, fond, and billing, Like Philip and Mary upon a shilling."
Private collection, Spain
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