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Henry Howard the Poet Earl of SurreyA Life$
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W. A. Sessions

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198186250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186250.001.0001

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Surrey’s Last Portrait

Surrey’s Last Portrait

(p.332) (p.333) 13 Surrey’s Last Portrait
Henry Howard the Poet Earl of Surrey

W. A. Sessions

Oxford University Press

Time was running out. The race for the succession, in which the winner would take all, was coming to an end. In these last months, the Earl of Surrey had his portrait painted with the symbolic theme of time and its uses. In the portrait, the poet represents himself at his most glorious, the redeemer of fleeting time — Virgil's ‘irreparabile tempus’. Unlike all the other bodies that had disappeared one after another in the reign of Henry VIII, this glorious male body rises out of the canvas towards the future of a new Renaissance — if only his audience would seize the message on the canvas. In the summer of 1546, the earl sent instructions to the painter of his final portrait with a letter to Mary Shelton, which was later seized by his betrayer, Sir Richard Southwell.

Keywords:   succession, Earl of Surrey, portrait, theme, time, Virgil, canvas, Mary Shelton, Richard Southwell

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