The Devil in the Detail: Deciphering Two Iconic Tudor Portraits

Art History

Day course

Joanna Cobb

13 February 2023

9:00 am to 4:00 pm


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This course provides close readings of two of the most recognisable portraits of the Tudor era, ‘The Ambassadors'(1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger and the ‘Ditchley’ portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1592) by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Viewed through the lens of the politics, society and culture of Tudor England and beyond we will act as art detectives in attempting to unravel their complex iconography to reveal some of the mysteries hidden within them and the stories which surround them. Expect some surprises!

This course would appeal to anyone with an interest in the Tudors in general, but would also interest those who enjoy digging deeper into carefully selected works of art to discover hidden meanings which have become obscured over subsequent centuries. It will also appeal to students who enjoy learning about art and history through examining primary sources, both written and visual, in order to bring the past closer.  In addition there will be a musical element to the course.

Tutor information

Joanna Cobb is an independent art historian based in Somerset.  Following a career teaching history she studied for an MA in History of Art at Birkbeck, graduating with Distinction. In addition to her work at Dillington House, Joanna has presented talks, lectures and courses for several arts societies, ArtsLink, Wells Cathedral School,  the U3A, WEA, and Western Front Association, her ‘Talking Film’ events in collaboration with Wells Film Centre have proved very popular.  Joanna is a keen gardener, holding public openings in support of the NGS and St. Margaret’s Hospice.

Your questions answered

Dillington House wishes to reassure everyone that we are working closely with Somerset County Council to ensure every measure is being taken to make Dillington House a safe place for everyone.

All course participants will be sent further guidance prior to the course date.

All places booked can be transferred or refunded in the event this course is cancelled by Dillington House. See our Terms and conditions for more information.