Took the kids to see The Tudors today. My mental images of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Edward VI are based on a very limited number of portraits, and every single one of those portraits was there, as was pretty much every other artwork I would name if anyone asked me to make a list of Tudor artwork. The few that were not there were used in explanatory texts. Most artworks were so immediately familiar that seeing them feels like unexpectedly seeing an old friend. They did not look anything like I would’ve expected.

In person they are very real and alive, to an extent that I never guessed from the photos. Despite the overall flatness of the background. Despite the unrealistic proportions of the furniture. Despite the costumes and the make-up. “They could almost step out of the frames” is a cliché, but alas – an inescapable one.

Crafts were new to me, and amazing.

The detail is overwhelming. There was some blackwork embroidery with patterns so tiny and complicated I could barely distinguish them, and suits of armor covered in patterns on patterns, dizzy-making.

Incidentally, this particular suit of armor is supposed to be blue (based on the explanatory text). I generally think of this shade as brown. Another odd thing about this suit of armor is that the breathing holes are only on the right side of the helmet.

The kids claim they enjoyed the exhibition, but it was obviously too much for them. They saw all four rooms in the time it took me to get to the middle of the second room, and after that followed behind me, holding my hands, leaning on me, and generally being cute and tired. But they were good about it, and got their dose of shopping, food, and beach afterward. It was a perfect sunny day, and West Beach was almost entirely empty. Much wave running got runned.

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