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Mary C Hennell (active 1903)

The King's Maundy Signed and dated 1903

Oil on canvas | 132.4 x 94.4 x 2.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 407869

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  • Ten Yeomen of the Guard, in their striking red uniforms, muster on the stairs of Dean's Cloister in preparation for the Maundy service at Westminster Abbey; the Yeoman at the bottom of the steps holds the Maundy plate containing purses to be distributed to the poor by the Monarch.


    The Maundy service takes place on the Thursday before Easter and commemorates the day of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The word 'Maundy' comes from the command or 'mandatum' by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another. The tradition of the sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th century.


    The Yeomen of the Guard were traditionally a bodyguard to the British Monarch, however today the role is purely ceremonial. Created by Henry VIII in 1485, following the Battle of Bosworth, it is the oldest British military corps still in existence and as a token of the venerability of the regiment, the Yeoman's uniform is Tudor in style.


    Little is known of the artist, Mary C Hennell, who exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1917. A label on the reverse gives her address as Flat 8 125 Victoria Street, Westminster, for March 1904; another confirms that the painting was given to Captain Alfred M Hennell of the 32nd Lancers Indian Army in the same year.


    First recorded in the Royal Collection in the present reign

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    132.4 x 94.4 x 2.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    163.4 x 124.9 x 8.1 cm (frame, external, without buildup)