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British School, 16th century

Edward IV (1442-83) 1524-56

RCIN 403435

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This posthumous portrait shows the Yorkist king wearing a black doublet under a rich black gown woven with expensive gold thread, a fabric known as cloth of gold. Such a fabric, which could be melted down to release the precious metal, was a conscious demonstration of wealth and kingship. The large-scale undulating design seen here falls into the category of motifs later classified as pomegranate. Pomegranate patterns for fashionable clothing were increasingly replaced by smaller-scale designs during the sixteenth century, although later artists such as Anthony van Dyck continued to use them as backdrops in their portraits.