Artist: Tessa Posthuma de Boer
Hahnemühle German Etching print, 30x20cm (12×8 inch), unframed, edition of 20. The prints are numbered and signed on the back by the artist.
Catherine Howard, (born c. 1524—died February 13, 1542, London, England), fifth wife of King Henry VIII of England. Her downfall came when Henry learned of her premarital affairs.
*The portrait of Katherine Howard (by painter Hans Holbein) is probably not actually of her, although for many years it was assumed to be. In recent years the attributiuon has been challenged and the general consensus is now that it is likely to be Elizabeth Seymour, sister of the queen and wife of Gregory Cromwell.
‘Tessa’s Tudor faces – so real, so recognizable – have made me smile and also brought tears into my eyes. When you see the magnificent portraits of the Tudor court made by Holbein and the other masters, you are impressed and enlightened – but you cannot imagine the subjects moving out of their positions, or having a conversation with you, or acknowledging your existence at all; we are looking at them, but they are oblivious to us. In Tessa’s playful, clever re-creation, they seem ready to move and speak. They are as close and solid as someone you might pass in the street. And yet they preserve their unique dignity, their individuality. They are long gone, but suddenly present, and looking at us.’ – Hilary Mantel
Over the past eight months, Dutch photographer Tessa Posthuma de Boer has worked intensively on a series of portraits of Henry VIII, his six wives, Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. She began in response to the ‘Cromwell Trilogy’ by Hilary Mantel, of which the final volume, The Mirror and the Light, was published this spring. For all three volumes of the Dutch edition new cover designs were required, but the photographer was so captivated by the subject that it did not end there and another six portraits followed.*
Are you looking at a photograph or a painting? With her photographic collages Tessa Posthuma de Boer creates a bridge, as it were, to the past – ‘they seem ready to move and speak’ – just as Hilary Mantel creates a bridge to the present by writing about a sixteenth-century period in the present tense.
Tessa Posthuma de Boer studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. After her final exams in 1993 she started working as a portrait photographer. Her portraits have appeared in many different newspapers and magazines, including De Volkskrant, Ajax Magazine, FD, National Geographic, VPRO Guide, Psychology Magazine, etc. A large number of advertising campaigns (Rabobank, Fiat, Postbank, Vodafone, PostNL to name a few). Tessa also often works for businesses, like Akzo Nobel, Staatsbosheer, VU Medical Center, Audi and KPN. And she is wellknown for her many author portraits on behalf of publishers.
Tessa’s autonomous work is regularly exhibited in the Netherlands and abroad. She teaches photography at the Buitenkunst Foundation.