Handsome, dramatic, large pair of medallion portrait plaques of European royalty. One is of Henry IV (1553-1610), King of France (1589-1610) and King of Navarre (1572-1610); the other is of Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536), Queen consort and first wife of King Henry VIII of England. The portraits are rendered in deep relief for a bold effect by the technique of repoussé, in which a sheet of metal is hammered and otherwise pushed out from the reverse side.
Henry IV is one of the most popular French kings, in part for his religious tolerance. The Edict of Nantes, which he enacted in 1598, guaranteed religious freedom for Protestants and ended the Wars of Religion between Huguenots and Catholics. He also completed major public works throughout France, including the Pont Neuf over the Seine, which still connects the Left and Right Banks of Paris.
Catherine of Aragon was the youngest child of the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. She was married to Arthur, Prince of Wales of England in 1501; he died a few months later. Seven years later, she married Henry VIII. Their daughter later became Queen Mary I. In 1525, Henry, determined to marry Anne Boleyn, forced Catherine from court and had their marriage annulled in 1533, a series of events that led to his break with Roman Catholicism and the establishment of the Church of England. Catherine was an accomplished and intelligent woman respected by contemporaries such as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More. In 1507, she served on behalf of her father as the ambassador to England from Spain, the first female ambassador in European history. She also demonstrated compassion for the poor and supported efforts to advocate for the education of women.
Condition: Generally fine overall, the brass nicely patinated, the frames with the usual light wear and shrinkage.