Charleville Castle fundraisers are hoping to raise €4,000 in just over a month in order to bring one castle matter full circle. In 1970 Canadian Graham Gordon rescued a painting from Charleville Castle entitled 'Henry VIII, Act V, Scene 4' but known within art circles as the Peters painting after its painter Matthew William Peters.
Mr Gordon reportedly bought the painting that dates from approximately 1789 from Major Hutton Bury for €225 in travellers' cheques, before going on to restore it in the 1990s. Just last January Charleville Castle volunteers discovered the painting, which portrays the christening of Princess Elizabeth as described in the last scene of the last act of Shakespeare's last play 'Henry VIII', was on loan and displayed at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in New Brunswick, Canada. They've since gotten permission to create an exact replica of the painting for its original home in Charleville Castle's dining room, and are hoping for public support to raise funds in order to complete the project.
Leader of the Charleville Castle project Dudley Stewart explained to the Offaly Independent this week that the current project has been a long time in the planning. "It's kind of been a long trek," he explained. Since January a reproduction of the painting has been completed by Polish craftsmen. The completed canvas is now in the possession of Charleville Castle project workers, but one large piece of work remains to be done.
The painting itself is of mammoth proportions, and at 10ft by 20ft covers one of the castle's dining room walls almost in its entirety. According to Mr Stewart the right people for the frame construction have been found, but the upcoming job at Charleville Castle will be the largest frame they've ever built. Furthermore, the frame itself must be built inside the room the painting will be re-hung in at the castle.
Mr Stewart is encouraging locals to help out financially to see the replica painting return to Charleville Castle.
He said some people have questioned why a picture of Henry VIII is being brought back to Ireland, but added that a spirit of reconciliation should prevail.
"We're saying we have to accept this part of our history, and this story that's part of Ireland," he said. "What we're doing is motivated by peace and reconciliation, and recognising the different parties that have played a role in forming Ireland."
More information on the project is available at http://www.fundit.ie/project/bring-king-henry-back-to-life-in-ireland, where donations to the cause can also be made.