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27th July 2004

The Subject.

Anthony, Count de la Roche - the 'Grand Bastard of Burgundy' - jousting at the Pas d'armes de l'Arbre d'Or, in the market place at Bruges in July 1468.

In July 1468, Margaret of York, sister to King Edward IV of England, was married to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. This great dynastic marriage was marked by processions, pageants and banquets, so magnificent that contemporaries marveled at the wealth and splendour of the Burgundian court. The highlight of the celebrations was undoubtedly the tournament - the Pas d'armes de l'Arbre d'Or (tournament of the Golden Tree) - held in the Market Place at Bruges in the shadow of the famous tower of the market hall - a landmark that can still be seen today.

The most complete account of the tournament was written at the time by Olivier de la Marche, and this describes the proceedings in great detail. Anthony, Count de la Roche undertook to defend the golden tree against a succession of challengers, jousting against each one for half an hour, with the winner being the knight to break the most lances in the prescribed time. The tournament lasted for eight days, and challengers included Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales, brother to Elizabeth, Queen of England.

Graham's composition concentrates on just one knight - the Bastard of Burgundy (an official title, not an insult - he was the illegitimate half brother of the Duke) as he spurs his horse into action during the tournament. Having witnessed and experienced how a horse can launch itself down the lists, Graham wants to convey the moment it's pent up energy is released into spectacular action. Over the coming weeks the painting will emerge from a blank canvas and evolve into Graham's vision of the events of five centuries ago, hopefully capturing some of the drama, excitement and colour of the medieval tournament in the process.

Coincidentally, while he is working on this painting, Graham's own jousting career will reach a pivotal moment. Having jousted in full armour for the first time on the 18th April, he will continue his training and hopes to joust in public in June. His painting diary will also keep you updated with his progress.

Graham Turner's jousting career has progressed a long way from the start he made whilst writing this Painting Diary in 2004, and he has now jousted at venues such as the Tower of London, the Royal Armouries Museum, and the Historisches Museum in Bern. The incredible experiences he has gained riding and competing in full plate armour at this high level have had a profound influence on his life and work, and you can find out more about Graham's jousting and his armour by CLICKING HERE

A large range of prints and cards reproduced from Graham Turner's medieval paintings are available from Studio 88, and full details of these, plus all Graham Turner's currently available originals, can be found on our website.

CLICK HERE to be taken to the relevant section of the site.