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Historic image of King Richard III at Blue Boar Inn to be made available to public

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Historic image of King Richard III at Blue Boar Inn to be made available to public

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Communities and also in Education

Blue Boar Inn painting. Credit: University of Leicester Blue Boar Inn painting. Credit: University of Leicester

An historic image depicting King Richard III at the Blue Boar Inn on the eve of Battle of Bosworth is to be made available for the public to view.

Thanks to the generosity of retired local businessman and philanthropist Dr Frank May MBE, the University of Leicester acquired the 19th Century painting of King Richard III on horseback outside the Blue Boar Inn in Leicester.

Now Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess has arranged for the original painting to go on display at the University of Leicester and a copy of the oil painting to be presented to City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby for display in the new Richard III Visitor Centre.

The painting will be unveiled, and copy presented to the Mayor, by Dr May on Tuesday 21 January at 4.30pm in the Council Chamber Ante-Room, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester.

Professor Burgess said: “I was delighted that the University of Leicester acquired this work of art thanks to the generosity of Dr May who has been a lifelong supporter of the University of Leicester.  A picture of Richard III at the Blue Boar Inn was a ‘must have’ for the University, especially as it was painted by a local artist, and is an accurate portrayal of the Inn and links to our world class research.  We are delighted to make the image available for the wider public to view.”

Dr May added: “This historical painting of Richard III on horseback is a just reward for the dignified manner in which the University has conducted affairs over the archaeological search for Richard III.

“I wish this most enviable exhibition great success. I feel proud to have personally made a contribution to the legacy of Leicester by donating this painting to the University and a copy to the city.”

The painting, by John Fulleylove, exceeded the £3,000 bid expectation and sold for £7,300 in February last year. The signed and dated 1880 oil on canvas, 97 x 90 cm, was auctioned at Gildings in Market Harborough.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist in the University’s Dig for King Richard III, added:  “In my view, Fulleylove has really brought to life the departure of Richard III from the Blue Boar on the morning of 21 August 1485.  Although he could not have painted the inn from life, as the building had been demolished 40 years previously, Fulleylove based his picture on engravings by John Flower which are now known to be accurate representations of the building.  The picture also shows All Saint’s Church in the background and gives an impression of what the other buildings of Leicester’s medieval High Street may have looked like at this time.”

John Fulleylove was an English landscape artist and illustrator, born in Leicester in 1845. Originally training as an architect for local firm “Shenton and Baker”, he eventually became an artist in watercolour and oils. His work was exhibited widely in England from 1871, at prestigious London venues such as the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, Fine Art Society, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, as well as in many other regional towns and cities. He died at the age of fifty, on 22 May 1908.

The painting depicts King Richard astride a white horse resplendent with his coat of arms, arm held aloft wielding his sword. In the background is the magnificent Blue Boar Inn and the street is thronged with well-wishers.

While the church of the Grey Friars was the last resting place of Richard III, the last place where he actually rested was the Blue Boar Inn, a large, modern (for the time) establishment on Leicester’s old High Street.

After riding from Nottingham, Richard stayed at the Blue Boar on the night of 20 August 1485, reputedly in his own bed which he had brought with him. The next morning he rode out of the town, spending the night of 21 August under canvas before meeting his destiny the following day at Bosworth Field. His body was brought back to Leicester for burial in the Church of Grey Friars where he remained for over 500 years before being discovered by the University of Leicester archaeological team.

The Blue Boar itself was constructed in the mid-15th century and was a large coaching inn, providing food, drink and accommodation for wealthy travellers. On his previous visits to Leicester, Richard had stayed in the Castle, but by 1485 that was starting to fall into disrepair.

In 1836 the Blue Boar was demolished and a new pub of the same name built 200 yards away on Southgate Street. The site of the original building is now, appropriately, a Travelodge.

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