THE Museum of Somerset has announced that it is bringing an artwork of outstanding national significance to the county this autumn.

Working with the National Portrait Gallery in London, the museum will display an extraordinary portrait of King Henry VII dated 1505.

It is the first image of an English monarch painted from life and the earliest portrait in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Henry VII has special associations with Taunton Castle, home of the Museum of Somerset.

It was there in 1497 that he confronted the rebel Perkin Warbeck after Warbeck’s failed attempt to claim the throne.

The king’s portrait will be displayed in the very room where the fateful meeting between king and rebel may have taken place.

The display of this remarkable artwork continues the museum’s programme of spotlight loans that has already brought the Alfred Jewel from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Becket Casket from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Chief executive of the South West Heritage Trust Tom Mayberry said: “We’re delighted that this wonderful portrait of the first Tudor king is coming to Somerset through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery.

"The king looks at us mistrustfully, just as he must have looked at Perkin Warbeck when they met in Taunton more than 500 years ago.

"This is a brief and special opportunity to see a great national treasure here in Somerset.”

The exhibition will be free to visit and opens on Tuesday, October 17.

A programme of talks will take place in November exploring the history of the portrait and the story of Perkin Warbeck’s ill-fated rebellion against the king.

The portrait of Henry VII is one of two exhibitions bringing internationally-important art to the county over the autumn and winter.