Alfred Holst Tourrier, British, 1836–1892

Witnessing the Execution of a Protestant


Henry ll of France and Diana of Poitiers – Witnessing the Execution of a Protestant, Alfred Holst Tourrier (Turban Holst Alfred Tourrier), British, 1836–1892, signed with initials and dated ‘A.H.T./70’ (on the reverse), 1870, oil on canvas, 37 3/8″ x 56″ –  Exhibited: London, Royal Academy, 1870, no. 112.

Turban Holst Alfred Tourrier (also known as: Alfred Holst Tourrier) was a British painter and the son of a successful artist and drawing instructor named Jean Furcy Tourrier. The elder Tourrier exhibited numerous works at the Royal Academy (1838, 1839, 1843, 1845 and 1846) – primarily landscapes entered in the Drawing and Miniature category. Biographical info from:

Literature: C. Wood, Dictionary of British Art Volume IV: Victorian Painters: The Text, Suffolk, 1995, p. 530:

Henry II of France and Diana of Poitiers witnessing the execution of a Protestant

Henry II, though not of a cruel disposition, was induced by anger and wounded pride to join in the persecution of the Protestants through being brought in contact with one of his own domestics, whose resistance provoked his hatred to Protestantism.

The man chosen for this experiment by Diana of Poitiers and the Cardinal of Lorraine was a workman employed by the king’s tailor. This unfortunate man being brought into the King’s presence, defended his religious principles with great firmness and dignity, and interrupting Diana as she advanced to make a remark, he exclaimed, “Madam, rest satisfied with having infected France with your infamy, but touch not those things which appertain to God.” The King at these words, furious beyond control, swore he would see him burnt alive.

Henry was present at the execution, but was so overcome that he was obliged to leave the window. The martyr, enduring the horrible suffering with the greatest courage and firmness, kept his eyes fixed upon the King, who, horror-stricken and terrified, fied[sic], saying that never again would he witness so horrible a sight.” — Michelet,

The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors …, Volume 7: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from Its Foundation in 1769 to 1904