Matthew Ryan and the Illustration of King Richard III’s time


I don’t promise too much, when I announce our next interview guest as the man who really makes history visible.
How is that possible, you will likely ask, but with extensive research and lifelong exercise and even archery training as background, Mr. Matthew Ryan as well has the experience as the talent to bring the time of King Richard back in full colour.


Here now our interview with Historical Illustrator


Matthew Ryan


Thank you for joining us today and sharing your wonderful artwork with us.

Matthew Ryan in front of St Albans canvas

Matthew Ryan in front of St Albans canvas


What especially interests us is, how did you come to do historical illustrations?


Archer by Matthew Ryan

I have always drawn and painted for as long as I can remember and as a boy most of my pictures were of knights and battles (though not very historically accurate back then). I loved the work of John Howe and Alan Lee [KRA-Comment: Those two artists will especially interest all Tolkien- and “The Hobbit” fans.] and was also very inspired as a child by the Illustrations of Knights by Julek Heller.

After leaving School I studied for a H.N.D. in Visual Communications and also did a Degree in Illustration. I then worked for eleven years as a traditional signwriter/advertiser and although I enjoyed my work it was not what I wanted to be doing.

All this time however I was reading history books and visiting places of historic interest. History has always been a passion of mine especially the medieval period.

Warwick Archer

Warwick Archer by Matthew Ryan

I have also shot Longbows for most of my life and for the past few years Warbows, I took much inspiration from reading books by people such as Hugh Soar, Robert Hardy and Anne Curry and also seeing how people like Simon Stanley, Mark Stretton and Steve Stratton draw back the heavy bows. I find that making and shooting my own arrows gives me a small but real connection to the thoughts and ideas of our ancestors and is a good indirect inspiration to my work.

All these influences took me to where I am today and I put my two greatest passions together, art and history and now work as an historical Illustrator. I now find the pictures that I am producing are a lot more productive because I am illustrating something that I am passionate about.


What methods of painting / drawing do you like best or prefer to use?

I love working with most materials but my favourite is oil paint, as this really lets me put a lot of depth and detail into my work. I also like working in just pencil and enjoy the simple nature of that medium.

St Albans canvas (draft)

St Albans canvas (draft) - by Matthew Ryan


What are your favourite topics for your paintings?

Duke of Somerset

Duke of Somerset (by Matthew Ryan)

I am inspired by painting big and fantastic events from the past featuring kings and people of note but I also love to portray the common person in quieter pictures and try to give an insight into the day to day life of people of that time. Emotion is something I love to get into my pictures so I try to show that in my work and I think it helps to bring the pictures to life.

St Albans - detail of wounded soldier

St Albans - wounded soldier (by Matthew Ryan)


What is your favourite historic timeframe and why is that so?

Because of my love of archery it has to be the Hundred Years War but visually I enjoy the style of armour and clothing from the times of The Wars of the Roses and am fascinated by the drama of this period.

Edmund Beaufort

Edmund Beaufort and Lancastrian troops by Matthew Ryan


Here on KingRichardArmitage, with all the historical interest showing up around Mr. Armitage’s mentioning of King Richard III, we are naturally curious, where you get your sources and material for your artwork. How do you research details about a certain time to depict in your illustrations?

Ballock knives

Ballock knives (by Matthew Ryan)

I research in many different ways depending on what I am painting. I try to base much of what I do on contemporary illustrations although this in its self can be fraught with many problems. For details of armour I find viewing carvings on tombs and going to museums very useful and I also visit various re-enactments. Often research and reading takes more of my time than the painting, but the more information and answers I have on a subject the easier the painting is to produce. Speaking to historians is of course a great help and my thanks go out to those who have already given me help and direction.

Yorkist Field Piece

Yorkist Field Piece by Matthew Ryan


Mr. Ryan, you gave us wonderful examples of your work to post together with your interview here on KingRichardArmitage. Where can we find further information about you and your creations?

I do not yet have my own website but people are welcome to view my work on my Facebook page at…
and I can be contacted at…


You let us know, that your next main project will be about King Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth. Why Bosworth and what interests you in King Richard III and his time?

King Richard III's man at the Battle of Bosworth

King Richard's man at the Battle of Bosworth (by Matthew Ryan)

Many things fascinate me about the Battle of Bosworth and King Richard, it is something I hope to base much of my future work on. I find it very inspiring that a King will put himself in mortal danger by leading from the front and fighting amongst his enemies.
I enjoy illustrating historic themes that history may have misinterpreted or unjustly portrayed in the past and Richard III certainly in my opinion fits this bracket.


Your paintings are no mere depictions of a time, but tell a whole and colourful story about fate and life on their own. So let me ask, what is your intention with your artwork about King Richard III and by giving colour to a time long past?

I wish to produce a painting that honours the memory of our last Plantagenet King, the last King to die on the field of battle and a King that has no tomb as a final resting place. I hope when complete the picture does him some justice and may serve as an inspiration for others to find out more about him.


An inspiration your artwork indeed is and it is a joy to discover your creations, which so well revive the past. I hope you will keep us updated on your project about King Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth. We love to hear and see more about your wonderful and well researched painting projects.


Thank you very much for the interview and taking the time to talk with us, Mr. Ryan.



The link to Mr. Ryan’s picture galery on Facebook:

Picture galery on Facebook


To get in contact with Mr. Ryan:





Further News about King Richard III:


Maria Grazia (Fly High!)- Interview & Giveaway with Cecilia Latella about Richard III


Maria Grazia posted an interview with artist Cecilia Latella about her comic book “The Boar“, depicting the life and fate of King Richard III. Cecilia Latella speaks about her way to King Richard III and has some very interesting reading tips for new and advanced King Richard fans.


Leave a comment at her blog post till March 5th, 2012 to enter the giveaway contest for either a free Italian (print book) or an English (e-book) version of the comic book “The Boar” by Cecilia Latella.




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Can new evidence clear the name of Richard III? (by Chris Lloyd, Darlington & Stockton Times)

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January 31, 2021

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January 12, 2021

Alternate history: what if Richard III had won at Bosworth? – Professor Emeritus Michael Hicks interviewed by Jonny Wilkes (by Jonny Wilkes, Professor Emeritus Michael Hicks, BBC History Revealed)

September 11, 2020

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April 9, 2020

Steve Coogan confirms Richard III movie ‘next year’ (by BBC East Midlands,

November 1, 2019

Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth – By Mike Ingram (HeritageDaily)

October 8, 2019

Painted as a villain – how the Tudors regarded Richard III (by Christina J. Faraday, APOLLO.The International Art Magazine)


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