William (or Guillim) Scrots (or Scrotes or Stretes) (active 1537-1553) was a painter of the Tudor court and an exponent of the Mannerist style of painting in the Netherlands. He is first heard of when appointed a court painter to Mary of Habsburg, Regent of the Netherlands, in 1537. In England, he followed Hans Holbein as King's Painter to Henry VIII in 1546, with a substantial annual salary of £62 10s, over twice as much as Holbein's thirty pounds a year. He continued in this role during the reign of the boy king Edward VI. His salary was stopped on Edward's death in 1553, after which it is not known what became of him, though it is presumed he left England.
Edward VI, attributed to Scrots, Hampton Court.
Portrait of Edward VI in distorted perspective, 1546.Little more is known of Scrots than that his paintings showed an interest in ingenious techniques and detailed accessories. Scrots was paid 50 marks in 1551 for three "great tables", two of which were portraits of Edward delivered to the ambassadors Thomas Hoby and John Mason as gifts for foreign monarchs, and the third a "picture of the late earle of Surrey attainted." Two full-length portraits of Edward VI in a pose similar to that of Holbein's portrait of his father, one now in the Royal Collection (left) and another now in the Louvre (below), are attributed to Scrots and are likely to be these two paintings. Scrots also painted an anamorphic profile of Edward VI, distorted so that it is impossible to view it normally except from a special angle to the side. This optical trick is similar to that used by Holbein in his painting The Ambassadors and in contemporary portraits of Francis I and Ferdinand I. Later, when the painting was exhibited at Whitehall Palace in the winter of 1591-92, it created a sensation, and important visitors were all taken to see it.