Katherine of Aragon

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Katherine of Aragon

attributed to Lucas Horenbout (or Hornebolte)
watercolour on vellum, circa 1525
1 1/2 in. (38 mm) diameter
Purchased, 1969
Primary Collection
NPG 4682


Areas of past paint loss in the face, now con…
The gold of the necklace has been created usi…
Each painted pearl has a shadow created by a…
The gold inscription appears to have been app…

Sitterback to top

  • Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536), First Queen of Henry VIII. Sitter associated with 17 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

The Latin inscription signifies 'Katherine, his wife', and suggests that this miniature was a pair with one of Henry VIII. She wears a jewelled cross and a brooch with the letters IHS, the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Lost faces : identity and discovery in Tudor Royal portraiture, 2007 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from Catalogue of an exhbition held at Philip Mould, London, 6-18 March 2007), p. 57 number 36
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 109
  • Walker, Richard, Miniatures: 300 Years of the English Miniature, 1998, p. 18 Read entry

    The youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Catherine married (in 1501) Arthur, Prince of Wales, who died the following year. In 1509 she married his younger brother, Henry VIII, and became the mother of Mary I. In 1533, Henry, longing for a male heir, divorced her, with historic consequences.

    The tradition of miniature portrait painting in England starts at the court of Henry VIII, though of course the art had been known long before, in the illumination of medieval manuscripts. It was brought to London by the Fleming Lucas Horenbout. Henry's enthusiasm for Horenbout attracted the attention of one of the greatest of European artists, Hans Holbein, who visited England between 1526 and 1528, and then again for a longer period, 1532-43.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1525back to top

Current affairs

The Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey gives Hampton Court Palace, completed in 1516, as a gift to Henry VIII.

Art and science

The New Testament is translated into English by William Tyndale.


The Battle of Pavia - Francis I of France is defeated and captured by the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He is imprisoned and forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Madrid.
The Peasants' War in German ends with the lords defeat of the rebel peasants at the Battle of Frankenhausen and the execution of the revolutionary preacher Thomas Müntzer.

Tell us more back to top

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Linda Wiesen

15 November 2015, 23:30

The IHS brooch is the one worn by Jane Seymour in her most recognized portrait by Hans Holbein the younger.

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