Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
2 of 26 portraits of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
after Hans Holbein the Younger
oil on panel, early 17th century, based on a work of 1532-1533
30 3/4 in. x 24 3/8 in. (781 mm x 619 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex (circa 1485-1540), Statesman. Sitter associated with 28 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Hans Holbein the Younger (1497 or 1498-1543), Painter, printmaker and designer; son of Hans Holbein the Elder. Artist associated with 308 portraits, Sitter associated with 25 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait is an early seventeenth-century version of an original by Hans Holbein in the Frick Collection, New York, and belonged to Cromwell's descendants.
Linked publicationsback to top
- 100 Portraits, p. 15
- Audio Guide
- Smartify image discovery app
- Bolland, Charlotte; Cooper, Tarnya, The Real Tudors: Kings and Queens Rediscovered, 2014 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12th September 2014 to 1st March 2015), p. 39
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 208
- Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 113
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 34 Read entry
The principal architect of the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon and the subsequent break with Rome, Thomas Cromwell was a statesman who rose to power as the right-hand man of Cardinal Wolsey. A brilliant administrator and legal and evangelical reformer, he later negotiated Henry’s fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves. The failure of this enterprise, and accusations of treason, led to his execution.
After he had become Master of the Jewels in 1532, Cromwell sat to Holbein the Younger (1497/8–1543). Recent technical analysis confirms that this portrait is an early seventeenth-century version of an original by Holbein in the Frick Collection, New York. This painting belonged to Cromwell’s descendants and was probably produced either when the original portrait was sold, or for display in a different family property.
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1532back to top
Current affairsA convocation of English clergy ratifies Thomas Cromwell's Submission of the English Clergy, thereby surrendering all control of the English Church to King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor in protest.
Pope Clement VII threatens to excommunicate King Henry VIII.
Anne Boleyn is made Marchioness of Pembroke.
Art and scienceThomas Cromwell's miniature portrait is painted, probably by the German artist Hans Holbein the Younger.
The first collected edition of Geoffrey Chaucer's works is published by William Thynne.
InternationalSuleiman I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire invades Hungary and fails to conquer Vienna for a second time.
The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro defeats and captures Atahulpa, emperor of the Incas.
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
- Tudor Miniatures
- Technique and effects of the after-Holbein copyists
- Holbein and his copyists
- Tints, texture and original intent, in four after-Holbein portraits
- Director's Trail by Nicholas Cullinan
- The contexts for the production and demand for painted versions and copies in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century
- Loans to the National Gallery
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.