King Henry VI

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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King Henry VI

by Unknown English artist
oil on panel, circa 1540
12 1/2 in. x 10 in. (318 mm x 254 mm)
Purchased, 1930
Primary Collection
NPG 2457

On display in Room 1 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • King Henry VI (1421-1471), Reigned 1422-61 and 1470-71. Sitter associated with 39 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait and that of Edward IV were probably paired with other portraits of these sitters as examples of warring kings.

Related worksback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Tudor Portraits Resource Pack, p. 3
  • 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. 12
  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 14
  • MacLeod, Catharine, Tudor Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 3
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 296
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 32, 149 Read entry

    Painted and gilt oak, mitred lap joint with corner dowels visible in the frieze, the outer gilt moulding and on the back face of the frame, the inner moulding and the hollow of the outer moulding gilt, the rest of the outer moulding black, the frieze brown with the original gilt lettering, HENRICVS VI, much of the paint renewed, a pair of hanging holes at the top centre pierced through the back and top edge of the frame. 2 3⁄ 8 inches wide.

    This is one of a group of panels painted in about 1540 by an unknown artist known for the cast shadows in his portraits. Both the frame and panel are of oak. The frame is an engaged or grooved frame, with panel fitted into grooves in the side of the frame. The frame is held in place by wooden dowels at the corners. To find a frame like this with its grooves intact is unusual; those on the companion portrait of Edward IV in the National Portrait Gallery have been cut away, but a similar portrait of Edward IV at the Society of Antiquaries retains the original grooves.

  • Strong, Roy, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 1969, p. 146
  • Williamson, David, Kings and Queens, 2010, p. 68
  • Williamson, David, The National Portrait Gallery: History of the Kings and Queens of England, 1998, p. 71

Events of 1540back to top

Current affairs

King Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves in January but then takes Catherine Howard as a mistress in June. Henry and Anne's marriage is annulled and he weds Catherine in July.
Sir Thomas Cromwell is beheaded for High Treason. Catharine Howard's uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk replaces him as Henry VIII's chief minister.
Waltham Abbey becomes the final abbey to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Art and science

Stirling Palace begun for King James V of Scotland, it is built in the French Renaissance style.


The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V enters Ghent in Flanders after the city had offered its allegiance to Francis I of France.
Pope Paul III grants official approval the Catholic Order of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, through the papal bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae (To the Government of the Church Militant).

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