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King Henry VIII

after Hans Holbein the Younger
oil on panel, probably 17th century
19 in. x 13 1/2 in. (483 mm x 343 mm)
Purchased, 1871
NPG 324

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06 July 2017, 07:52

Appendix One
Dating the NPG portrait of Henry VIII (NPG 324)

The NPG says this portrait was painted in 1536 to 1537. The following suggests a date of 1538 is more likely.


1531 James V of Scotland made knight of the Golden Fleece in view of his unfulfilled negotiations for a marriage to the sister of Charles V (see 1538).
1536 Anne Boleyn executed
1536 Marriage of Henry to Jane Seymour
1536 Italian War between France and Spain. To 1538.
1537 Death of Jane Seymour in childbirth
1537 Marriage negotiations between recently widowed James V of Scotland and Marie of Guise. Henry also offers marriage to prevent Franco-Scottish alliance.
1538 Marriage of James and Marie.
1538 End of mourning for Jane Seymour (to 2 February)
1538 Holbein in Brussels to paint Christina of Denmark, then aged 17 dowager Duchess of Milan, who was living with her aunt the Dowager Queen Mary of Hungary who was governor of the Low Countries on behalf of her brother Charles V. Christina refuses Henry’s offer of marriage and is married in 1541to the son of the Duke of Lorraine, cousin of Marie of Guise.
1539 Peace of Toledo, between Charles and Francis of France, ends the Italian War.
1539 Holbein paints portrait of Anne of Cleves and her younger sister, Amalia in view of possible marriage proposals.
1540 Henry marries Anne of Cleves whose father was an enemy of Charles of Spain.

The fact that the NPG portrait has the Order of the Golden Fleece added to the standard Holbein-based depiction of Henry VIII indicates that at the time it was painted the King wished to be seen as being favourable to Hapsbourg interests. The only time this was credible was during the negotiations to marry Christina of Denmark, that is in 1538. So it is likely the portrait was painted in 1538, not earlier, unless the NPG portrait was already in existence (there must have been many copies of Holbein’s portrait in existence at the time, given the number which have survived to this day), and the Order over-painted.


12 March 2017, 02:15

what does "after Hans Holbein" mean?

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