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King Henry VIII (1491–1547)

British (English) School

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1515 - 1520

Materials

Oil on panel

Measurements

445 x 298 mm (17 1/2 x 11 3/4 in)

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Library, Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire, East of England, National Trust

NT 515572

Caption

Several images of Henry VIII were painted during his reign, probably the best known being the large drawing by Holbein, which showed the king surrounded by his family. This earlier image, by contrast, was not painted to commemorate the strength and triumphs of the Tudor dynasty but to record a truthful likeness of the young king. It shows Henry just after he had started to grow a beard, which seems to have caused some comment. For instance Sebastiano Giustiniani recorded in September 1519: ‘He was very fair and his whole frame admirably proportioned. Hearing that King Francis wore a beard, he allowed his to grow’, and Lodovico Faber reported in November 1531: ‘His head imperial and bald (i.e. cropped) and he wears a beard, contrary to English custom.’

Summary

Oil painting on panel, King Henry VIII (1491–1547), British (English) School, circa 1515/20. Almost half-length portrait, turned slightly to left, gazing to the left, eyes inward looking, whispy reddish beard and red hair covering his ears; wearing a crimson cloak with a brown fur collar, over a gold brocade shirt; jewelled collar hung from shoulders, with red stones and pearls and large pendant green stone and pearl; a necklace with elaborate pendant of green and red stones and pendant pearls; black bonnet with a medallion-jewel; holding a red Tudor rose in his right hand. A green brocade background behind a gilded arch above his head embellished with cusping around the lower edge. Label on frame 'Henry VIII c.1516, 1491-1547'. Label on back 'From the following collections - The Leighs of Allington, Bernal 1862, Duke of Newcastle, Henry Pelham Archibald Douglas Pelham-Clinton, The Hon The Earl of Lincoln. Exhibited at the Art Treasures, Manchester 1857 No.22'.

Provenance

Reputedly in the collection of the Leigh family, Allington; possibly in the collection of Ralph Bernal; possibly Henry Pelham Fiennes, 5th Duke of Newcastle (1811-1864); thence by descent to Henry Edward Hugh, Earl of Lincoln, subsequently 9th Duke of Newcastle; acquired by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966); bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents.

Credit line

Anglesey Abbey, The Fairhaven Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

On gilt tablet attached to bottom of inner rim of frame: 1491 Henry VIII 1547. Circa 1516

Makers and roles

British (English) School, artist

References

Three Royal Portraits in the Possession of Lord Fairhaven, The Connoisseur, vol.CXXIII, 1949, p.98, p.98 Fletcher 1976, J. M. Fletcher, A Group of English Royal Portraits Painted Soon After 1513: A Dendrochronological Study, Studies in Conservation, vol.21, 1976, pp.171-8 Grosvenor 2007, Bendor Grosvenor, ed., Lost Faces: Identity and Discovery in Tudor Royal Portraiture, exh.cat., Philip Mould Ltd, London 2007, no.7, pp.38-40

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