The great German portrait painter Holbein spent much of his life in England, employed by private patrons and the Court. Among his chief commissions for Henry VIII was a mural in Whitehall Palace showing the King and his wife, Jane Seymour, accompanied by Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. The mural was destroyed by fire in the 17th century, but several copies of the section showing Henry VIII survive, of which this is probably the best. In this massive figure, sumptuously dressed, proud and defiant, Holbein created one of the most powerful and memorable images of kingship.


  • Title: Portrait of Henry VIII
  • Creator: Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger
  • Date Created: 1537/1547
  • tag / style: Hans Holbein; Henry VIII; Portraiture; king; jewellery; curtain; rug; codpiece; hat; beard; necklace; chain; gold; embroidery; pose; full-length; gloves; garter; dagger; royalty; regal; wealthy
  • Physical Dimensions: w1345 x h2390 cm (without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: This portrait is a copy of a scene painted on the Whitehall Mural, created by Hans Holbein in 1537. Hans Holbein worked for Henry VIII from 1532 until his death in 1543. He also worked at court during the preiod 1526–28. The portrait was produced by an unknown artist who was familiar with the Whitehall mural and the artist had access to the designs or patterns used by Holbein. Differences between this portrait and Holbein’s original mural relate to the architectural background which is much simplified in this version. Also, the artist of this portrait made changes to the composition, such as the addition of a luxurious curtain on the right of the painting.
  • Additional artwork information: This painting was the subject of an ‘Artwork of the Month’ talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2008. To read the notes from this talk please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=360
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased with funds from the Wavertree Bequest in 1945

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