Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Holbein's Henry VIII

Holbein's Henry VIII
© TopFoto.co.uk

Henry VIII is among the English monarchs who most capture our modern imaginations. And this great portrait has helped to determine how we think of him: talented, temperamental and larger-than-life.

Henry's image was largely defined by this one artist, Hans Holbein. And yet Holbein was not, as it happens, one of the King's subjects, but a German visitor; so who was he, this foreign painter who had such a crucial impact on how we remember England's Tudor age? What was the context artistically, politically in which the portrait was painted? It was completed in 1537, as a mural in the Palace of Whitehall, but the Palace subsequently burned down and the mural was destroyed. So when we visit the painting in a gallery today, what exactly is it that were looking at? And why is it important?

Click here to start exploring