|Hans Holbein's magnificent portrait of King Henry VIII is one of the most famous pictures of a monarch ever painted. It hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, in London, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.|
This portrait nicely illustrates how difficult it can be to select national symbols. To be sure, Henry VIII was king of England, as was his father, Henry VII. But Henry VII was Henry Tudor before he became king, and he was a Welshman! This means that Henry VIII was at least as Welsh as he was English. As for Holbein, he was born in Germany, then moved to Switzerland, and only reached England in his very late twenties. So the painter was even less of an Englishman than the subject of his portrait.
Hans Holbein painted over 100 portraits of Henry, his family and English nobles, but this portrait of Henry is his most famous work. It was painted on one of the walls of Whitehall Palace in 1537. When the palace burnt down in 1698, the mural was destroyed. Fortunately for future generations, there were many copies of the painting.
|Henry was 46 at the time the Whitehall mural was painted, yet in the picture the king appears young, elegant and strong. Holbein elongated Henry's legs (they were much shorter in reality) and made him look younger, slimmer and mоre muscular. The portrait shows how Henry wanted the world to see him. He was a powerful king who was in complete charge of England. Nobody was stronger than Henry VIII, not even Parliament.|Amazing facts
-When Henry VIII became king at the age of 18, he was slim, athletic and handsome. He spoke several languages, liked to dance and was very musical. As an old man, he was a terrifying figure. He was impatient, unpredictable and suffered from fits of depression. And he was so fat that a spe¬cial machine had to take him upstairs.
- After the death of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, Hans Holbein was sent to Europe to paint Henry's potential wives. When Henry saw his portrait of Anne of Cleves, he decided to marry her. But when Anne arrived in England for the wedding Henry was very disappointed with her. 'I see no such thing in her as has been showed me. I like her not," he said. He divorced Anne six months later.