“Portrait of Henry VIII,” Hans Golbane – overview

“Portrait of Henry VIII,” Hans Golbane – overview
“Portrait of Henry VIII,” Hans Golbane - overview - 1

  • Posted by Hans Golbein the Younger
  • Museum: Thyssen-Bornemis Museum
  • Year: 1536-1537

Overview of the painting :

Portrait of Henry VIII – Hans Golbane. 1536-1537. Canvas, tempera. 28 x 19 cm

   Thanks to the work of this wonderful artist, we can imagine the appearance of one of the most odious kings in England. Henry VIII is well known in his actions as a person who forever changed his religion in the UK because of his desire to create a dynasty. To do this, he needed a son – the heir to the throne. The epic with numerous marriages and executions of objectionable wives created a reputation for him as a cruel and unstable person.

   On the portrait of the Holbein Younger brush, a middle-aged man with a clearly overweight appears before us. In his appearance, you can understand that once this tall and strong prince was considered the first handsome of the kingdom. But the lifestyle affected his appearance and health. In addition, the injury sustained during the knightly tournament somehow negatively affected his psyche. The courtiers said that their king seemed to be replaced. He became a nervous, suspicious, real tyrant.

   The portrait of the master perfectly reflects the main features of Heinrich Tudor. A small mouth, toasted lips, a wary look to the side, and not aimed directly at the viewer – all this from a certain point of view characterizes the king. The features of his face are conveyed very accurately, at least he is recognizable from other surviving images. Traces of former beauty, preserved from youth, are visible on his slightly strayed full face.

   The king’s clothes are direct evidence of his wealth and significance. Henry VIII loved richly decorated, colorful outfits, but he dressed with great taste, in the style and spirit of his time. The artist perfectly conveyed all the smallest details of his toilet – expensive fur, valuable steam and silk fabrics, numerous gold jewelry, embroidery, original headgear.

   The color scheme of the picture is harmonious and sophisticated. The colors are saturated, but not screaming, the texture and brilliance of tissues, furs, jewelry are very well conveyed. The single-ton base of dark blue is used as the background. However, to write it, a very expensive pigment in those days was used – ultramarine. Even this detail emphasizes the wealth and power of the English king, who was the sovereign master of the whole kingdom.

   The picture strikes with the abundance and accuracy of the details, but for good reason the Holbein the Younger was considered one of the best portrait painters of his time. Thanks to his skill, we can make our own opinion about the appearance of the legendary ruler.