The Ditchley Henry VIII

English School
1590 – 1610

The Ditchley Henry VIII

Painted circa 1610

Oil on Canvas: 92 3/16 x 59 3/8 inches, 230.5 x 148.5 cm

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Provenance

  • With The Weiss Gallery, 2012, sold to
  • Private collection

As the most potent and iconic image ever created of a monarch, Holbein’s monumental portrayal of Henry VIII has come down to us over the centuries through innumerable copies and versions, and even derivations to pub signs. This newly rediscovered work now joins a small surviving group of seven other full-lengths. All the other replica portraits after Holbein of the King are smaller in scale, being either three-quarter, half- or bust-length; the great majority of which were predominantly painted in the second half of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century. Since none of the other known full-length versions are ever likely to be sold, our portrait has extra significance, particularly given its important and prestigious provenance. It was commissioned by Sir Henry Lee, K.G. (1533 - 1611), one of Queen Elizabeth’s most beloved and faithful courtiers, to decorate his newly built long gallery at Ditchley, his home in Oxfordshire. There it would have been a companion to another full-length portrait, Lee’s celebrated masterpiece by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, the so-called Ditchley Elizabeth I, which portrays the elderly Queen standing upon a map of England.

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