London – City of London – Museum of London (Portrait of King Henry VIII)

The first thing I’ve discovered from this artwork is that the National Portrait Gallery is closed until the spring of 2023, I just thought that they were being a little slow to re-open after the health crisis. Anyway, this is one of the gallery’s artworks, currently on loan to the Museum of London.

I’m puzzled that the Museum of London term this as a “portrait bust”, as I don’t know what that means. The National Portrait Gallery don’t use this terminology and it just looks like a portrait to me. It’s also mentioned to be after (ie, a copy of) a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, with the gallery saying it was painted between 1536 and 1537, but other on-line sources say it might be 1538. Some people can be very precise….

Anyway, it came into the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in 1871 and Holbein’s studio seemingly produced numerous versions of these paintings. It was painted during the process of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, relevant since the artwork is located within the exhibits on this subject in the Museum of London. I’m not sure that the King looks particularly strong in this image either, his eyes look tired and he doesn’t appear very magisterial. I’m not entirely sure who would have bought this and I don’t think that its provenance is known.