Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Question from Marilyn R - 1509 portrait of Henry VIII

I am fascinated by the painting in the collection of the Denver Museum said to be of Henry VIII at the time of his coronation in 1509. Can this long-faced, slim and dark-haired youth really be Henry at 18? I seem to remember that David Starkey says it is, but I have always thought the ‘1509’ portrait was probably of Henry VII as a young man.

Compare the painting at Wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England with the NPG portrait (on this site) of Henry VIII from about 1520 painted by an unknown artist.

They can’t both be of Henry VIII – can they?


Mary R said...

I am in no way an expert, but I do agree that the Denver portrait looks more like the images of Henry VII than those of Henry VIII.

Come to think of it, it seems that quite a few Tudor era portraits were misidentified. One presumed to be of Jane Grey was later identified as a portrait of Katherine Parr. One thought to be of Catherine Howard turned out not to be. Ditto for one thought to be of Frances Grey.

It seems to me that even the most eminent scholars do a lot of guessing:)!

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the Berger Collection? If so, can you post a link to the picture? I wasn't aware that they had a picture of Henry dated to c. 1509 in their collection. Given the many known pictures of Henry VII from around this same period of time (ie late 1490s, early 1500s), I cannot see how the Berger picture could be Henry VII. The likeness is very different in the Berger picture. Best, Hope Walker

Marilyn R said...

It’s Berger Collection 17964 and said to be Henry VIII in his early twenties, c. 1513. I thought it was earlier, sorry for the error.

I saw it in the British Library exhibition in 2009 and wondered if it is really a much earlier painting of his father. To my mind it is nothing like how we see Henry VIII in any other painting, but does have a similarity to Henry VII, especially the painting of him as a young man now in the Musee Calvet, Avignon.

Anonymous said...

Could the portrait be of Prince Arthur?

tudor princess said...

In the catalogue of the Denver collection, it states the following:

"He is shown wearing a red gown with brown fur edges with the sleeves slashed to reveal cloth of gold beneath." It then goes on to comment on the rich jewellery and the hat badge which is gold.

According to this, only kings are allowed to wear gold cap badges.

The word on the ledge of the frame roughly translates as"With good fortune may he surpass the years of that man Nestor".

I was always under the impression that Henry VII was very cash-strapped in his early years abroad and I cannot see him being depicted like this.

I think the portrait has been analysed by the NPG through dendrochronology so it may be worth asking them.

I agree over the confusion of portraits between Henry and Arthur.

Marilyn R said...

Tudor Princess,

That's very interesting.

I have been trying to find the painting of Henry VII I mentioned on the Musee Calvet website, but can't see it. I know Wikipedia is not reliable, but it dates the painting to between 1470-80, which would make Henry Tudor only 23 at the most. He is richly dressed and has an ornate badge on his hat.

I'm not looking for information as part of a research project, just for my own interest. Thanks for the reply.

Marilyn R said...

Interesting that Thomas Penn in his programme on Henry VII shown last night on BBC2 used the Berger Collection portrait as Arthur and one usually said to be of young Arthur as being Henry.