Hans Holbein – Court Painter & Costume Designer

Hans Holbein – Court Painter & Costume Designer
Hans Holbein the Younger is best known as court painter to King Henry VIII. His costume design can be seen in an opera of today.

Henry VIII of England is best remembered for his six marriages (four were annulled) and his participation in separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.

Henry’s second wife and queen of England (1533-1536) was Anne Boleyn. She was later accused of adultery, incest and high treason. She was subsequently beheaded at the Tower of London on May 19, 1536 for crimes she said she did not commit.
Photo of the Tower of London by the author Camille Gizzarelli

As Hans Holbein was the court painter, he would paint Henry VIII in 1536, three years after his painting "The Ambassadors" with its anamorphic skull and hidden meanings. This Holbein painting resides in the National Gallery, London.

Referring to the painting shown below, the portrait of the man on the left has been identified as Jean de Dinteville, the French ambassador to the court of Henry VIII. This exemplifies Holbein’s technique of painting people with notable stature wearing opulent clothing and sometimes (as is the case with the king) to extend their body beyond the constraints of the canvas.
This would portray the king as having a stout physique or being ‘larger than life'.

Artist Hans Holbein’s drawings provide proof that he designed Henry VIII’s state robes as well as his suit of armor.

With that in mind, the Metropolitan Opera begins its fall 2011 season with "Anna Bolena" – the life and death of Anne Boleyn. The costumes, of Gothic secular attire, were inspired by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Although Holbein may not have painted Anne Boleyn, he did paint Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves in 1539.

You can own a premium giclee print of Hans Holbein the Younger's "The Ambassadors."

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This content was written by Camille Gizzarelli. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Camille Gizzarelli for details.