Portrait of Anne of Cleves Hans Holbein Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This portrait of Anne of Cleves continues Hans Holbein's strong connection to the ruling monarch of Henry VIII of England as well as several of his wives. He produced several portraits of each of them.

The subject again holds a fairly modest expression, neither particularly happy nor sad. Her beautiful attire immediately grabs your attention, as does her considerable amounts of accessories, including a large cross that hangs above her chest. It is difficult to imagine any of his wives without considering their eventual fates and to assume a relationship of relative submission to this aggressive King who lacked compassion in his latter years.

This famous portrait painter would generally capture his sunjects in three-quarter length view with a very plain, dark background which enabled the model to receive as much light as possible and to stand out as a result. In many cases he would have had the person sit for several hours and make multiple drawings before returning to his studio and completing the painting itself. It would then go through a series of tweaks before the artist would later release it to whoever had ordered the commission in the first place.

This portrait was completed in 1539 and displays the wife who would outlive all of her husband's others wives. Indeed she departed with relatively little fuss and remained on relatively good terms with the monarch for many years. She also received a generous package of compensation after their short marriage came to an end, which King Henry VIII was under no obligation to give.