Hans Holbein, one of the greatest portrait painters of the 16th century, painted a legendary portrait of Anne of Cleves in 1539. The portrait was commissioned by King Henry VIII to appraise her as a possible wife. However, Henry was disappointed with Anne in person and divorced her after a brief unconsummated marriage. Despite this, Holbein’s exquisite painting became one of his most prized treasures.
Holbein’s portraits were noted for their realism and meticulous attention to detail. In the portrait of Anne of Cleves, she is dressed lavishly in rich fabrics with an extravagant headdress adorned with gemstones that exude wealth and status. Her expression appears to be calm and collected as she confidently gazes at the viewer.
It’s worth noting that some experts believe that this painting may depict Henry VIII’s fourth wife rather than his fifth, due to historical records being unclear about which wife Holbein actually painted. Regardless, it remains an iconic example of Renaissance portraiture that highlights both Holbein’s talents as a painter and historical significance regarding Henry VIII’s marital history.