The portrait is a version of king's effigy created by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1537 as part of a mural in the Whitehall Palace. The original was destroyed by fire in 1698, however the popularity of image resulted in numerous copies possibly commissioned by the king himself. They are similar in pose but with great variation in details. It is almost certain that the author known the model. Good quality, more linear and more precise composition and individuality in style and detail of the Warsaw's portrait proofs the circle of the master and possibly Flemish school of Lucas Horenbout.
The portrait conveys the powerful personality and royal dignity without standard accoutrements.The effigy fills out the entire space and shows Henry VIII in his mid forties endowed with considerable psychological depth. After a bad tiltyard accident in 1536, he appears to be more conscious on his own mortality.
The sitter was made more imposing and younger then in reality. The face is static and is looking directly at the spectator. He is clutching gloves with his right hand, while left thumb is hooked around a belt that holds the dagger.
The profuse garment is also an expression of power and authority. The king wears an ermine-lined and embroided navy blue overgown with split hanging sleeves over a brocade jerkin and an embroidered and slashed doublet. Sleeves and doublet are paned and fastened with jewels. A black "halo" hat and a circular chain adds up to the impression of divinity. In Warsaw's version the king is more youthful, less tired, less aggressive and less defiant then in original version. Enormous codpiece, partially hidden under the skirts of the jerkin, emphasizes Henry's virility and masculinity capable to secure the future of the dynasty.
The portrait is almost identical with a version in the Royal Collection dated c.1570-1599 (inventory number 404107), although the British one is of much lower quality, especially when it comes to face modelling.
oil on oak, 1540s, 106 × 79 cm (41.7 × 31.1 in), inventory number 128165, currently not on permanent display, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie (MNW)
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