In this bust-length portrait image, Henry VII (1457-509; reigned 1485-1509) is shown looking toward the viewer, his face and torso turned very slightly to his left. The circular badge on his black cap, supporting a single pendant jewel, has a border of mounted gems, alternately rectangular and round, enclosing an indecipherable central motif. He wears a fur tippet over an embroidered russet gown lined with ermine, with a red tunic beneath. Across his chest and shoulders, overlapped by the fur, is a broad, jewel-encrusted collar with deeply undulating edges forming shapes resembling shields or cartouches, interspersed with pearls.
The Society’s two very similar late sixteenth-century paintings of Henry VII are among the finest surviving versions of a portrait type derived from the posthumous image of the king in the dynastic mural for Whitehall Palace in London, painted by Hans Holbein the Younger before 1537. As the palace and mural were destroyed by fire in 1698, these portraits are an important echo of that lost historical monument. Holbein’s preparatory cartoon for the mural shows Henry VII looking to his left, in the direction of his wife, Elizabeth of York, but the copy of the painting itself, made by Remigius van Leemput in 1667, confirms that in the finished picture, Henry’s gaze was turned, as here, towards the spectator. In the Society’s version, the detailing of the collar is more elaborate than the simple medallions shown on the preparatory cartoon of the Whitehall mural or its copy.
The Society has another very similar example of this late portrait type: LDSAL299 the Leathes version.