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Jane Seymour, Queen of England

Hans Holbein the Younger1536

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

On 29 January 1536, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England’s King Henry VIII, had a miscarriage at Hampton Court Palace. Four months later she was sentenced to death on the charge of alleged unfaithfulness and executed the day before the king’s engagement to Jane Seymour. The later queen had come to Henry’s court in 1530 and served her two predecessors as lady-inwaiting. Jane Seymour is the only one of the wives of Henry VIII buried together with the king at Windsor Castle – not least because she was the mother of the long-awaited and only heir to the throne. She died in October 1537 while giving birth to him. Hans Holbein had made a career for himself in Basel. He had lived in London since 1532 and was appointed court painter to the English monarch in 1536, the year of the royal wedding. The monochrome background of the painting is a concession to the demands of the court portrait. In contrast to the technique he used for other subjects, Holbein conceived such portraits with a pronounced flatness, thus giving them a formal character. Jane Seymour’s precious jewellery, her garment and her pale features are bathed in an even light and presented in every detail – an old-fashioned method that had been superseded by a full-toned chiaroscuro not only in Italian painting (with which Holbein must have beenwell-acquainted). However, it is precisely this plain objectivity that creates the necessary distance from the viewer. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

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Details

  • Title: Jane Seymour, Queen of England
  • Creator: Hans Holbein the Younger
  • Date Created: 1536
  • Style: German Renaissance
  • Provenance: in the Gallery since 1720
  • Physical Dimensions: w407 x h654 cm (without frame)
  • Inventory Number: GG 881
  • Artist Biography: Hans Holbein was a painter, draftsman, and designer who came from a family of artists. He trained in his father's studio in Augsburg before moving to Basel, Switzerland. In Basel, Holbein worked on house decorations, portraits, and woodcuts. He soon became a teacher in the painters' guild in Basel and was very active painting altarpieces and designing stained-glass windows. At the age of twenty-nine Holbein, went to England for two years. There he met the scholar and statesman Sir Thomas More. Holbein painted portraits of him and his family and quickly established an international reputation. Contemporaries marveled at his ability to capture the exact likeness of sitters and their elegant garments. After four years back in Basel to finish work begun earlier in his career, Holbein returned to England. Shortly thereafter, he became exclusive court portrait painter and fashion designer to King Henry VIII of England, a position he held until his death. At courts throughout Europe, Holbein painted portraits of potential brides for the king. As the royal fashion designer, he made designs for all the king's state robes, buttons, buckles, and pageant weapons. ©J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Wood

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