by Alexandra Tuschka
A resolute man looks at us from the background of the picture. His shoulders are broad, his face marked by an expression of aggressiveness. The gaze meets the viewer head-on and without hesitation.
Unfortunately, the sitter had neither during his lifetime nor posthumously a good reputation. As the epitome of lechery, lust and cruelty, the English king Herinich VIII is known to us today. Dickens even called him a "ruffian and bloodthirsty rogue."
The numbers speak for themselves. During his reign, which lasted nearly four decades, there were 70,000 death sentences. As a young man, Henry was considered extraordinarily handsome; however, as he aged, he was to grow in such fullness that contemporaries made fun of him. A few years after this, probably highly idealized, painting, it took four servants and a pulley to lift the corpulent ruler out of bed.
Henry also showed dubious behavior in love: he was married six times. He had two of his wives executed for adultery.
Hans Holbein the Younger - Henry VIII.
Oil on canvas, 1540, 88.5 x 74.5 cm, National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome