How tree rings help solve a Tudor mystery

The most powerful image we have today of Henry the Eighth is thanks to a portrait the Monarch commissioned from a German painter called Hans Holbein the Younger.


The painting of Henry V111 at the Victoria Art Gallery


It originally featured in a mural that also included the king’s wife – Jane Seymour- and his parents – Henry the 7th and Elizabeth of York.

The original was destroyed when Whitehall Palace was consumed by fire in 1698 but – thankfully – Henry recognised the iconic importance of this royal image and encouraged other artists to paint their own copies of the work to circulate amongst friends and ambassadors.


Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery was hoping the image of Henry they had in their collection was one of these Tudor copies but – until now – they couldn’t be sure.



I have been along to talk to Collections Manager Katharine Wall to find out more about how their image of Henry has been put to the test.

I asked her first to explain how it came into their collection.