In 1536, a lull interrupts this turmoil with the hope that the new queen Jane Seymour brings an heir to the king. Holbein was commissioned to paint a mural for the king's chamber at Whitehall Palace.
Completed in the following year, this work shows the king, his wife and his parents. Henry VIII is very satisfied with the achievement and the artist is salaried, which does not mean that he will have a further access to the king. Many copies of this masterpiece will be made which is a luck because the original was destroyed in a fire in 1698.
The figure of the king is remarkable. In the German style, Holbein has removed the direct attributes of royalty so that Henry is only highlighted by his majestic and authoritarian attitude and by his sumptuous clothing.
On July 8 in London, Sotheby's sells a portrait of the king, oil on panel 93 x 67 cm dated 1542, lot 7 estimated £ 800K. Henry is viewed in mid length. His face has not aged but we know that Holbein was working from drawings and his studies from 1537 were probably still usable. The king is dressed in a great luxury, with a red velvet surcoat and a doublet brocaded in gold and silver.
The artist was skilled. The magnitude of the garment hides the obesity and the physical weakness of the king whose attitude is as arrogant as ever. This image was also copied. The scarcity of the artistic documents of the time does not enable to formally attribute it to Holbein.
The date 1542 is interesting. The fifth consort queen of that reign, Catherine Howard, had just fallen for adultery and her family was threatened with spoliation. This painting is now sold by the Howards, who maybe had owned it from the origin. A prolific portrait painter, Holbein had also worked with the Howards.
The royal portrait may have been commissioned by the old Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk, one of the most intriguing courtiers, to facilitate a reconciliation with the king.