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Hans Holbein the Younger, Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan

Key facts
Full title Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan
Artist Hans Holbein the Younger
Artist dates 1497/8 - 1543
Date made 1538
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 179.1 × 82.6 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Art Fund with the aid of an anonymous donation, 1909
Inventory number NG2475
Location Room 12
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan
Hans Holbein the Younger

This elegant young woman is Christina of Denmark, the youngest daughter of King Christian of Denmark. In 1538, King Henry VIII of England was looking for a fourth wife, after the death of Jane Seymour the previous year. As Henry’s official court artist, Holbein was sent to Brussels to capture the 16-year-old Christina’s likeness.

It’s recorded that Holbein’s sitting with Christina only lasted from 1 to 4 p.m. on 12 March 1538. This is when he made a series of sketches to use as the basis for the painted portrait. The image apparently pleased Henry so much that he was reported to be ‘in better humour than he ever was, making musicians play on their instruments all day long'. Although their marriage negotiations failed, Henry kept Christina’s portrait until his death in 1547.

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