With the images having been part of the national consciousness since they were first painted, replicas and works derived from the originals abound and are not uncommon at auction. Among two examples sold in the last year were later portraits with very different dates.
Like many that emerge, both were based on the Holbein portrait of the king in his feathered black hat and fur-lined cloak (originally executed for the Whitehall Mural in 1537 but produced in multiple versions by the artist and his studio throughout the sitter’s lifetime and widely reproduced subsequently).
Most recently a small oil on panel emerged at Cheffins (24.5% buyer’s premium) in Cambridge on March 23 which the catalogue stated was ‘believed to be a 16th century copy’.
It had some condition issues including old woodworm holes running along the centre of the panel, flaking to the paint layer and extensive overpaint across the panel covering some old paint loss.
Measuring 13¾ x 10½in (35 x 27cm), it had previously sold at Christie’s in June 2013 where it was knocked down at £2600. Here it was pitched at £3000-5000 and was sold at the lower end of expectations, perhaps an indication that some parties may have deemed it from a later period than was suggested.
Meanwhile, a larger version that was known to have a 19th century date was offered with a £4000-6000 estimate at Woolley & Wallis on November 9.
The 3ft 4in x 2ft 6in (1.01m x 75cm) oil on panel was painted by a Victorian artist called EJ Shepherd in 1885 and had a panel on the back which was signed and inscribed: Copied by special permission of Her Majesty at Windsor Castle.
In a carved oak frame, decorated with scrolls and bunches of fruit, it had been acquired in the 1990s by Micheál and Elizabeth Feller for their collection at the Elizabethan house Upper Slaughter Manor in the Cotswolds. It sold at £4000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).