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Henry VII, or not Henry VII, that is the question….

Portrait of Henry VIIHenry VII - Jean Monier (or Mosnier; 1600–1656) Henry VII - rare portrait

Now then, I look at the above portraits and do not see Henry VII of England (1457-1509) on the right or below. The portrait on the above left is Henry. The general consensus is that the other two more resemble Vlad the Impaler. Well, the one on the right does, while the clothing of the one below doesn’t seem very 15th-century English, or early 16th-century English either. And yet they are both identified as Henry Tudor, the founder of his dynasty, who is most certainly the subject of the portrait above left.

The right portrait clearly indicates that it is of Henry VII ‘d’Angleterre’, of which there was most certainly only one monarch to fit that name, number and realm. But the sitter, whoever it is, cannot possibly be Henry, can it? Well, there is something about the eyes. Henry is known to have had a ‘lazy’ eye (or something similar) that gave him a rather unsettling appearance. One eye would apparently look at you, and the other would seek you a little afterward. It has even been said that he would have actually been blind in the ‘lazy’ eye, although I have no source to quote on this. All I know about this portrait is that it has been credited to the French painter Jean Monier (or Mosnier; 1600–1656). Which means, of course, that he would not have been painting during Henry’s lifetime. But he could have copied an original, Possibly.

The portrait below is identified as Henry VII, 1457-1509, by an unknown artist, held at Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service. I found it on a BBC webpage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/…/portrait-of-an-unknown-nobleman… To me, it too has a rather east-European look, especially the hat, but there is much more of a likeness to the Henry of the ‘true’ portrait, top left. The eyes, of course, seem uneven enough, the cheekbones high enough, and the hair the right colour. The eyes, however, should surely be grey or blue, not brown? Brown does not seem to fit any description of Henry Tudor that I know of. But – is it Henry VII? Would our Henry have worn a bright red hat/bonnet? He always seemed to wear black headwear.

The answer I have for my own question is…I have no idea if all these portraits are of Henry VII, although I’m very doubtful indeed about one on the right. But the one below seems, well, as if it could perhaps be. The one top left is our first Tudor king – at least, I have yet to hear its authenticity challenged. Perhaps someone has the answer to this little mystery?

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