The Anne of Cleves Louvre Portrait Got a Makeover

The Anne of Cleves Louvre Portrait, Painted by Hans Holbein, Got a Massive Glow-Up by the Restoration Team.

Apr 1, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The Anne of Cleves
The Louvre. Via Wikipedia.


The Anne of Cleves Louvre portrait, painted by Hans Holbein, got a massive glow-up by the restoration team. The painting returned to the museum’s the Richelieu Wing, following the removal of the 1539 painting for restoration and cleaning. The painting has existed in the Louvre’s collection since it opened in 1793.


The Remodelling Crew Accomplished Excellent Results

The Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1539. Source: The Louvre, Paris


The remodelling crew accomplished excellent results. The elimination of built-up layers of dirt exposed the initial bright blue tone behind Anne of Cleves, which originally seemed as a murky sea green. The British historian, broadcaster, and author Owen Emmerson studied a before and after compare in a video posted on his X account on March 13. Emmerson called the results “absolutely breathtaking”.


This includes a bejewelled gold cross necklace and a few gold rings. These diamonds appeared in close-up images in the museum’s March 12 Instagram post commemorating the painting’s delivery to room 811. Room 811 exhibits works by Dutch artists from the first half of the sixteenth century. This portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger notably cemented the deal on the marriage of the then 24-year-old Anne and the 48-year-old King Henry VIII.


The Anne of Cleves
Detail of Hans Holbein. Photo: © 2017 RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Tony Querrec.


Anne, born Anne von der Mark, was the second eldest daughter of Duke Johann III of Cleves—a Catholic monarchy in the Rhine. Since the age of 12, she had been betrothed in marriage to the Duke of Lorraine’s son. Following the death of Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, in 1537, the monarch searched for fresh brides throughout European courts.

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The King Was Disappointed by the Bride’s Appearance

Hans Holbein
Detail of Hans Holbein. Photo: © 2017 RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Tony Querrec.


The King engaged court painter Holbein the Younger to draw portraits of Anne and her younger sister Amalia, both recommended by the King’s senior minister, Thomas Cromwell. When Anne arrived in England, Henry felt let down by his new bride’s appearance. This comes in contrast to the idea given by Holbein’s image.


Cromwell informed the king about Anne’s beauty. He added that “every man praised the beauty of the same lady as well for the face as for the whole body”. But Henry wasn’t satisfied. Despite seemingly exclaiming, “I don’t like her!” I do not like her!” They married on January 6, 1540, after meeting for the first time. Six months and six days later, the couple’s marriage ended due to non-consummation.


The Louvre
the Musée du Louvre. Via Wikipedia.


Anne of Cleve’s marriage was the shortest of Henry’s six marriages. She spent the remainder of her life in court, where she earned the nickname as the “King’s Beloved Sister” and outlived Henry’s next two spouses. An updated photo of the painting has been added to the artwork’s listing on the Louvre collection website, but no further information on the restoration has been released by the museum.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.