Royal Armouries

Henry VIII (reigned1509-47)

Images

colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VIII

Carved wooden head of Henry VIII. English, about 1689-91 (XVII.1)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VIII

    Carved wooden head of Henry VIII. English, about 1689-91 (XVII.1)

  • Silvered and engraved armour of Henry VIII

  • colour photo of Henry VIII's fully encasing armour holding a wooden pole

    Armour of King Henry VIII. (II.6)

  • monochrome photo of armoured figures on foot and horseback

    Figure of Henry VIII in the New Horse Armoury, 1870s. © Private collection 2013

  • colour photo of Henry VIII's armour with decorated banding

    Armour of Henry VIII. English, Greenwich, 1540 (II.8)

Statistics

Object Provenance: English, about 1689-91
Object Number: XVII.1
Max. height: 38 cm ( 14.9 in)
Max. circumference: 56 cm (22 in)
Weight: 2.628 kg (5 lb 13 oz)

Henry VIII (reigned1509-47)

Description

Construction

Two part with added ‘cheeks’ (original & nailed on). Rather flat topped. It has a longitudinal crack extending from the crown of the head to chin on the left side of the face running alongside inner end of eye, beside the nose through the left corner of the mouth.

Type of Wood

Oak

Appearance

Only vestigial ear outline worked. Carved facial hair – moustache and ‘chops’ on either side of clean shaven tip of chin. Blue eyes, and coppery facial hair – emphatic darker brown eyebrows.

Helpfully engraved ‘HENRY VIII’ on the left side of the head running from behind ear through neck. The complexion shows signs of abrasion consistent with being forced into a closed helmet with the visor raised.

Paint Analysis

Five paint finishes, sanded down between paintings. The evidence suggests that the original flesh tone was a very pale pink. The subsequent four finishes appear much redder and darker than the first.

Wood Analysis

Rings on base scanned for a match.

References

ACN Borg Heads and Horses, 1976 p.325-7; plate LXXVIIa

Other Notes

Henry was shown in the early Line wearing the 1540 garniture and on horseback (II.8; VI.96-7)with visor raised, and the 18th century guidebooks noted his foot combat armour ‘rough from the hammer’ (II.6) among the curiosities surrounding the Line.
In the New Horse Armoury displays from 1826 to 1882 three of his other armours – the silver and engraved and two foot combat armours – were displayed together in a ‘recess’. The wooden head seems, from illustrations to have been used in the main line of figures – the other harnesses relying on keeping the visors on their closed helmets down.

Statistics

Object Provenance: English, about 1689-91
Object Number: XVII.1
Max. height: 38 cm ( 14.9 in)
Max. circumference: 56 cm (22 in)
Weight: 2.628 kg (5 lb 13 oz)

Related Objects

Henry VIII in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Silvered and engraved armour of Henry VIII The Silvered and engraved armour of Henry VIII. English, Greenwich, about 1515

Dates from 1515 | Object number: II.5, VI.1, VI.2, VI.3, VI.4, VI.5

Armour of King Henry VIII Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1539 | Object number: Formerly II.9

Foot combat armour of Henry VIII Click on the title link above to find out more.

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