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Description

A portrait of Anne of Cleves comes to life in a gallery and she talks to the night time security guard about her life. In May 1539, the painter Hans Holbein was instructed by Thomas Cromwell to paint Henry VIII, not as he really was, but as a handsome, eligible bachelor in order to get Henry married. Many portraits were painted of potential brides for Henry to choose from. Henry was pleased with the selection, but it was well known that Henry had divorced his first wife, beheaded the second and that his third had died. No one wanted to marry him. Holbein was dispatched to Germany to paint the portrait of the sister of a German Duke. Henry wanted a beautiful wife and Anne's portrait was indeed very beautiful and she had agreed to marry Henry. Anne of Cleves was shipped off to England and a royal wedding was prepared. However, the portrait of Anne was more beautiful than she was in real life. Henry was not pleased with Holbein or Thomas Cromwell. Henry later divorced Anne and she was paid handsomely. Anne could not return to Germany because a divorce would have been regarded as an embarrassment for her family, so she stayed on in England.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
28 September 2007

Classroom Ideas

When learning about the Tudors, this clip helps tell history from the perspective of Anne of Cleves. Could be used to spark pupils' creation of a caricature, either written or drawn with labels, of Henry VIII. This would allow pupils to think both about his physicality and character.
It would be great to support and stimulate cross-curricular learning such as characterisation in written English and in drama. Good links could be made between art and historical portraits and what they can tell us about history.

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