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Painted in 1537, the portrait of Henry VIII (1491-1547) by the Swiss-German artist Hans Holbein the Younger is, as the video essayist Evan Puschak (aka the Nerdwriter) puts it in this short, ‘arguably the most famous portrait of royalty ever painted’. It’s also ‘a lie’, portraying the infamous English monarch as imposing, commanding and virile in a moment when both his physical and political power was in decline, and his lack of a male heir was considered a major liability. Centring his analysis on the most protrudent codpiece the English king sports in the painting, Puschak makes the case that, although very few people ever saw the piece during Henry VIII’s life, it’s a masterful work of political propaganda which still shades how he’s viewed today.
Video by The Nerdwriter
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