Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, 1532-33, National Portrait Gallery, London
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, 1532-33, National Portrait Gallery, London

Thomas Cromwell, the right-hand man of Cardinal Wolsey and then of Henry VIII, was notoriously ruthless in carrying out the king's policies. An admirer of Machiavelli, it was he who suggested to the king that he make himself head of the Church of England in order to facilitate his divorce fromCatherine of Aragon. He later conveyed Anne Boleyn to the Tower. This miniature of Cromwell is thought to be Holbein's first, and to have been painted during his second visit to England in 1532. The gold locket, of late eighteenth or early nineteenth century work, houses two miniatures back to back; the second, from Holbein's studio, is also of Thomas Cromwell and shows him with the Order of the Garter, c.1537.

Related pages