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Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens

20 June 2024 to 8 September 2024 National Portrait Gallery

A historical portrait of a woman with pale skin and blonde hair, styled in an intricate updo adorned with pearls and gold. She wears a black dress with detailed embroidered patterns and jeweled accessories, including a necklace with a prominent red gemstone.

Tudor paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger and contemporary photography by Hiroshi Sugimoto meet in the National Portrait Gallery’s first exhibition of historic portraiture since reopening, presenting a study of the lives and afterlives of the six women who married Henry VIII.

Six Lives will chronicle the representation of Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr throughout history and popular culture in the centuries since they lived. As a frequent source of fascination, the stories of the six women has repeatedly inspired writers and artists of all kinds to attempt to uncover the ‘truth’ of their lives: their characters, their appearance and their relationships. From historic paintings, drawings and ephemera, to contemporary photography, costume and film, the exhibition draws upon a wealth of factual and fictional materials to present the life, legacy and portrayal of six women who forever changed the landscape of English history.