Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens

20 June 2024 to 8 September 2024 National Portrait Gallery

NPG L246. Katherine of Aragon (c. 1520) by Unknown artist © National Portrait Gallery, London. By permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church Commissioners; on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London

First major exhibition to place its focus on the women who married the infamous Tudor king

Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens (20 June – 8 September 2024) examines the representation of Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr, both in their own time and in the centuries since they lived.

Presenting the queens in chronological order, Six Lives will be the first major exhibition of its kind to place the narrative focus on these extraordinary women, rather than their infamous husband. From historic paintings, miniatures, drawings and the queens’ personal possessions – including their own letters and books – to contemporary photography, costume and film, the exhibition will draw upon a wealth of factual and fictional material to place the spotlight on six women who helped to shape a fascinating period of English history.

With many portraits and objects reunited for the first time in centuries, visitors to Six Lives can expect to learn more about the family networks that brought each queen to court, their relationships with the king, their patronage and interests, as well as the ways in which they used portraiture to communicate their politics, religious beliefs, values, identity and status.

Important loans from private collections include a recently conserved historic painted panel of Katherine Parr, attributed to ‘Master John’, and a portrait of Anne of Cleves by Edgar Degas. Other notable historic items displayed  will include Katherine of Aragon’s writing box; Anne Boleyn’s inscribed book of hours, her signature deliberately erased; an illustrated bible commissioned by Thomas Cromwell after the death of Jane Seymour, publically displayed for the first time; Anne of Cleves’ account book of her expenses as queen; a portrait miniature, thought to depict Katherine Howard by Hans Holbein the Younger; and a prayer book written by Katherine Parr, bearing an inscription from Henry VIII to her, displayed in London for the first time.

Further Information: Six Lives - National Portrait Gallery (