Gallery of prints for sale

Sunday 5 July 2020

Jacob Houbraken’s etching, “Ann of Cleves Queen of Henry VIII”, 1739

Jacob Houbraken (aka Jacobus Houbraken) (1698–1780)

“Ann of Cleves Queen of Henry VIII”, 1739, from the series, “Birch's Heads” (aka “The Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, Engraved by Mr Houbraken and Mr Vertue, with their Lives and Characters by Thomas Birch, AM, FRS”), after Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8–1543), published in 1740 (as inscribed on plate) by John Knapton (fl.1735–1789) and his brother Paul Knapton (1703–1755) in London.

The Curator of the British Museum offers the following insights regarding the publication of the series featuring this print:
“Initially issued in portfolios of four portraits from 1737 onwards, the portraits were subsequently published in Thomas Birch's compilation of biographies 'The Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, Engraved by Mr. Houbraken and Mr. Vertue, with their Lives and Characters by Thomas Birch, A.M.F.R.S.', published by John and Paul Knapton in London (1743–1752). The number of portraits included varied according to the different editions, mostly containing 108 plates but some editions up to 120 plates (each measuring roughly 360 x 225 mm).
Most plates were engraved by Houbraken and at least seven were made by Vertue. Hubert-François Gravelot was responsible for the ornamental surrounds which were engraved first” (

Etching and engraving on laid paper trimmed along the image borderline on the top and sides and retaining the lettered publications details below the borderline, backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 37.5 x 23 cm; (image borderline) 36.5 x 22.9 cm.
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (cartouche) “ANN OF CLEUES QUEEN OF K HENRY VIII.”
Lettered below the image borderline: (left) “Holben pinxit.”; (left of centre) “In the Collection of Thomas Barret Esqr.”; (right of centre) Impensis J. & P. Knapton Londini 1740.”; (right) J. Houbraken Sculps. Amst. 1739.”
State ii (of ii) with the addition of publication details.

Ver Huell 12 (Alexander Ver Huell 1875, “Jacobus Houbraken et Son Oeuvre”, Arnhem, P Gouda Quint, cat. no. 12);  O'Donoghue 3 (Freeman O'Donoghue 1908–25, “Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum”, 6 vols., London, cat. no. 3).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Portrait of Anne of Cleves, bust in frontal view, wearing a jewelled dress; in oval border with cartouche and putto pointing at a crown below; state with publisher's address; after Hans Holbein the Younger. 1739 (published 1740)”

Condition: well-printed, near faultless impression, trimmed along the image borderline, but retaining the publication details below the borderline, and laid onto a support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this remarkable portrait of Anne of Cleves (aka Anna von Kleve) (1515–1557)— the fourth wife of King Henry VIII from 6 January to 9 July 1540—set in an elaborate frame that was possibly engraved by Hubert-François Gravelot (aka Hubert-François Bourguignon) (1699–1773) before Jacob Houbraken engraved the portrait of the Queen, for AU$254 (currently US$176.38/EUR156.82/GBP141.27 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this serene portrait enlivened by an cartouche frame in the Baroque auricular style—a style described perfectly by Harold Osborne (1975) as “undulating, slithery and boneless forms [that] occasionally carry a suggestion of the inside of an ear or a conch shell” (The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts)—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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