On 12 November 1549, the 12-year-old Edward VI, newly liberated from the tutelage of his overweening uncle, Lord Protector Somerset, was at last able to enter his father Henry VIII’s private apartments in the Palace of Whitehall. From the extraordinary mixture of treasures and bric-à-brac he found there, he chose one thing: ‘a book of patterns of physiognomies’ by his father’s court painter, Hans Holbein, who had died in 1543.
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