Hans Holbein the Younger painted in the Northern Renaissance style and was, arguably the most realistic and accomplished portrait painter from the North.
He started in his father's (Hans Holbein the Elder) shop; by 1, he and his brother were in Basle working for a local painter. He was soon working for publishers, and it is probaly through one of these contacts, Froben, that he met the Dutch humanist and theologian Erasmus (c.1466-1536)around 1515/16.
His early works revelaed his gift for characterization and realism.
In 1517, he left Basle, returning two years later after the death of his brother. He married and became a citizen in 1520. He worked on and off on a commission to paint the Council Chamber from 1521 to 1530; he also illustrated the Luther bible and published Dance of Death (1523/4), and the Alphabet of Death (1524).
Successful as he was, it was not until he completed three portraits of Eramus in 1523 that his international reputation as a portraitist soared. The Reformation made it difficult for Holbein to support himself as an artist in Basel though, and, three years later, he left Basle and travelled to London, armed with introductions from Eramus to Archbishop Wareham and Sir Thomas More. He spent eighteen months there, and painted the large group of the More family.
Thereafter, he returned to Basle but, in 1532, went back to England. More was now in disfavour and for the next four years he worked mainly for the Merchants of the Steelyard. He also entered Royal service and his work for Henry VIII included Henry with his Queen, Jane Seymour, and Henry VIII and Elizabeth of York . Henry also employed Holbein as a goldsmith's designer and on painted and architectural decorations. He was also employed to go abroad and paint prospective brides for the King.
Holbein died of plague while working on another portrait of Henry.
- Early portraits include Burgomaster Meyer and his Wife (1516), and Bonifacius Amerbach (1519, Basle)
- Early religious works include Dead Christ (1521, Basle) and Solothurn Madonna (1522, Solothurn)
- Prospective bride paintings for King Henry VIII included The Duchess of Milan (1538, National Gallery, London), and Anne of Cleves (1539/40, Paris, Louvre)
- His brother was called Ambrosius Holbein
- None of his decorations or goldsmith's work in England has survived
- His large decorative works were influenced by the Milanese style
- Boston (Mus. and Gardner)
- Cleveland Ohio
- Florence (Uffizi)
- Frankfurt (Stadel)
- Freiburg im Breisgau (Cathedral)
- The Hague
- London (NG, National Portrait Gallery, V & A, Wallace Coll., Guildhall)
- Los Angeles
- New York (Met. Mus., Frink Coll.)
- Paris (Louvre)
- Philadelphia (Johnson)
- Rome (Gall. Naz.)
- St Louis
- Toledo Ohio
- Washington (NG)
- Windsor (85 drawings for portraits in the Royal Collection)
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Portrait of Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Hans Holbein the Younger
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