Painter/Artist: Hans Holbein

German School. Son of Hans Holbein the elder (c. 1470-1524). Worked in England from 1528 to 1530, and from 1532 till his death.


THE AMBASSADORS. Full-length portraits of Jean de Dinteville, Lord of Polisy, on the left, three-quarters to right, and George de Selve, Bishop of Lavour, on the right, three-quarters to left. Behind them a green damask curtain. Between them a high stand covered with an Oriental rug, on which are various scientific instruments. Below, on a wooden stool, a lute, a case of flutes, a music book, and other things. Jean de Dinteville wears a black dress with a white fur lining to his cloak, and a heavy gold chain with the badge of the French Order of St. Michel; at his right side is a dagger with an inscription on the sheath. “AEt. suae 29.” George de Selve, with a short beard, leans on a book on which is inscribed, “AEt. sum- 25.” He wears a four-cornered black cap and a loose, long-sleeved gown of mulberry and black brocade lined with sable. Across the marble floor is a distorted image of a human skull.

Signed and dated 1533.

Purchased from the Raduor Collection, 1891.

CHRISTINA, DUCHESS OF MILAN Christina of Denmark, widow of the Duke of Milan, a young woman, stands full length, facing us, her hands together, holding her gloves. She wears a black satin dress with ruffles, and a rich black silk pelisse lined with brown fur. A black widow’s cap covers her hair. Plain dark blue background, on which is painted a cartellino fixed with sealing-wax. Painted at Brussels in 1538.

Originally in the Royal Collection, and later in the Lumley, Pembroke, and Arundel Collections. Purchased from the Duke of Norfolk for L60,000 in 1909.

NICHOLAS KRATZER Astronomer to Henry VIII. Half length, at a table on which he rests his left hand with a pair of calipers in it, while in his right he grasps a polyhedron. Various other instruments are strewn on the table, and others hang on a nail on the plain wall behind him. He wears a black tunic and cap, and a brown mantle. His head and glance are turned slightly to our right. On the left, upon a scrap of paper, is a Latin inscription and the date 1528.

ARCHBISHOP WARHAM Half length, slightly to left, an old man with wrinkled face, his hands resting on a cushion in front of him. In a white surplice trimmed with broad bands of fur, and black cap covering his ears. Behind him on the left his crozier, and on the right his mitre.

In the background, on a scrap of paper, is the inscription: “Anno Dm. MDXXVII. Etatis sue LXX.”

ERASMUS Bust length, in profile to left, in black mantle and cap, both hands resting on a sheet of paper, on which he is writing. Background a curtain.

ANNE OF CLEVES Three-quarter length, standing full face, her hands joined at her waist. On her head is a Tudor bonnet of gold brocade richly jewelled. Her dress, which is richly ornamented, is of red velvet, with long full sleeves. Painted in 1539.


THE MEYER MADONNA Painted at Basle in 1526 for the Burgomaster Jacob Meyer. The Virgin crowned, with her hair falling over her shoulders, in a long plain robe and mantle, stands in a niche holding the naked Child to her bosom. On her left kneel Meyer with his elder boy, who supports the standing nude figures and his infant brother. On her right kneel Frau Meyer and two daughters.

A replica, or more probably a copy, of this picture is in the Dresden Gallery.


SIR THOMAS GODSALVE AND HIS SON Half lengths, looking to right, behind a table. Sir Thomas on the right, clean shaven, in flat black cap and black gown lined with fur, writing on a piece of paper. His son slightly behind him, bareheaded. Dated, on a cartellino above the head of the latter, 1528.

LE SIEUR DE MORETTE Three-quarter length, standing full face, a glove in his right hand and a dagger in his left. An elderly man with a square beard, flat cap, fur-lined gown with slashed sleeves, and a long gold chain hanging round the neck. Curtain background,

GEORGE GISZE BERLIN A young Danish merchant seated at a table in a corner of his office in London. The green panelled walls and the table are covered with the knick-knacks of his everyday use.

Inscribed (with some Latin verses) “Anno aetatis suae XXXIIII. anno dom. 1532.”


SIR BRIAN TUKE Half length, slightly to left, the right arm and hand resting on the edge of a table. A man of late middle age, clean shaven, in a black hat, black silk gown, with broad fur collar and short sleeves, the sleeve of the undergarment being of a small bright check. A cross hangs on the breast from a heavy gold chain over the shoulders. The left hand is close to the right, and beside them is an hour-glass and a sheet of folded paper with a Latin inscription. In the plain dark background is seen a figure of death (probably an addition by a later hand), whose bony hand points to the hour-glass.