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Holbein the Younger, son of the painter Hans Holbein
the Elder, was both in education and career, a cosmopolitan. At the
early age of 16, after training by his father, he went travelling with
his brother Ambrosius
. He is first mentioned
in 1515 in Basel, where he entered the workshop of Hans Herbster. His first
public commissions were carried out in Lucerne in 1517. In 1519, Holbein
became a member of the painters’ guild in Basel, and in 1520 received a
citizenship of Basel. His artistic life may be divided into 4 periods.
He worked in Basel, Lucerne, and Zurich from 1515 to 1526. From 1526 to
1528 he was in London, but returned to Basel for the next four years. From
1532 he was again in London and died there of the plague in 1543.
Among works executed during his first period at Basel he was largely employed
by publishers to make designs of woodcuts, including illustrations of Luther's
Old and New Testaments (1522-1523). His most important woodcuts The
Dance of Death and the Old Testament Cuts, were not
issued till 1538.
Religious paintings form a significant part of the work Holbein produced
in Basel. From modest, private commissions in the period 1519-20 (e.g.
Man of Sorrows), through The Body
of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521), to a culmination both
in emotion and design in The Passion of Christ
From 1528, he concentrated solely on portrait painting. In London he executed
portraits of the German merchants of the Hanseatic League, e,g. Portrait
of Georg Gisze of Danzig (1532), Portrait
of Derich Born (1533), and soon came to the notice of Henry
VIII and members of his court. His observation of detail, psychological
penetration of his sitters and superb handling of color made him the greatest
portrait painter of German art.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow.
Holbein. by A. Nemilov. Moscow-Leningrad. 1962.
Holbein and Henry VIII. by R. Strong. London. 1967.
and England by Susan Foister. Paul Mellon Center BA, 2005.
Centuries of British Painting: From Holbein to Hodgkin by Andrew
Wilton. Thames & Hudson, 2002.
Holbein the Younger: Painter at the Court of Henry VIII by
Stephanie Buck, Jochen Sander. Thames & Hudson, 2004.
Holbein: Paintings, Prints, and Reception by Mark Roskill,
John Oliver Hand. NGW-Stud Hist Art, 2001.
"Ambassadors" : Making and Meaning by Susan Foister, Ashok
Roy, Martin Wyld. National Gallery London, 1998.
VIII Revealed: Holbein's Portrait and Its Legacy by Xanthe
Brooke, David Crombie. Paul Holberton Publishing, 2003.