Art e-facts
Did you know . . .?
. . . Paul Cezanne painted more than 200 still-life compositions in his lifetime?

. . . the first pigments used in painting were ground from earth, minerals and organic matter?

Hans Holbein was born in Augsburg in Southern Germany. His father, Hans Holbein the elder was a gifted painter and a successful artist working in Augsburg. Holbein trained for a while in his father's studio with his brother Ambrosius. He then in 1514 went to Basel, Switzerland to train under the painter Hans Herbster. It was in Basel that Holbein came in touch with Desiderius Erasmus who was a scholar and the leading light in Basel's humanist circle.

In a short period of time Holbein became the foremost artist of the northern humanist movement. His most notable works of this time include three portraits of Erasmus, including one titled simply Erasmus which now hangs in the Louvre. We are an intimate observer in this delicately characterised likeness of the great humanist. Engaged in his task, which he appears to be enjoying, Erasmus is unaware of our presence. Erasmus greatly admired Holbein and by providing him with a letter of introduction, was instrumental in Holbein's introduction to Sir Thomas More in England. More was soon to be Lord Chancellor and it is believed that through More, Holbein was later introduced to Henry VIII. From More's circle Holbein attracted many sitters including the king's astronomer (Nicholas Kratzer, 1528) and the Archbishop of Canterbury (William Warham, 1527).

Holbein returned to Basel in 1528, but settled in Engand permanently four years later in 1532. In 1537 Holbein became court painter to Henry VIII, painting the King on a number of occasions as well as his wives, wives to be (Anne of Cleeves, 1539), advisors and other important personage at court.

In his last years Holbein painted less for the king, though he remained in favour. He died of the plague in 1543, leaving a no mention of property and several debts. The images of important figures in history he has left to the world, and his influence on the direction of English art has assured his place in history as a truly great portraitist..

Gowing, L. (1987) Paintings in the Louvre. New York, U.S.A.: Stewart, Tabor & Chang.
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Laclotte, M. and Cuzin, J-P. (1993) The Louvre: European Paintings. London: Scala Publications Ltd.

Piper, D. (1981). The Dictionary of Painting & Sculpture, Art & Artists, Painters & Sculptors, Terms & Techniques. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers.

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