Hans Holbein the Younger

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Sir Thomas More 1527

Sir Thomas More 1527

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Hans Holbein the Younger- The European Portrait master


Known as one of the famous and prolific portrait painters of 16th century Europe, Hans Holbein the Younger was a German artist. He mastered the Northern Renaissance style and experimented with a versatile range of subjects. For example, his works range from satire to portraits to religious art. He also took up the creative area of Reformation Propaganda in his active art career. His father, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic School, also went by the name Hans Holbein.

Early Life

He was born in 1497 in Ausburg into a painter family. His father and brothers were painters and draughtsmen. His family owned an art workshop in Ausburg, and Hans Holbein the Younger spent his early years observing his father and brother. However, his independent work as a young artist was based in Basel. He and his brother Ambrosius moved to Basel in 1515, where they apprenticed with Hans Herbster.

The early works of Holbein the Younger were a series of pen drawings created on the margin of The Praise of Folly. He also painted a portrait of Basel’s mayor Jakob Mayer Zum Hasen with his wife. From 1517 till 1520, Hans Holbein the Younger also painted murals and stained glass paintings in collaboration with his father, Hans Holbein, the Elder.

Famous Artworks

Hans Holbein the Younger worked for most of his early career in Basel, where he created many notable works. For example, he painted the external murals for the House of Dance. He also illustrated for Johann Froben, a renowned publisher. He also illustrated the Old Testaments and the title page of Martin Luther’s bible.

The portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam was painted by him in 1523. He also painted the portrait of Amerbach, which is an example of his superior style of portrait making. In 1527, he painted the portrait of Sir Thomas More in oil painting. Another famous work of Holbein was the Artist’s Family, painted in 1528.

Final Years and Death

The most famous subjects of Holbein’s painting were the Tudor King Henry VIII and his Queen Anne Boleyn. None of his paintings of Queen Anne survive to date. Holbein also went on to paint Anne of Cleves, another queen of England and King Henry VIII’s wives. He died in late 1543 of an unknown infection that may have been a plague.