Hans Holbein the Younger

[Hans Holbein the Younger] Renaissance painter, son of Hans Holbein the Elder, born Augsburg, Germany, c.1497; died London, England, 1543. He was the pupil of his father. Going to Basel in 1514, with his brother Ambrose, they first did illustrations for the printers there but were soon engaged on religious paintings and portraits, Hans showing early the extraordinary skill that made him one of the world's greatest portrait painters. He became the friend of Erasmus and executed several portraits of him, among them the well-known one in the Louvre. In 1526 he completed his most beautiful religious picture, the "Madonna of the Burgomaster Meier," now in the Darmstadt Gallery. The same year he went to London with letters from Erasmus to Sir Thomas More. Several portraits of the latter and his family exist now only in sketches and it is doubted that the familiar portrait of the Louvre represents More. After a brief sojourn in Basel Holbein returned to London, 1531, and increased his fame by works executed for the Steelyard colony of the German Hanseatic League, among them the "Portrait of George Gisze," of the Berlin Gallery. In 1536 he was named a royal painter by Henry VIII. His representations of that monarch are among his best-known works. His portrait of Anne of Cleves is now in the Louvre, and his reputed masterpiece of portraiture, "The Duchess of Milan," of the National Gallery, was done when she was a princess of Denmark and a prospective candidate for Henry's hand. The woodcuts of the so-called "Dance of Death," were published in 1538. They give Holbein his rank with Dürer as one of the greatest draughtsmen in the history of art. Holbein's life was cut short by the plague. Among his many superb portraits are those of "Robert Cheseman, the King's Falconer," at the Hague, "The Ambassadors," in the National Gallery in London, and the "Sieur de Morette" in Dresden. In Windsor Castle is a most valuable collection of his drawings.

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