Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Holbein, Hans, the Younger (1497-1543), a celebrated German painter, was born at Augsburg, probably in 1497. His father, Hans Holbein the Elder (d. 1524), an excellent portrait-painter, is now believed to have executed many works which were formerly attributed to his son. Chief among these is the altar-piece of St. Sebastian at Munich, with a picture of the Annunciation on one wing and graceful figures of St. Barbara and St. Elizabeth on the other, surrounded by Renaissance ornament. In early life the younger Hans was much influenced by his predecessors in the new school which was growing up in Swabia and found its centre at Augsburg, especially by Martin Schongauer (d. 1488) and Hans Burckmaer (d. 1531). He appears to have first visited Basel in 1516, but he did not take up his residence there permanently till 1520. The earliest works which are undoubtedly his include a painting on a table at Zurich, representing the devastation in the shape of household breakages worked by "St. Nobody" (1515); portraits of Jacob Meyer, burgomaster of Basel, and his second wife (1516); and the humorous pen-and-ink designs for Erasmus's Praise of Folly, now in the Basel Museum. The fine portrait of Bonifacius Amerbach was produced in 1519. After his return to Basel he found occupation in wall-painting, designing for glass, and illustrating books. A water-colour sketch of the famous Peasant's Dance, one of the wall paintings on a house in the Eisengasse, is preserved in the Basel collection. His series of historical paintings and emblematical figures for the Town Hall was probably discontinued owing to the disturbances caused by the Peasants' War. Between 1515 and 1528 he executed numerous title-pages, ornamental alphabets, and other designs for various Basel printers, besides illustrating several editions of Luther's New Testament (1522-23). To the same period belong also the wonderfully graphic series of allegorical woodcuts called the Dance of Death - the most perfect specimens of his skill in the treatment of ideal themes - and the similar series representing scenes from Old Testament history, which are no less remarkable for their realistic vigour. These designs were engraved by Hans Lutzelburger. His most important religious pictures are the Solothurn Madonna (1522), probably painted for the cathedral of Solothurn, and the Meyer Madonna, in which the burgomaster and his family are represented in adoration before the Virgin and infant Christ. Two portraits of Erasmus belong to the year 1523. Late in 1526, or early in 1527, he came to England, and appears to have remained in this country for about eighteen months. From Erasmus he received an introduction to Sir Thomas More, in whose house he seems to have spent the greater part, if not the whole, of his time. He now began the series of portraits of English celebrities which perhaps constitute his chief title to fame. The oil-paintings of this period include those of Archbishop Warham; Nicholas Kratzer, the royal astronomer; Sir Henry Guildford, Master of the Horse; and the Family of Sir Thomas More, the original sketch for which is preserved in the Basel Museum. During his residence in Basel from 1528 to 1531 he produced a picture of his own family (1529) and two portraits of Erasmus - one a painting, the other a woodcut (1530) - and completed the decoration of the Town Hall by adding paintings representing the colloquy between Rehoboam and the Israelites and the meeting of Samuel and Saul. After his return to England in 1531 he was much employed by the Hanseatic League, and painted several portraits of the Steelyard merchants, one of which - that of Jorg Gyze - has been warmly praised by Mr. Ruskin. The allegorical pictures the Triumph of Riches and the Triumph of Poverty were painted for the Steelyard on the occasion of Henry VIII.'s marr'age to Anne Boleyn (1533). To the same year belongs the painting at Longford Castle called the Scholars, the figures in which are said to be Sir Thomas Wyatt and John Leland. After his entrance into the king's service in 1536, Holbein painted a cartoon in fresco with figures of Henry V11I., Jane Seymour, Henry VII., and Elizabeth of York, and a beautiful half-length portrait of Jane Seymour, now in the Belvedere in Vienna. He was twice sent abroad by the king to paint portraits of ladies whom he proposed to marry, and his pictures of Christina of Denmark (1538) and Anne of C

leves (1539) rank amongst his choicest works. Of his numerous other portraits mention must be made of those of Hubert Morett, the goldsmith, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and of the picture entitled The Ambassadors, recently acquired by the National Gallery. Many of these portraits, or of the sketches for them, are preserved in the royal collection at Windsor. Holbein's death, which was caused by the plague, is now ascertained to have taken place in 1513.