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Entries in High Renaissance. (1)


Hans Holbein the Younger: Precise Rendering and Compelling Realism

Hans Holbein the Younger - The Artist's Family - 1528 - Oil on paper mounted on wood, 77x64 cm - Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel (click photo for larger image)Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497 – c. 1543) was a German painter, draftsman, and designer renowned for the precise rendering of his drawings and the compelling realism of his portraits, particularly those recording the court of King Henry VIII of England. 

Holbein dated this family portrait, which is painted on paper, in the bottom right-hand corner, but the last digit was lost when the figures were cut out round the outline later in the 16th century and subsequently stuck on a black-painted panel. Several considerations strongly suggest the portrait must date from 1528, shortly after Holbein's return from England: his son Philipp, born around 1522, is about six in the picture, and his daughter Katharina is hardly more than two; moreover, his children Jakob and Küngold, born around 1529 and 1530 respectively, are not present. The moving combination of resolution and frailty seen in this family portrait is unique in Holbein's production. The introverted mood of the work extends beyond the usual level of reticence in his English portraits.