Hans Holbein the Younger

1497/8 - 1543
Holbein, Hans the Younger
Detail from Hans Holbein the Younger, 'Self Portrait', about 1542-3
Florence, Uffizi
© Photo Scala, Florence

Holbein was one of the most accomplished portraitists of the 16th century. He spent two periods of his life in England (1526-8 and 1532-43), portraying the nobility of the Tudor court. Holbein's famous portrait of Henry VIII (London, National Portrait Gallery) dates from the second of these periods. 'The Ambassadors', also from this period, depicts two visitors to the court of Henry VIII. 'Christina of Denmark' is a portrait of a potential wife for the king.


Holbein was born in Augsburg in southern Germany in the winter of 1497-8. He was taught by his father, Hans Holbein the Elder. He became a member of the Basel artists' guild in 1519. He travelled a great deal, and is recorded in Lucerne, northern Italy and France. In these years he produced woodcuts and fresco designs as well as panel paintings. With the spread of the Reformation in Northern Europe the demand for religious images declined and artists sought alternative work. Holbein first travelled to England in 1526 with a recommendation to Thomas More from the scholar Erasmus. In 1532 he settled in England, dying of the plague in London in 1543.

Holbein was a highly versatile and technically accomplished artist who worked in different media. He also designed jewellery and metalwork.

Related paintings

A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (Anne Lovell?)
Hans Holbein the Younger
about 1526-8
A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (Anne Lovell?)
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan
Hans Holbein the Younger
1538
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan
Erasmus
Hans Holbein the Younger
1523
Erasmus
The Ambassadors
Hans Holbein the Younger
1533
The Ambassadors
 
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