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Key facts
Full title Erasmus
Artist Hans Holbein the Younger
Artist dates 1497/8 - 1543
Date made 1523
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 73.6 × 51.4 cm
Inscription summary Dated
Acquisition credit On loan from Longford Castle collection
Inventory number L658
Location Room 2
Art route(s) C
Image copyright On loan from Longford Castle collection, © Longford Castle Collection
Collection Main Collection
Hans Holbein the Younger

Erasmus (1466/9 - 1536) was one of the most famous writers of his day and one of the most admired humanist scholars. In this portrait the artist has tried to surround the sitter with items which reflect his interests and profession. This idea was developed further in Holbein's 'The Ambassadors'. A Latin couplet on the book on the back shelf, perhaps by Erasmus himself, praises Holbein's skill: 'I am Johannes (i.e. Hans) Holbein, whom it is easier to denigrate than to emulate.'

This painting is not available for reproduction

Personal response: David Starkey
Historian David Starkey discusses realism and personality in 'Erasmus' - 5 mins 27 secs

From The National Gallery Podcast: Episode Forty Eight, October 2010

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