Hans Holbein the Elder

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Hans Holbein the Elder
Hans Holbein der Ältere
Holbein d AE.jpg
Hans Holbein

Died1524(1524-00-00) (aged 63–64)
Movement Late Gothic
Children Hans Holbein the Younger
Ambrosius Holbein
Relatives Sigmund Holbein (brother)

Hans Holbein the Elder ( UK: /ˈhɒlbn/ HOL-byne, [1] US: /ˈhlbn,ˈhɔːl-/ HOHL-byne, HAWL-; [2] [3] [4] German : Hans Holbein der Ältere; c.1460 – 1524) was a German painter. [5]



Holbein was born in free imperial city of Augsburg (Germany), and died in Issenheim, Alsace (now France). He belonged to a celebrated family of painters; his father was Michael Holbein; his brother was Sigmund Holbein (died 1540). He had two sons, both artists and printmakers: Ambrosius Holbein (c. 1494 – c. 1519) and Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497 – 1543), who both had their first painting lessons from their father.

The date of Holbein's birth is unknown. His name appears in the Augsburg tax books in 1494, superseding that of his father. As early as 1493, Holbein had a following, and he worked that year at the abbey at Weingarten, creating the wings of an altarpiece representing Joachim's Offering, the Nativity of the Virgin Mary's Presentation in the Temple, and the Presentation of Christ. Today they hang in separate panels in the cathedral of Augsburg.

Holbein painted richly colored religious works. His later paintings show how he pioneered and led the transformation of German art from the (Late) International Gothic to the Renaissance style. In addition to the altar paintings that are his principal works, he also designed church windows and woodcuts. The surviving prints that can be attributed to him are few and a new one has recently been added to the group, an Annunciation to the Virgin in the collection of the Universitätbibliothek in Erlangen. [6] He also made a number of portrait drawings that foreshadow the work of his famous son, Hans Holbein the Younger.

Holbein first appears at Augsburg, partnered with his brother Sigismund (who died in 1540 at Bern, Switzerland). Augsburg, at the time of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, cultivated art with a Flemish style, and felt the influence of the schools of Bruges and Brussels, even though it was near Italy, with close commercial connections to Venice. Sigismund was also a painter, but Hans had the lead of the partnership and signed all the works they produced.

In 1514 his sons left Augsburg and eventually both settled in Basel. [7] After 1516 Holbein was declared a tax defaulter in Augsburg, which forced him to accept commissions abroad. He had worked in Alsace in 1509, and he seemed to have maintained some contacts there. [7] At Issenheim in Alsace, where Matthias Grünewald was employed at the time, Holbein found patrons and was contracted to complete an altarpiece. His brother Sigismund and others sued him in Augsburg for unpaid debts. Pursued by Augsburg authorities, he fled Issenheim, abandoning his work and equipment, and went to Basel. He died two years later at an unknown location. After 1524 his name no longer appeared on the register of the Augsburg guild.

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Venus and Amor is painting by the so-called "Venus Painter" of Hans Holbein the Youngers workshop and is conserved in the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland. It was assumed for a long time to be painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, but research showed that this could not be possible. It was discovered that the painter had used a sort of a carbon paper with the contours of the already existing Laïs and used it to transfer those contours in reverse on the new portrait he was to paint of Venus. As the portrait of Laïs is dated with 1526, the year of Hans Holbeins departure from Basel, it is assumed that the work has been painted between 1526 and 1528, the years Holbein stayed in London. The painting depicts the Roman goddess of love, Venus, with her son Amor (Cupid) and the model is believed to be either Magdalena Offenburg or her daughter Dorothea. They are shown in front of a large hanging green curtain and behind a low parapet. Venus is depicted with an open gesture and sincere gaze. Cupid is seen climbing onto the parapet while holding love's arrow in his left hand. He has red-orange hair, rendered in the same colouring and tone of the rich cloth sleeves covering his mother's upper arms.

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<i>Grey Passion</i>

The Grey Passion is a series of paintings by Hans Holbein the Elder (1465-1524). Executed between 1494 and 1500, it comprises twelve panels illustrating the Passion of Christ; Holbein's monochrome palette is almost entirely grey. The paintings were purchased by the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Stuttgart State Art Gallery in Germany. The State Art Gallery acquired the altarpiece in 2003 for 12 million euros. The restoration of the artworks lasted three years and cost 450 thousand euros.

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<i>Double Portrait of Jakob Meyer zum Hasen and Dorothea Kannengießer</i> Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger

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  1. "Holbein, Hans". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. n.d. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  2. "Holbein". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt . Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  3. "Holbein". Collins English Dictionary . HarperCollins . Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. "Holbein". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  5. "Hans Holbein". Catholic Encyclopedia . Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  6. Guido Messling, ‘The Annunciation to the Virgin by Hans Holbein the Elder’, Print Quarterly, XXXVI, no.3 (September 2019), pp. 286–293.
  7. 1 2 Stein, Wilhelm (1929). Holbein der Jüngere. Berlin: Julius Bard Verlag. p. 14.