HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
(b. 1497, Augsburg, d. 1543, London)

Portrait of Benedikt von Hertenstein

1517
Paper, mounted on wood, 52,4 x 38,1 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The German inscription on the wall proclaims that the sitter is 22 and looks exactly like his portrait. This is said in direct speech, as if Benedikt von Hertenstein, who turns and looks directly at the viewer, were himself speaking. The reference is to the astounding verisimilitude of the portrait, a theme that can be traced back to antiquity. Holbein also adds succinctly, in Latin, that he painted the portrait in 1517.