HOLBEIN, Hans the Elder
(b. 1460/65, Augsburg, d. 1524, Isenheim)

Portrait of a Woman

Oil on panel, 24 x 17 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

The two panels in the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, representing the portraits of a man and a woman, reveal the artist's interest in depicting the physical characteristics of his sitters, both of whom have rather pronounced features. Art historians have generally assumed the portraits to form a pair, possibly showing a husband and wife. However, it is odd that they are depicted in different formats and poses, with the woman in profile and the man in less than full profile, his body slightly turned. It would be more usual for them to be painted looking at each other in symmetrical poses.