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

Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam Writing

1523
Paper mounted on pine, 37 x 31 cm
Kunstmuseum, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

Born in Rotterdam in Holland in 1469, Erasmus entered the monastery of Steyn as an 18-year-old and was ordained in 1492. Following extensive studies in Paris, he became a Doctor of Theology in 1506. In Holbein's portrait, the 54-year-old Erasmus is shown wearing not a monk's cowl but the black robes of a scholar: in 1517 Pope Leo X had granted him the special privilege of not wearing monastic garments.

In the Web Gallery of Art you can view several portraits of Erasmus by Renaissance painters, such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Albrecht Dürer and Quentin Massys.