HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
(b. 1497, Augsburg, d. 1543, London)
Portrait of a Member of the Wedigh Family1532
Oil and gold on oak panel, 41 x 31 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Hans Holbein was a true Renaissance man. Equally at home in Basel and London, he was a friend of the great humanists of his day and produced works ranging from paintings to book illustration to designs for stained glass.
This picture demonstrates why Holbein is regarded as one of the world's greatest portraitists. The clarity of colour, the precision of drawing, and the crisp, explicit characterization constitute a compelling likeness of an individual person. The sitter is a member of a Cologne trading family; presumably he was their representative in England, where Holbein found many clients among a wealthy community of German merchants who belonged to the Hanseatic League.