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

Erasmus of Rotterdam

c. 1532
Oil on linden panel, 18 x 14 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Erasmus and Holbein were close friends who had become acquainted when both lived in Basel. It was there in 1523 that Holbein painted two important portraits of his friend, one of which is in the Musée du Louvre, Paris and the other is on loan from the Longford Castle collection in the National Gallery, London. The latter portrait served as the model for subsequent images, which were produced in three different versions: a half-length view of Erasmus holding o book, either open or closed; a half-length figure with overlapping hands, exemplified by the present painting; and a bust-length roundel of which the primary example is in the Kunstmuseum, Basel.

The second type, the most popular, inspired further copies, namely those from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder after 1535 and others by Georg Pencz dated 1536-37.

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