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

The Ambassadors (detail)

Oil on oak
National Gallery, London

Whereas the astronomical globe on the upper shelf helps to identify the stars, the lower globe shows the Earth. In the centre, the word Polisy can be made out, the place where Jean de Dinteville had his château, for which the picture was intended. Besides this are two opened books, plus dividers, a lute with a broken string, and a bag with wooden flutes. The arithmetical book has been identified as Peter Apian's (1495-1552) book Eyn Newe unnd wohlgegründte underweysung aller Kauffmanss Rechnung (A new and thorough instruction in all mercantile calculations), published 1527, while the hymnal contains two songs from Johannes Walther's (1496-1570) Lutheran hymnal published in Wittenberg in 1524.

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