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

The Humiliation of the Emperor Valerian by the Persian King Sapor

c. 1521
Pen and black ink on chalk sketch, gray wash and watercolour, 285 x 268 mm
Kupferstichkabinett, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

Finalized in 1521, the program of murals for the Great Council Chamber of Basel Town Hall consisted of the Virtues and scenes from antiquity. A scene intended to remind councilors not to misuse their power shows the humiliation of Valerian. This Roman emperor was shamefully treated by the victorious king of the Persians, Sapor, who, after his victory at Edessa, used the emperor as a stool to mount his horse. As it was a scene rarely illustrated, Holbein provided the names of the main characters as inscriptions.

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