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

Studies of the Hands of Erasmus of Rotterdam

c. 1523
Silverpoint, ruddle, and black chalks on white coated paper, 206 x 153 mm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Holbein's only known drawing of hand studies was executed as preparation for the Erasmus portraits. The artist shows the left hand in two slightly differing views, though the one at the top of the sheet was not completed, possibly because it was rejected. The lower one, worked out in great detail in silverpoint, supplied the model for corresponding hand of the Erasmus portrait in the Radnor Collectio. The right hand, which is shown holding a pen, is only quickly sketched in black chalk. It is clearly the writing hand of the Paris and Basel versions, though the viewpoint was changed in the paintings.

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