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

Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap

Oil and gold on parchment attached to wood, diameter 10 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Starting in the 1530s and continuing into the early 1540s, Holbein made a number of small, round bust-length portraits of various sitters, including potential wives for Henry VIII, members of the royal household, and servants to the king. Some were painted in oil on wood, others in bodycolour on vellum as miniatures.

The sitter of the present portrait, showing a young, clean-shaven man against a monochrome blue background, is not identified, but he was certainly an official at the court of Henry VIII. It is possible that the portrait had a protective lid of painted wood, since such intimate portrait capsules were easily portable as well as more affordable than larger-scale likenesses.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.