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

Design for a Pendant

Pen and ink with watercolour, 37,3 x 14,3 cm
British Museum, London

The mixture of abstract and natural design here (in the diagonal sprigs of leaves and uncurling fern-like stems) is an effective compromise between native English taste and that of imported mannerism, with its liking for grotesquerie and distortion. The harmonic regularity of the design is far less flamboyant than its contemporary Italian or French equivalents and symmetry was to maintain its sway over English design throughout the century.

Such pendants dangled from necklaces, over the upper chest and did not differ greatly in design from such features as the Garter and other badges of office.

Here, Holbein has completed the notation of the jewels; in other designs, such as the `parade dagger', he was content to leave areas blank for professional colourists to fill in.

It is thought the design may have been commissioned as one of many pieces Holbein provided for Anne Boleyn in her hey-day from 1533 to 1536.

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