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

The initial E in the manuscript of Canones horoptri by Nikolaus Kratzer

c. 1528
Tempera on parchment, 238 x 168 mm
Bodleian Library, Oxford

The text provides an introduction for the use of the "horoptrum," an instrument invented by Kratzer that could be used, among other things, to calculate the times of sunrise and sunset. The manuscript, written by the Fleming Peter Meghen, was illuminated with initials by Holbein. The shaft of the letter E is to be taken as a sculptured candelabra crowned by the head of a cherub. The bars terminate in foliate masks or bright red pistils. The subtlety of the pattern, its delicate modeling, and the exquisite colorings prove that Holbein had already completely mastered the techniques of miniature painting by 1528.




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