Reference Entry

Holbein, Hans, the Younger

in Benezit Dictionary of Artists

ISBN: 9780199773787
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199899913 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00088821
Holbein, Hans, the Younger

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German, 16th century, male.

Active in Switzerland from 1514, then in England from 1531.

Born probably in 1497 or 1498, in Augsburg; died November 1543, in London.

Painter, draughtsman, engraver. Religious subjects, portraits. Murals.

Like his brother Ambrosius, Hans Holbein the Younger studied under his father Hans Holbein the Elder. He probably worked with him until 1514, when the family separated and the sons went to Basel and the father to Issenheim, where he died ten years later. The young men may have gone to Basel in the hope of finding work as draughtsmen and wood engravers in a town where there were so many printers: Adam Petri, Cratander, Wolff and Jean Froben. This hope was realised and the young Holbeins produced numerous drawings for title pages and illustrations, especially for Froben. In 1519, he became member of the Basel Guild and in 1524 he went to France to become painter for the court of Henry the VIII. The decision by Hans in 1519 to leave Basel, torn apart as it was by religious quarrels, may have been suggested by Erasmus, with whom he had made friends. When he set off on his travels to France and England, he certainly had with him letters of introduction to Sir Thomas More. He travelled down the Rhine, stopping in Antwerp to visit Quentin Matsys to whom Erasmus had also given him an introduction. According to Karel van Mander, More gave Holbein a warm welcome and had him stay with him in Chelsea. Some biographers dispute this. Holbein had married young and when he returned home to Basel he painted a portrait of his wife and their two children. His travels had brought him enough money to buy a house on the banks of the Rhine. His adoptive fellow citizens made him welcome and the city magistrates commissioned him to paint the two murals still lacking in the council chamber. But the political and economic situation in Basel had not improved and Hans set off once again for England. He then settled in London in 1531 not far from the headquarters of the German merchants. There is a tradition that he lived in one of the houses on London Bridge. He died in the plague which devastated London in 1543. A later date is sometimes given, but is incorrect. Hans the Younger's superiority over his elder brother seems to have been clear from the beginning of their time in Basel. His first known dated work, ...

Reference Entry.  3551 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Painting ; Prints and Printmaking ; 17th-Century Art ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Religious Art ; Christian Art

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