Hans Holbein Fact 1: Date and Place of Birth – Hans Holbein the Younger was born in 1497 in Augsburg, Germany. His exact birthday is unknown due to the lack of birth records of the era.
Hans Holbein Fact 2: Family – His father was Hans Holbein the Elder, a painter and draughtsman and his uncle was the artist Sigmund Holbein. Hans followed in his father’s footsteps. One of Holbein’s brothers, Ambrosius, also became a painter but he died an early death in 1519.
Hans Holbein Fact 3: The Holbein brothers no doubt first studied with their father in Augsburg; they both also began independent work about 1515 in Basel, Switzerland.
Hans Holbein Fact 4: Hans Holbein the Younger became famous as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century, also producing religious art, satire and Reformation propaganda. His most famous patrons were Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn, Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More
Hans Holbein Fact 5: His early work consisted of murals and religious pieces. He also designed stained glass windows as well as images for printed books. In time, with his position in the English Royal court, he would also be called upon to design plate, jewelry and other precious objects.
Hans Holbein Fact 6: Hans Holbein the Younger entered the painters’ corporation in 1519. In the same year he married a tanner’s widow.
Hans Holbein Fact 7: His fame and talent as an artist spread and he received various commissions for portraits. A famous early portrait painted by Hans Holbein in 1519 was of the humanist scholar Bonifacius Amerbach.
Hans Holbein Fact 8: He became a burgher of Basel in 1520 and worked on important mural decorations in the Great Council Chamber of Basel’s town hall in 1521 and the painting of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521).
Hans Holbein Fact 9: Bonifacius Amerbach was a friend of the great humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus and introduced the artist to this influential and powerful man. Hans Holbein painted his first major portrait of Desiderius Erasmus in 1523.
Hans Holbein Fact 10: The turbulence of the Reformation era led to censorship of the press and the arts and, with a letter of introduction from Erasmus, Hans Holbein the Younger left Basel for England.
Hans Holbein Fact 11: The great English statesman and humanist Thomas More became an important patron of the German artist and commissioned Hans Holbein to paint his portrait in 1527 and a life-size group portrait of More’s family.
Hans Holbein Fact 12: Hans Holbein the Younger returned to Basel from 1528 to 1532 where he continued his important work for the town council and was admitted to the new and official Protestant faith.
Hans Holbein Fact 13: He returned to England and by 1533 Hans Holbein was already painting nobles and important members of the English court. His reputation as a brilliant artist grew and in 1537 he officially entered the service of King Henry VIII of England.
Hans Holbein Fact 14: Holbein's role of official court painter extended from that of a portraitist but also a fashion designer. Hans Holbein the Younger made designs and drawings for all the state robes of the king and important nobles. He also organized pageants, masques, tournaments, court uniforms and even the horse outfittings of the royal household. He also worked on portrait miniatures, large-scale panel portraits on wood, heraldric emblems and illuminated manuscripts.
Hans Holbein Fact 15: The portrait was the most important form of painting for all the artists of the Tudor court and Hans Holbein painted magnificent portraits of King Henry VIII and his family including his ever-changing wives. He gained a reputation for the precise rendering of his drawings and the realism of his portraits.
Hans Holbein Fact 16: His miniature portrait of Anne of Cleves, then a potential wife of Henry VIII following the death of his third wife Jane Seymour, led to some consternation. Holbein painted the miniature of Anne of Cleves and was directed to be as accurate as possible and not to flatter the lady. Holbein balanced honesty and decorum by emphasizing her clothes and jewels rather than her plain looks. Hans Holbein Fact 17: Hans Holbein the Younger was a prolific artist and it has been estimated that during the last 10 years of his life he painted
approximately 150 portraits, both life-size and miniature, of
English royalty and the English nobility.
Hans Holbein Fact 18: Death – Hans Holbein died in 1543 between the dates October 7 and November 29th, in London, England during an epidemic of the bubonic plague.
List of Famous Works by Hans Holbein: Portrait of Bonifacius Amerbach *** The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb *** Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling *** Noli me tangere *** Portrait of Jane Seymour *** Portrait of Henry VIII *** Portrait of Christina of Denmark *** Portrait of Anne of Cleves
Short Facts about Hans Holbein for Kids
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