Hans Holbein the Younger

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Self-portrait around 1542
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543) lived in 1528 and 1531.  St. Johanns-Vorstadt 22 in Basel
Residential house in Basel
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543) lived in 1528 and 1531.  St. Johanns-Vorstadt 22 in Basel
Information board
Holbein's portrait 1519 of his wife Elsbeth Binsenstock on the 20 Reichsmark banknote 1924
The artist's family (his wife Elsbeth with their two children Philipp and Katherina), around 1528, today the Kunstmuseum Basel

Hans Holbein the Younger (* 1497 or 1498 probably in Augsburg ; † November 29, 1543 in London ) was a German painter . In a self-portrait that he painted shortly before his death, he describes himself as a Basel resident ; he received the guild and citizenship rights of the city of Basel in 1519. He is one of the most important Renaissance painters. His best-known work is the painting The Ambassadors from 1533. It depicts two ambassadors who represent the nobility and the clergy . However, he mainly painted portraits of important personalities, such as the English King Henry VIII.


Holbein came from an important family of artists who have been in Ravensburg since the 13th century .

His father Hans Holbein the Elder was one of the well-known painters of his time and worked primarily in Augsburg. His uncle Sigmund Holbein was also artistically active, but little is known about his work and work. One of his brothers, Ambrosius Holbein , was also a painter.

The brothers received their artistic training in their father's workshop. They moved to Basel together in 1515 , hoping to find a good income as illustrators in the then flourishing book printing town. Hans Holbein a. a. for Hans Froben and illustrated books such as Praise the Folly by Erasmus of Rotterdam and Utopia by Thomas More . Hans Holbein stayed in Lucerne around 1517–1519 for artistic work. In the year 1519 the death of his brother Ambrosius and the marriage of Hans Holbein the Elder probably fell. J. with Elsbeth Binsenstock, four years older than him, the widow of a Basel tanner , which enabled him to join the Basel painters' guild ( Zunft zum Himmel ) and become a citizen of Basel in 1520 . She gave birth to four children, Philipp, Katharina, Johannes and Küngold. Holbein immortalized the wife and the first two children in his famous portrait of Holbein's wife with the two older children (1528, Kunstmuseum Basel ), which is considered to be one of the first portraits ever made by an artist of his own family.

At that time, the Dutch philologist and philosopher Erasmus von Rotterdam, whom Holbein portrayed most often, also lived in Basel. In Basel, Holbein also created his two famous Madonna pictures, the so-called Darmstadt Madonna (1525/1526, since 2012 as part of the Würth Collection in the Johanniterkirche , Schwäbisch Hall ) and the Solothurn Madonna (1522, Kunstmuseum Solothurn ). In 1521 he was commissioned to paint the large council chamber in Basel's town hall .

In 1523/1524 Holbein went to France . He drew two statues of princes at the ducal palace Sainte-Chapelle in Bourges im Berry . It remains unclear whether he aspired to the courtly sphere or wanted to benefit from the patronage of King Francis I. Holbein stayed in England for new fields of activity from 1526 to 1528. In 1528 he returned to Basel as a well-known and sought-after painter for four years, where he acquired two houses. After the Protestant iconoclasm in 1529 and the associated ban on religious representations, he received fewer and fewer commissions. In 1532 he finally left Basel for England . He resisted the attempt by the Basel Council to lure him back to Basel in 1538 with an annual salary of 50 gulden .

In London, through the mediation of Erasmus, he made the acquaintance of the humanist Thomas More, who procured him various commissions and also introduced him to King Henry VIII . In 1533 he designed the decorations for the king's wedding to Anne Boleyn . In 1536 he became the king's court painter .

“His [the king's] affection for him was weak. When a lord once complained to the king about an insult to the painter [...] the king replied: 'Know that I can make seven lords out of seven peasants in one minute, like you, but that I can make seven lords of yours Can't hit a single Holbein. '"

- after J. Wiese

Heinrich - looking for a bride - sent Holbein back to the mainland in 1539 to take care of Christina of Denmark and the two daughters of Duke Johann III in Kleve . to draw. He liked the picture of Anna von Kleve very much and decided to marry her. But since the real Anna seemed far less beautiful to him than the painted one, Holbein fell out of favor with him. Although he remained court painter, he was never again allowed to paint a member of the royal family.

The work carried out for the Stalhof and its members also belonged to the period of his second stay in England : portraits of at least five merchants, including the famous Georg Gisze from 1532, allegorical monumental images (triumphs of wealth and poverty, 1532/1535), festival decorations and designs for silver work.

Hans Holbein the Younger died in 1543 of the plague that was rampant in London at the time .

Works (selection)

image title year Size / material Exhibition / collection / owner
Portrait drawing of Jakob Meyer, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg Portrait of Jacob Meyer zum Hasen 1516 28.1 × 19.0 cm, silver pencil on white primed paper, red chalk and traces of black pencil Kunstmuseum Basel , Kupferstichkabinett
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 009.jpg Double portrait of Jacob Meyer zum Hasen and Dorothea Kannengiesser : Portrait of Jacob Meyer zum Hasen 1516 38.5 × 31.0 cm, oil and tempera on linden wood Art Museum Basel
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 008.jpg Double portrait of Jacob Meyer zum Hasen and Dorothea Kannengiesser: Portrait of Dorothea Kannengießer 1516 38.5 × 31.0 cm, oil and tempera on linden wood Art Museum Basel
Portrait of Boniface Amerbach, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg Portrait of Bonifacius Amerbach 1516 28.5 × 27.5 cm, oil on fir wood Kunstmuseum Basel , Amerbach-Kabinett
Hans Holbein- The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb.JPG The body of Christ in the tomb 1521/1522 30.5 × 200 cm, oil and tempera on linden wood Kunstmuseum Basel , Amerbach-Kabinett
Solothurn Madonna, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg Solothurn Madonna 1522 143.5 × 104.9 cm, oil and tempera on linden wood Solothurn Art Museum
Desidrius Erasmus by Hans Holbein.jpg Writing Erasmus from Rotterdam 1523 43 × 33 cm, oil on linden wood Louvre , Paris
Lais of Corinth, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg Lais of Corinth 1526 34.6 × 26.8 cm, tempera on limewood Art Museum Basel
Dance of Death.gif The dance of death 1526 6.4 × 4.8 cm, series of 41 woodcuts
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 079.jpg Venus and Cupid 1526 34.5 × 26 cm, tempera on wood Art Museum Basel
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 050.jpg Portrait of Jacob Meyer zum Hasen around 1525/1526 38.3 × 27.5 cm, black and colored chalks, lead pencils and blind-scratched lines on the contours; Base tinted light gray Kunstmuseum Basel , Kupferstichkabinett
Darmstadtmadonna.jpg Madonna of the mayor
Jacob Meyer zum Hasen
( Darmstadt Madonna )
see also Dresdner Holbeinstreit
1526 146.5 × 102.0 cm, softwood (?) since 2011 Würth Collection
Study for portrait of the More family, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg Design for the family portrait of Thomas More 1526-1527 38.9 × 52.4 cm, pen and brush (black) over preliminary chalk drawing; Lettering and individual motifs in brown ink Kunstmuseum Basel , Kupferstichkabinett
Lady with a Squirrel.jpg Portrait of a lady with a squirrel 1526-1528 56 × 38.8 cm, oil on oak National Gallery , London
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 065.jpg Portrait of Thomas More 1527 74.2 × 59 cm, oak wood Frick Collection , New York
Holbein1528.jpg Portrait of a young lady after 1528 20.8 × 14.2 cm, oil on paper, relined on fine linen, stretched on a stretcher Collection Vicomte Guilhermoz in Paris;

around 1930 Charles Albert de Burlet in Berlin; Féral, Paris; around 1932 Van Diemen, New York; 1932–1945 owned by Helen Swift Neilson, Chicago; 1945 Metropolitan Museum in New York; privately owned in Germany since 1975

Cromwell, Thomas (1EEssex) 01.jpg Thomas Cromwell 1532 76 × 61 cm, oil on panel Frick Collection , New York City
Hans Holbein the Younger - The Merchant Georg Gisze - Google Art Project.jpg Portrait of Georg Gisze 1532 96.3 × 85.7 cm, oil on oak Gemäldegalerie Berlin
Hans Holbein the Younger - The Ambassadors - Google Art Project.jpg Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve ( The Envoys ) 1533 207 × 210 cm, oil on oak National Gallery , London
Hansholbeintheyounger13.jpg Robert Cheseman 1533 58.8 × 62.8 cm, wood Mauritshuis , The Hague
The Stone Thrower, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg The stone thrower approx. 1532-1534 20.3 × 12.2 cm, drawing on paper Kunstmuseum Basel , Kupferstichkabinett
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 032b.jpg Jane Seymour 1536–1537 (?) 65.4 × 40.7 cm, oil on oak Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna
Hans Holbein, the Younger, Around 1497-1543 - Portrait of Henry VIII of England - Google Art Project.jpg Henry VIII circa 1537 28 × 20 cm, oil on oak Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan.jpg Christina of Denmark 1538 179 × 83 cm, oil on oak National Gallery , London
Sir Thomas Parry, by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg Sir Thomas Parry 1538-1540 25.4 × 18.6 cm, pen and chalk drawing Royal Collection , Windsor Castle
Hans Holbein (II) - Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.jpg Thomas Howard , 3rd Duke of Norfolk , Earl Marshal of England 1539 80.3 × 61.6 cm, oak wood Royal Collection , Windsor Castle
AnneCleves.jpg Portrait of Anna von Kleve 1538-1539 65 × 48 cm, parchment on canvas Louvre , Paris
Hans Holbein the Younger - Edward VI as a Child - Google Art Project.jpg Edward Prince of Wales , later King Edward VI. 1539 56.8 × 44 cm, oil on panel National Gallery of Art , Washington
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 074.jpg Portrait of Henry VIII after 1539-1540 88.2 × 75 cm, tempera on wood Palazzo Barberini , Rome
HolbeinThomasWyatt.jpg Portrait Thomas Wyatt 1540-1542 32 × 32 cm, oil on round plate Acquired from Christie's in 1974 by Christopher Gibbs for £ 2,800 . Offered by Sotheby’s in 2006 , but not sold. Authenticity of Tate Britain doubted. 2007 at the art fair The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht for 10 million US dollars . Authenticity confirmed by the TEFAF committee. Further whereabouts unclear.
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. - De Vos van Steenwijk - WGA11576.jpg De Vos van Steenwijk 1541 47.6 cm × 36.2 cm, oil on panel Gemäldegalerie Berlin
Hans Holbein the Elder  J. 036.jpg Portrait of Anton the Good , Duke of Lorraine 1543 51 × 37 cm, tempera on wood Gemäldegalerie Berlin
  • The alphabet de la mort de Hans Holbein: entouré de bordures du XVIe siècle et suivi d'anciens poemes français sur le sujet des trois mors et des trois vis. Tross, Paris 1856, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-79209
  • Images of death. Einsle, Viennae 1890, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-61565
  • The celebrated Hans Holbeins alphabet of death: illustrated with old borders engraved on wood with latin sentences and english quatrains. Tross, Paris 1856, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-73843
  • The dance of death. Coxhead, London 1816, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-76376
  • The dance of death: exhibited in elegant engravings on wood, with a dissertation on the several representations of that subject, but more particulary on those ascribed to Macaber and Hans Holbein. Pickernig, London 1833, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-79209
  • The dances of death, through the various stages of human life: wherein the capriciousness of that tyrant is exhibited in forty-six copper plates; done from the original designs…; to which are prefixed, descriptions of each plate in French and English, with the scripture text from which the designs were taken. Scott & Ostell, London 1803, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-79209
  • La danse des morts à Bâle. Wentzel, Wissembourg 1846, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-68330
  • La danse des morts à Bâle. Hasler, Basel circa 1830, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-67017
  • The dead = || dantz / through all strands || vnnd gender of people /: in it they come from and end nothingness and mortality as to be seen in a mirror for educated and adorned with beautiful figures. Birckmann, Arnold the Elder Ä. (Erben), Cologne 1560, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-38251
  • Hans Holbein's Pictures of Death: reproduced from the proofs and the Lyons edition of 1547 in the Kunsthalle zu Hamburg. Commeter, Hamburg 1897, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-73305
  • Hans Holbein's initial letters with the dance of death. Dieterich, Leipzig 1911, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-38107
  • Hans Holbein's initial letters with the dance of death: after Hans Lutzelburger's orig. in the Dresdner Kabinet. Dieterich, Göttingen 1849, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-76070
  • Hans Holbein's dance of death. Hirth, Munich 1884, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-76946
  • Hans Holbein's Todtentanz: in 53 sheets faithfully lithographed from the woodcuts. Schlotthauer, Munich 1832, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-76587
  • Holbenii Pictoris alphabetum mortis: complete in 24 woodcuts based on the Dresden originals. Heberle, Cologne 1849, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-76084
  • Icones Mortis: Dvodecim Imaginibus praeter priores, totidémque inscriptionibus, praeter epigrammata è Gallicis à Georgio AEmylio in Latinum versa, cumulatae; Qvas his addita sunt, sequens pagina commonstrabit. Basel, 1554, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-43732
  • Oeuvre De Jean Holbein Ou Recueil De Gravures D'Après Ses Plus Beaux Ouvrages: Accompagnés D'Explications Historiques Et Critiques Et De La Vie De Ce Fameux Peintre. Mechel, Basel 1780, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-64384
  • The dance of death. Wittwer, Stuttgart circa 1860, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-64185
  • The dance of death: a poem. Leo, Leipzig 1831, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-58471
  • The dance of death or the triumph of death: after the original woodcuts by Hans Holbein. Robrahn, Magdeburg 1836, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-78627 .
  • The dance of death: forty woodcuts. Holbein-Verlag, Munich 1914, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-77767
  • The dance of death: forty woodcuts. Fischer & Frauke, Berlin 1907, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-59445
  • The story of Job, in several presentations. (inner wing door of an altar)
    • The rich man in his good life. (Counterpart)


  • Oskar Bätschmann: Hans Holbein the Elder J. CH Beck, Munich 2010.
  • Bodo Brinkmann (Ed.): Hans Holbein and the change in the art of the 16th century. Brepols, Turnhout 2005, ISBN 2-503-51604-1 .
  • Daniel Burckhardt: Three rediscovered works from Holbein's earlier days in Basel. In: Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde , Vol. 4, 1905, pp. 18–37. ( Digitized version )
  • Max J. Friedländer. In: Wilhelm R. Valentiner (Ed.): The unknown masterpiece in public and private collections. Vol. 1, Klinkhardt & Biermann, Berlin 1930, p. 68.
  • Paul Ganz : Hans Holbein the Elder J .: The master's painting. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1919 ( Classics of Art. Vol. 20).
  • Eduard His:  Holbein, Hans the Younger . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1880, pp. 715-724.
  • Hans Holbein: The Holbeiners. An overview of a 700-year civil family history with family trees. Seemann, Leipzig 1905. Digital copy (on descent and offspring)
  • Dominik M. Klinger, Antje Höttler: The painter brothers Ambrosius and Hans d. J. Holbein. Catalog raisonné: paintings and miniatures. Wilson-DMK, Nuremberg 1998, ISBN 3-923642-34-2 .
  • Christian Müller, Stephan Kemperdick (ed.): Hans Holbein the Younger. The years in Basel 1515–1532. Prestel, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7913-3581-2 .
  • Katrin Petter-Wahnschaffe: Hans Holbein and the Stalhof in London. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-422-06952-7 , pp. 29-48.
  • Hans Reinhardt:  Holbein, Hans the Younger. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-00190-7 , pp. 515-520 ( digitized version ).
  • John Rowlands: Holbein. The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger. Phaidon, Oxford 1985, ISBN 0-7148-2358-9 .
  • Jochen Sander: Hans Holbein the Elder J .: panel painter in Basel 1515–1532. Hirmer, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-7774-2375-0 .
  • Norbert Wolf : Holbein. 1497 / 98-1543. The German Raffael. Taschen, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-8228-3166-2 .
  • Jeanette Zwingenberger: Hans Holbein the Younger. The shadow of death. Parkstone, Bournemouth 1999, ISBN 1-85995-497-9 .
  • Mauro Zanchi, Holbein, Art e Dossier, Giunti, Firenze 2013. ISBN 978-88-09-78250-1

Literary reception

  • Emanuel Stickelberger : Holbein Trilogy.
    • The man with two souls. Steinkopf, Stuttgart 1942.
    • Holbein in England. Sauerlander, Aarau 1944.
    • Artist and king. Huber, Frauenfeld 1946.

Web links

Commons : Hans Holbein the Younger  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ulrich Hegner: Hans Holbein the Younger: With the master's portrait. In: https://books.google.de/ . G. Reimer, 1827, Berlin, 1827, accessed on July 9, 2017 .
  2. Andreas Mertin: The hymn book of the ambassadors. An exploration of church music politics. 2016, accessed October 10, 2019 .
  3. Hans Holbein: The Holbeiner, an overview of a 700-year bourgeois family history with family trees. EA Seemann, Leipzig 1905.
  4. ^ Royal Collection
  5. ^ Holbeinhaus in Basel
  6. ^ J. Wiese: The six wives of Henry VIII. Peter J. Oestergaard, Berlin-Schöneberg 1931.
  7. The basin from the Bremen town hall in the Focke Museum Bremen is the only silver work that can be traced back to a Holbein design with verifiable proof of provenance at the Stalhof.
  8. a b c d e f g h i Christian Müller, Stephan Kemperdick (ed.): Hans Holbein the Younger. The years in Basel 1515–1532. Prestel, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7913-3581-2 .
  9. Alexander Goette : Holbein's dance of death and his models. Strasbourg 1897.
  10. Hans Georg Wehrens: The dance of death in the Alemannic language area. "I have to do it - and don't know what" . Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-7954-2563-0 , pp. 145 ff.
  11. faz.net
  12. a b c d e f g h Susan Foister: Holbein in England. Tate Publishing, London 2006, ISBN 1-85437-645-4 .
  13. a b c Oskar Bätschmann, Pascal Griener: Hans Holbein. DuMont, Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-7701-3923-2 .
  14. a b Erika Langmuir: National Gallery Museum Guide. National Gallery Company, London 2004, ISBN 1-85709-345-3 .
  15. https://www.economist.com/news/2007/03/16/the-party-of-the-century (02/23/2019)
  16. LIST OF THE v.DERSCHAUISCHE Kunstkabinett zu NÜRNBERG…. Nuremberg, at the obliged auctioneer Schmidmer., 1825., 250 p., Directory of rare art collections., 1825., Google Books, online , p. 8 and 9.