German painting

"Ambassadors", Hans Holbein Jr. - description of the painting

  • Author: Hans Holbein the Younger
  • Museum: National Gallery (London)
  • Year: 1533
  • Click image for larger version

Description of the picture:

Ambassadors - Hans Holbein the Younger. 1533. Wood, oil. 207x209.5

A rare picture provokes such heated debates and discussions about its content as "Ambassadors" of Hans Holbein the Younger. It depicts two rich and educated people. Left, as established, - 29-year-old French ambassador to England Jean de Denteville, on right - Georges de selves, Bishop of Lavoie, who visited London in April 1533. A young man of 25 years old, it is amazing how many important missions he was entrusted with at that age - he was the envoy to the Republic of Venice and the Vatican.
Representatives of the intellectual elite are captured in the environment of all sorts of objects, testifying to their interests. Depicted many measuring tools needed to navigate in time and space. They are extremely interesting to consider. For example, on the sides of the sundial polyhedron, different points are indicated as a guide, this is due to the time zones. Since the ambassadors traveled a lot (in that era, time zones were not established de jure, they existed de facto), such watches helped them navigate in local time and relate it to London. The artist also painted books, including a collection of Luther's hymns. Here there are physical instruments and musical instruments, in the central place is a lute, a case for flutes. The most mysterious object, which could not be determined for a long time, is an extremely optically modified (lying on the image angle) lying on the floor ... a skull.
The picture is not just a portrait, it carries a certain symbolic message. The skull, of course, brings into it the motive of the frailty of earthly existence "Memento mori" (from Latin - "Remember death"). Some items can be read as a hint of a religious schism that has occurred and hot discussions connected with it, in this vein the broken lute string is interpreted.

Other paintings by Hans Holbein

Double portrait
Portrait of the french ambassador
Portrait of Sir Richard Southwell
Self portrait
Portrait of Christina Danish
Portrait of a merchant
Dead Christ in the tomb
Portrait of Henry VIII
Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam
Portrait of Thomas More
Darmstadt Madonna

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