Hans Holbein the Younger

Not to be confused with Hans Holbein the Elder.

Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497 – between 7 Oct. and 29 Nov. 1543); German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire, and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design. He is called "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, an accomplished painter of the Late Gothic school." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

He began in the Gothic tradition, of which his father was a master, and his early "Germanic" style can be seen in the 1516 portrait of Jacob Meyer, the mayor of Basel, done when Hans the Younger was still an apprentice and only about 19. Ten years later, in the profile portrait sketch of Meyer's daughter Anna, we can see his own unique style emerging.

There is some dispute as to the procedures Holbein used in his portrait drawings, but some things are evident. He put a great deal of care into these preliminary sketches, which were quite exacting though apparently done fairly quickly, and seems to have employed certain methods of transferring the sketched images to wood when continuing on with the image in a painting.

Some think he used a "puzzle assembly" mode of transferring small sketched images to larger wood panels by the pouncing method, with a metal stylus.

It's known that some German artists, including Dürer employed tracing (perspective) apparati, optical and lens devices. David Hockney suggests Holbein employed a camera obscura. Others suggest that David Hockney was merely envious of Holbein's fabulous skills as a draughtsman, and that Holbein in his preliminary portrait sketches was drawing freely and straight "from life".

In any case, all artists use tools, and some of the...
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Christopher Foster


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