Charles de Solier, Sieur de Morette1480 by Hans Holbein the Younger

...flicking through many heavy tomes and grimoires my roving eyes were constantly transfixed by this gentleman as his eyes seemingly locked on to mine – no matter how fast I was thumbing through the pages....

That’s what floors me – this was done in 1534 or 35. With no “reference” as we would understand it today. No Google search, no camera, nothing. Everything just observed from life. Nearly 500 years ago. And there is no hint of stylisation, cliche or pandering to the punters ego. Not even any dramatic lighting or particularly ominous shadows. He just painted what he saw. Old Charles de Solier is as real in 2018 as he was – no doubt was back in 1535. I have always loved Holbein and there are many incredible portraits to his name which, as well as making his contemporaries look rather tawdry, must have caused many hogs-hair brushes to be snapped asunder and just as many feet to have been kicked through canvasses in frustration.

Charles de Solier, comte de Morette (1480 – 1 February 1552), the son of Aubertin de Solier, comte de Morette (1465–1545), was a French soldier and diplomat as well as a long-serving gentilhomme de la chambre to Francis I. He acted as ambassador to England on a number of occasions from October 1526 to June 1535. Morette was in London in 1534 when Henry VIII was attempting to win French support for his repudiation of Catherine of Aragon, in an alliance against Charles V. Around this time, his portrait was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.
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