Portrait of Benedikt von Hertenstein1517 by Hans Holbein the Younger

In 1517 Holbein decorated the house of the Lucerne magistrate Jacob von Hertenstein. Concurrently, he made this portrait of the magistrate's eldest son, Benedikt, who engages the viewer both with his direct glance and the inscription, which reads as if he is speaking: "When I looked like this I was twenty-two years old." Directly following these words is the declaration, that "H.H." painted the work. The artist’s use of paper mounted on wood is unusual but not unique. He initiated the portrait as a drawing on paper and then continued working up in oil colors to its completion.

The portrait is painted in oil on paper. In 1906 the paper support was glued to a 17th-century wood panel composed of three pieces of wood, with the grain oriented vertically; it was then cradled. In 1936 the verso was thickly coated with wax. There are several dents and wrinkles in the surface, visible in raking light, as well as an overall pebbly...
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Media: oil on panel