|Hans Holbein the Younger
|Hans Holbein the Younger, 1497-1543, was born in Augsburg into a family of artists, and his first art
lessons were from his father. In 1515, the he went to Basel, Switzerland with his brother Ambrosius
and became friends with the Dutch humanist Erasmus, illustrating some of his work. He also painted
portraits and designed stained glass windows. One of his most noted designs was for a series
of 41 woodcuts later called "The Dance of Death." Although he made Basel his home, he also
travelled to northern Italy and France.By 1526, Basel was home to religious riots and the city
imposed strict censorship. This had a severe impact on artists, and Holbein left Basel for England
late in 1526 at 28 years old with a letter of introduction from Erasmus to English statesman Sir
Thomas More. He stayed two years.
In 1528, he returned to Basel, where he painted portraits and murals and publicly took up
Protestantism. In 1532, he left his wife and children forever, in spite of generous offers to reunite
them, and traveled again to London, where he became court painter to Henry VIII. His services
were much desired, and he produced more than 100 portraits. He also designed the king's clothing
and made inventory drawings of items used by the royal household.
In 1539, Henry VIII had enough confidence in Holbein that when he was thinking of marrying Anne
of Kleve he sent Holbein on a mission to the continent to visit her and execute a realistic portrait for
his scrutiny. In 1543, Holbein was still in London after 11 years and working on another portrait of
the king when he died, a victim of the London plague. Holbein was one of the greatest portraitists
and most exquisite draftsmen of all time.