In July 2017, some of the highlights of the Royal Collection’s print room will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery, including original sketches by Leonardo da Vinci and Holbein. Before these rare sketches were sent to be displayed, members from our Medieval and Early Modern Teams were invited to visit the Royal Collection and view the works, including several pieces by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543).
Holbein’s portrait sketches – preparatory studies to be converted into painted works – give a fascinating insight into the creative processes which underpinned his work, but they also shed light on those members of the English court who commissioned the works. The majority of these sitters are well known characters who frequently inhabited the court of Henry VIII around the time of Holbein’s two visits to England, 1526-28 and 1532-43.
In this blog we will look at these visits in more detail, and look for traces of Holbein’s activities, networks and movements around the time that these incredible sketches were being produced.
First visit to England
There are several documents at The National Archives which relate to Holbein’s first stay in England and his connections with the humanist movement, a group which included men such as the influential writers Erasmus and Sir Thomas More (whom Holbein sketched in 1526-7). It is clear from our records that Holbein kept himself busy when not engaged in the commission of portraits. Continue reading »