Description of the painting by Hans Holbein the Younger “Erasmus of Rotterdam”

Description of the painting by Hans Holbein the Younger Erasmus of Rotterdam

Hans Holbein the Younger – German painter of the Northern Renaissance. One of the first artists who focused on secular, not religious subjects. So, Holbein won the audience not only in his homeland, but also abroad. His career began to flourish in 1515, when he and his brother moved to Basel, the cultural center and university town.

This event influenced his future career, because it gave a significant impetus to the development of the painter’s talent of the artist. Acquainted with Erasmus of Rotterdam, the largest scientist, nicknamed the “prince of humanists”, Hans Holbein receives his first big order for a book illustration. At the same time, he paints a portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam, which instantly brings him fame. In this picture, he proved himself as an innovator, having renounced the Gothic tradition of writing, which until now prevailed in German painting of the XVI century. The master’s painting has a characteristic plastic modeling, so its style cannot be confused with other authors of that period.

The first thing that comes to mind when looking at a portrait of a scientist is the scrupulousness, accuracy and restraint of the author himself. In the portrait there is not a hint of fiction, so accurately everything is drawn. No wonder Holbein was called a master of drawing, not painting. Before taking up the work, he thoroughly painted the portrait, filling it with necessary details, and then he began to make a pictorial drawing. In the portrait of the artist, the face of Erasmus of Rotterdam is full of dignity and peace. This canvas was one of the most important works of the Basel period in his work. The specificity of the transmission of reality inherent only to Holbein is the realism of the artist’s mastery and the lack of emotional coloring in the persons portrayed. Portrait genre is the area of painting where Holbein was realized as an artist.

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