Aliases: Hans (der Jüngere) Holbai, Hans (1497) Holbein, Hans (2) Holbein, Hans (der Jüngere) Holbein, Hans (Junior) Holbein, Hans (the younger) Holbein, Hans (der Jüngere) Holbeine, Hans (der Jüngere) Holben, Hans (der Jüngere) Holby, Hans (der Jüngere) Holbyne, Hans (der Jüngere) Olpeius, Hans (der Jüngere) Olpenius, Hans (der Jüngere) Olpenus
(b Augsburg, Germany, 1497; d London, England, 1543) German painter, designer of woodcuts, jewelry and stained glass. The Flemish portraitist, Hans Holbein The Elder, introduced his sons Hans the Younger and his elder brother, Ambrosius, to painting at a young age. In 1515, Ambrosius, who died prematurely four years later, and Hans left their father’s studio to begin independent work in Basel, Switzerland. For several years, the subject and medium of Han’s work varied; including murals, stained glass windows, altarpieces and portraits. Trips to Lucerne, Italy (c. 1517) and France (c. 1523) appeared to influence the religious and portrait paintings produced after his return to Basel. Holbein became initiated into book illustration with the design and completion of the title page woodcuts, as well as a series of pen and ink illustrations, for the book, “The Praise of Folly”, by the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. Other illustrations include the title page for Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” and Martin Luther’s “German Translation of the New Testament” and the “Dance of the Death” series. Around the time of his acceptance into the painters’ guild in 1519, Holbein married Elizabeth Binzenstock, the widow of a tanner. With the completion of three portraits of Erasmus in 1523, he began to establish himself as a portrait artist. The permeation of the Reformation in Basel in 1526 forced Holbein to travel to England to acquire new commissions. Furnished with letters of introduction from his patron, Erasmus, Holbein was soon commissioned to portray several great humanists; including a portrait and family portrait of the English statesman and author, Thomas More. Holbein skillfulness in portraiture eventually earned him the title of court painter under Henry VIII in 1536. Court figures, most of Henry VIII’s wives and son Edward are among some of the surviving portraits. The later years of Holbein’s oeuvre were characterized by a simplification and flattening of composition accentuated by fine attention to details. Holbein demonstrated mastery in the technical skills of portraiture. His ability in draftsmanship helped him to achieve this depth. Paintings were preceded by detailed pencil, ink and chalk drawings with notes concerning the dress, jewelry and important biographical information of his sitter. Hans the Younger Holbein remained in London until his death during the plague epidemic in 1543.