[MR] History Blog: Holbein's Doctored Painting

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 8 02:24:19 PST 2023

Noble Friends,

Today the History Blog reports on an important Holbein portrait from the
16th century.

The painting shows a Hanse merchant active in London during the 1530s,
Derich Born. Born and his brother dealt in metals and weaponry, including
business with Henry VIII. At the age of 23 he sat for a portrait, one of
several Holbein painted for important merchants from the Steelyard, the
Hanse enclave in London.

Recently the portrait, now in the Royal Collection, was loaned to the Getty
in 2021. During its visit to the U.S. the painting was x-rayed. The scans
reveal that Holbein reworked Born's cheeks several times, hardening them
into sharper lines.

Such tinkering with reality was not uncommon with Renaissance painters who
usually knew the value of flattery to their subjects. Burgundian court
painter Rogier van der Weyden was notorious for this sort of trickery. His
famous portrait of Anthony, Bastard of Burgundy from about 1463 shows his
subject with a square jaw and manly cheekbones. Just four years later the
next court painter, Hans Melming painted a much fleshier, and probably more
lifelike, version of Antoine.

The story on the Holbein, along with some interesting tid-bits about the
Hanse in London, at https://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/68972 .

The two paintings of Antoine can be compared at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony,_bastard_of_Burgundy .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆
Continuing a crusade to keep Merry Rose relevant and in business.

More information about the Atlantia mailing list