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Hans Holbein the Younger and Blackwork

Hans Holbein the Younger: The Darmstadt Madonna, c. 1525/1526. Also known as the 'Madonna des Bürgermeisters Jacob Meyer zum Hasen' or 'Schutzmantelmadonna'. Hans Holbein the Younger: The Darmstadt Madonna, c. 1525/1526. Also known as the 'Madonna des Bürgermeisters Jacob Meyer zum Hasen' or 'Schutzmantelmadonna'. Copyright Johanniterkirche, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

The German artist Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497-1543) is known for his fine drawings and paintings, especially those of a religious nature, and for his portraits of North European royalty and notables. Holbein is particularly famous for paintings with highly detailed elements, especially the clothing of his sitters and the embroidery used to decorate the various garments.

The embroidery techniques painted in Holbein's works include blackwork. A selection of his paintings with blackwork has been given below in chronological order (the page numbers refer to Buck and Sander 2003):

  • The Meyer or Darmstadt Madonna (1525/6): the kneeling figure to the right is wearing an embroidered cap and a white dress with broad, horizontal bands of blackwork (pp. 37, 54-55; Johanniterhalle, Schwäbisch Hall).
  • Sketch of Anna Meyer (c. 1526): the sitter is shown wearing a chemise with indications of several horizontal bands, presumably in blackwork, on the sleeves and cuffs. There is also an indication of applied or embroidered quatrefoils around the upright collar (p. 39; Kunstmuseum, Kupferstichkabinett, Basel).
  • Portrait of Thomas Godsalve and his son John Godsalve (1528): John Godsalve is depicted wearing a shirt with a collar decorated with knotwork designs embroidered in blackwork (p. 73; Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden).
  • Portrait of Nicolous Kratzer (1528): the sitter is shown wearing a narrow band of blackwork on the collar of his shirt (p. 21; Musée du Louvre).
  • Portrait of Georg Gisze (1532): the sitter is shown wearing a narrow band of blackwork at the collar (p. 26; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin).
  • Portrait of Derich Born (1533): Born is shown wearing a shirt with a collar band decorated with an intricate knotwork design embroidered in blackwork (pp. 94-96; Royal Collection, London).
  • Portrait of Simon George (c. 1536/7): the sitter is wearing an intricate collar with what appear to be two layers of cloth, one on each side of the collar, decorated with two different designs worked in an intricate blackwork design (p. 113; Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main).
  • Portrait of Henry VIII (1536/7): the king is shown wearing a doublet with gold coloured yellow work around the collar, and with wide stripes of blackwork foliage on the doublet front and sleeves (p. 28; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid).
  • Portrait of Jane Seymour (1536/7): the sitter is wearing an English gable hood with goldwork embroidery and applied pearls, there are also pearls around the neck opening of her dress. The dress sleeves are decorated with couched lines of gold cord in a trellis pattern. The chemise sleeve cuffs are decorated with a band of blackwork (pp. 115-117; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
  • Portrait of Elizabeth Audley (c. 1538): the sitter is wearing examples of blackwork around her sleeve cuffs. In addition there is probably an embroidered band around the neck opening (pp. 129-131; Royal Collection, London).
  • Portrait of Thomas Howard (c. 1539/40): the sitter is wearing a shirt collar with a broad band of knotwork, embroidered in blackwork (pp. 134-137).
  • (from Holbein's studio) Portrait of Jane Seymour (c. 1540): the sitter is wearing an English gable hood with goldwork embroidery and applied pearls, there are also pearls around the neck opening of her dress. The dress sleeves are decorated with couched lines of gold cord in a trellis pattern. The chemise sleeve cuffs are decorated with a narrow band of blackwork (pp. 118-119; Mauritshuis, The Hague).
  • Portrait of a boy with lemur (unknown date): the boy is depicted wearing a shirt with indications of a narrow band of blackwork around the collar (p. 86; Öffentlichen Kunstsammlung, Basel).

Source: BUCK, Stephanie and Jochen SANDER (eds; 2003). Hans Holbein: Portraitist of the Renaissance, Zwolle: Uitgerij Waanders b.v.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 30 May 2016)

GVE

Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 08:27