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Hans Holbein the Younger and Couching

Hans Holbein the Younger: Dorothea Kannengiesser (1516). Hans Holbein the Younger: Dorothea Kannengiesser (1516). Copyright Kunstmuseum Basel, acc. no. 312.

The German artist Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497-1543) is known for his fine drawings and paintings, especially his portraits of North European royalty and notables. Holbein is particularly known for paintings with highly detailed elements, especially the clothing of his sitters and for the embroidery used to decorate the various garments. The embroidery techniques painted in these portraits include couching.

A selection of his paintings with couching has been given in chronological order below (the page numbering refers to Buck and Sander 2003):

  • Portrait of Dorothea Kannengießer, the wife of Jakob Meyer zum Hausen (1516): the sitter is depicted wearing a chemise with a low neckline. The neckline is decorated with a band of gold thread embroidery, with four similar bands set at right angles to the neck opening band. In addition there are couched cords and tassels (p. 17; Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel). This is part of a double portrait (together with a painting of her husband, Jacob Meyer).
  • 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 broad band of blackwork (pp. 115-117; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
  • (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 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).

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

Kunstmuseum Basel online catalogue (retrieved 29 April 2017).

GVE

Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 09:07