Hans Holbein the Younger and Gold Thread Work

Portrait of William Warham, by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527). Portrait of William Warham, by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527). Copyright Musée du Louvre, Paris.

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 include gold thread work.

A selection of paintings with gold thread work has been given in chronological order (the page numbering follows Buck and Sander 2003):

  • Portrait of Dorothea Kannengießer, the wife of Jakob Meyer zum Hausen (1516): the sitter is depicted wearing a chemise with 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; Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel).
  • Portrait of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury (1527): the archbishop is shown together with his mitre decorated with gold thread embroidery, applied jewels and applied pearls (p. 23; Musée du Louvre, Paris).
  • Portrait of Prince Edward (c. 1538): the young prince is shown wearing a cap with applied gold bracteates. In addition, there is a narrow band of gold thread embroidery around the neck opening (pp. 130-133; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC).

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).

Musée du Louvre online catalogue (retrieved 29 June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 08:53