Notes and Quotes from Video: “A culture show special. Holbein – Eye of the Tudors”

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543)

Born in Augsburg in Bavaria.

Trained by his father, a religious painter, Hans Holbein the Elder.

Had been working as a book illustrator and religious painter before he went to England.

In 1526, he went to England to work.

“England, though, had never had much of an appetite for Madonnas and Christs. That kind of thing was best left to the Italians. In England, the art form that was most esteemed, and which seemed most in tune with the national psyche, was portraiture.” (14’03”-14’21”) (The time when Holbein went to England, the background and reason why he started to draw portraits.)

In 1528, he went back to Basel.

In 1532, he went to England again. He lived in German Steelyard in London first. (German Steelyard: An area for German merchants. To Holbein, it was like a home of home for him.) Then started to work for the King, Henry VIII.

Holbein’s painting for German merchants included details: “All these details which had been described so perfectly by Holbein have other meanings. Secret little messages that have been smuggled into the picture.” (25’51”-26’01”) (Holbein was very good at drawing details and hide little story in a painting.)

“…invent a look for Henry VIII that was instantly recognisable. Henry needed portraits of himself to hand out to passing dignitaries, people he was trying to impress. So this wasn’t portraiture as a record of how he actually looked– this was portraiture as a weapon of propaganda. (37’32”-37’50”) (One of the most important functions of the portraits of Henry VIII)

“Holbein was no longer int the business of telling the truth. Instead, he’s invented a Henry VIII so imposing and wide that no-one dared argue with him. It was a task accomplished int the Mao Tse-Tung manner, with constant repetition, and huge exaggerations of scale.” (39’21”-39’50”) (The design and meaning behind the portraits. / Comparison: the scale of Holbein’s portrait and Sugimoto’s portrait.)

Holbein died of plague in 1543.

His influence to England history and to the world: “If Holbein hadn’t fetched up in England when he did, I’m absolutely certain that we wouldn’t be as obsessed with the Tudors as we are. By making the age of Henry VIII so damn tangible, Holbein forced it into our thoughts forever.” (58’51”-59’10”)


[Bibliography info]

A culture show special. Holbein – Eye of the Tudors. (2015) Directed by Waldemar Januszczak UK: BBC2.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s