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Title: Holbein
Author: Fortescue, Beatrice
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Clive Pickton, Joseph E. Loewenstein M.D. and the Online

  Illustration: _Hans Holbein the Younger_
 _Coloured Chalks. Basel Museum_






_First published in 1904_




  Historical epoch and antecedents--Special conditions and character
  of early Christian art--Ideals and influence of the monk--Holbein's
  relation to mediæval schools--His father, uncle, and Augsburg
  home--Probable dates for his birth and his father's death--Troubles
  and dispersion of the Augsburg household--From Augsburg to Basel--His
  brother Ambrose--Erasmus and the _Praise of Folly_; some erroneous
  impressions of both--Erasmus and Holbein no Protestants at
  heart--Holbein and the Bible--Illustrated Vernacular Bibles in
  circulation before Luther and Holbein were born--Holbein's earliest
  Basel oil-paintings--Direct and indirect education--Historical,
  geographical, and scientific revolutions of his day--Beginning of
  his connection with the Burgomaster of Basel--Jacob Meyer zum
  Hasen--Holbein's woodcuts--His studies from nature--Sudden visit
  to Lucerne--Italian influence on his art--Work for the Burgomaster
  of Lucerne                                                           1



  _Holbein Basiliensis_--Enters the Painters' Guild--Bonifacius
  Amerbach and his portrait--The Last Supper and its Judas--The so-called
  "Fountain of Life" at Lisbon--Genius for design and symbolism in
  architecture--Versatility, humour, fighting scenes--Holbein becomes a
  citizen and marries--Basel in 1519--Froben's circle--Tremendous events
  and issues of the time--Holbein's religious works--The Nativity and
  Adoration at Freiburg--Hans Oberriedt--The Basel Passion in eight
  panels--Passion Drawings--Christ in the tomb--Christ and Mary Magdalen
  at the door of the sepulchre--Rathaus wall-paintings--Birth of
  Holbein's eldest child--The Solothurn Madonna: its discovery and
  rescue--Holbein's wife and her portraits--Suggested solutions of
  some biographical enigmas--Title pages--Portraits of Erasmus--Journey
  to France, probably to Lyons and Avignon--Publishers and pictures of
  the so-called "Dance of Death"--Dorothea Offenburg as Venus and Laïs
  Corinthiaca--Triumph of the Protestant party--Holbein decides to
  leave Basel for a time--The Meyer-Madonna of Darmstadt and Dresden,
  and its portraits                                                     45



 First visit to England--Sir Thomas More: his home and portraits--The
 Windsor drawings--Bishop Fisher--Archbishop Warham--Bishop
 Stokesley--Sir Henry Guildford and his portrait--Nicholas Kratzer--Sir
 Bryan Tuke--Holbein's return to Basel--Portrait-group of his wife and
 two eldest children; two versions--Holbein's children, and families
 claiming descent from him--Iconoclastic fury--Ruined arts--Death of
 Meyer zum Hasen--Another Meyer commissions the last paintings for
 Basel--Return to England--Description of the Steelyard--Portraits of
 its  members--George Gysze--Basel Council summons Holbein home--"The
 Ambassadors" at the National Gallery; accepted identification--Coronation
 of Queen Anne Boleyn--Lost paintings for the Guildhall of the Steelyard;
 the Triumphs of Riches and Poverty--The great Morett portrait;
 identifications--Holbein's industry and fertility--Designs for
 metal-work and other drawings--Solomon and the Queen of Sheba         114


PAINTER ROYAL (1536-1543)

 Queen Jane Seymour--Death of Erasmus, and title-page portrait--The
 Whitehall painting of Henry VIII.--Munich drawing of Henry VIII.--Birth
 of an heir and the "Jane Seymour Cup"--Death of the Queen--Christina,
 Duchess of Milan--Secret service for the King--Flying visit to Basel and
 arrangements for a permanent return--Apprentices his son Philip at
 Paris--Portrait of the Prince of Wales and the King's return gift--Anne
 of Cleves--Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk--Catherine Howard--Lapse
 of Holbein's Basel citizenship--Irregularities--Provision for wife
 and children--Residence in London--Execution of Queen Catherine
 Howard--Marriage of Catherine Parr--Dr. Chamber--Unfinished work
 for the Barber-Surgeons' Hall--Death of Holbein--His will--Place of
 burial--Holbein's genius: its true character and greatness            156

CATALOGUE OF PRINCIPAL EXISTING WORKS                                  188

REFERENCES                                                             189

INDEX                                                                  199


 1. HOLBEIN      _Frontispiece_
    Self Portrait. From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

 2. "PROSY" AND "HANS" HOLBEIN                                          16
    Drawn by their father, Hans Holbein the elder. Silver-point.
    (Berlin Cabinet.)

 3. SCHOOLMASTER'S SIGNBOARD                                            26
    Oils. (Basel Museum.)

 4. JACOB MEYER (ZUM HASEN)                                             31
    Oils. (Basel Museum.) From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

 5. DOROTHEA MEYER (née KANNEGIESSER)                                   31
    Oils. (Basel Museum.) From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

 6. BONIFACIUS AMERBACH                                                 46
    Oils. (Basel Museum.)

 7. FIGHT OF LANDSKNECHTE                                               58
    Washed drawing. (Basel Museum.) From a Photograph in the
    Rischgitz Collection.

 8. THE NATIVITY                                                        72
    Oils. (University Chapel, Freiburg Cathedral.)
    From a photograph by G. Röbke, Freiburg.

 9. THE PASSION                                                         74
      I. GETHSEMANE.                    II. THE KISS OF JUDAS.
      V. THE MOCKING.                   VI. THE WAY TO CALVARY.
    Eight-panelled Altar-piece. (Basel Museum.)

10. CHRIST IN THE GRAVE                                                 78
    Oils. (Basel Museum.)

11. THE RISEN CHRIST                                                    82
    Oils. (Hampton Court Gallery.)

12. THE SOLOTHURN, OR ZETTER'SCHE, MADONNA                              86
    Oils. (Solothurn Museum.) From a photograph by
    Braun, Clement, and Cie., Paris.

    Silver-point and Indian ink. (Louvre Collection. Believed
    by the writer to be Holbein's drawing of his wife before
    her first marriage, and the model for the Solothurn Madonna.)
    From a photograph by Braun, Clement, and Cie., Paris.

14. ERASMUS                                                             98
    Oils. (The Louvre.) From a photograph by A. Giraudon, Paris.

15. THE PLOUGHMAN; THE PRIEST                                          102
    "Images of Death." Woodcut series.

16. DOROTHEA OFFENBURG AS THE GODDESS OF LOVE                          104
    Oils. (Basel Museum.) From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

17. DOROTHEA OFFENBURG AS LAÏS CORINTHIACA                             106
    Oils. (Basel Museum.) From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

18. THE MEYER-MADONNA                                                  109
    Oils. (Grand Ducal Collection, Darmstadt.)
    From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

19. THE MEYER-MADONNA                                                  109
    (Later Version. Held by many to be a copy.) Oils.
    (Dresden Gallery.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

20. SIR THOMAS MORE                                                    116
    Chalks. (Windsor Castle.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

21. JOHN FISHER, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER                                   118
    Chalks. (Windsor Castle.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

22. SIR HENRY GUILDFORD                                                120
    Oils. (Windsor Castle.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

23. NICHOLAS KRATZER                                                   122
    Oils. (The Louvre.)

24. SIR BRYAN TUKE                                                     124
    Oils. (Munich Gallery.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

    Oils. (Basel Museum.) From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

    Washed drawing. (Basel Museum.)
    From a photograph in the Rischgitz Collection.

27. JÖRG (OR GEORGE) GYZE                                              142
    Oils. (Berlin Museum.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

28. "THE AMBASSADORS"                                                  146
    Oils. (National Gallery.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

29. THE MORETT PORTRAIT                                                152
    Oils. (Dresden Gallery.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

30. QUEEN JANE SEYMOUR                                                 158
    Oils. (Vienna Gallery.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

31. KING HENRY VIII. AND HIS FATHER                                    160
    Fragment of cartoon used for the Whitehall wall-painting.
    (Duke of Devonshire's Collection.)

32. KING HENRY VIII.                                                   162
    (Life Study; probably for the Whitehall Painting.)
    Chalks. (Munich Collection.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

33. DESIGN FOR THE "JANE SEYMOUR CUP"                                  164
    (Bodleian Library.)

34. CHRISTINA OF DENMARK, DUCHESS OF MILAN                             166
    Oils. (National Gallery.) Lent by the Duke of Norfolk.

35. ANNE OF CLEVES                                                     172
    Oils. (The Louvre.) From a photograph by A. Giraudon, Paris.

36. THOMAS HOWARD, THIRD DUKE OF NORFOLK                               174
    Oils. (Windsor Castle.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.

37. CATHERINE HOWARD                                                   176
    Chalk drawing. (Windsor Castle.)

38. DR. CHAMBER                                                        180
    Oils. (Vienna Gallery.) From a photograph by F. Hanfstaengl.




  Historical epoch and antecedents--Special conditions and character
  of early Christian art--Ideals and influence of the monk--Holbein's
  relation to mediæval schools--His father, uncle, and Augsburg
  home--Probable dates for his birth and his father's death--Troubles
  and dispersion of the Augsburg household--From Augsburg to Basel--His
  brother Ambrose--Erasmus and the _Praise of Folly_; some erroneous
  impressions of both--Erasmus and Holbein no Protestants at
  heart--Holbein and the Bible--Illustrated vernacular Bibles in
  circulation before Luther and Holbein were born--Holbein's earliest
  Basel oil paintings--Direct and indirect education--Historical,
  geographical, and scientific revolutions of his day--Beginning of
  his connection with the Burgomaster of Basel--Jacob Meyer zum
  Hasen--Holbein's woodcuts--His studies from nature--Sudden visit to
  Lucerne--Italian influence on his art--Work for the Burgomaster
  of Lucerne.

The eighty-three years stretching from 1461 to 1543--between the
probable year of the elder Hans Holbein's birth and that in which the
younger, the great Holbein, died--constitute one of those periods which
rightly deserve the much-abused name of an Epoch. The Christian era of
itself had known many: the Yellow-Danger of the fifth century making one
hideous smear across Europe; the _Hic Jacet_ with which this same
century entombed an Empire three continents could not content; the new
impulse which Charlemagne and Alfred had given to Progress in the ninth
century; the triumphant establishment of Papal Supremacy, that Napoleonic
idea of Gregory VII.--_Sanctus Satanas_, of the eleventh, and grand
architect in a vaster Roman Empire which still "humanly contends for
glory"; and lastly, at the very threshold of the Holbeins, the invention
of movable printing types about 1440, and the fall of Constantinople in
1453, which combined to drive the prodigies and potencies of Greek
genius through the world.

Each of these had done its own special work for the advancement
of man--as for that matter all things must, whether by help or
helplessness. Not less than Elijah did the wretched priests of Baal
serve those slow, sure, eternal Purposes, which include an Ahab and all
the futile fury of his little life as the sun includes its "spots."

But although the stream of History is one, and its every succeeding
curve only an expansion of the first, there has probably been no century
of our era when this stream has been so suddenly enlarged, or bent so
sharply toward fresh constellations as in that of the Holbeins,--when
Religion and Art, as well as Science, saw a New World upon its astonished
horizon. So that we properly call it a transition period, and its
representative men "transitional."

Yet we shall never get near to these real men, to their real world, unless
we can forget all about the pose of this or the other Zeitgeist--that tale

  _Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
   Signifying nothing._

For we must keep constantly in mind that what we call the Middle Ages
or--worse yet--the Dark Ages, made up the Yesterday of the Holbeins and
was the flesh and blood transmitted to them as their own flesh and blood
with all its living bonds toward the Old and all its living impulses
toward the New.

A now famous New Zealander is, we know, to sketch our own "mediævalism"
with contemptuous pity for its darkness. But until his day comes, our
farthing-dips seem to make a gaudy illumination. And, meantime, we are
alive; we walk about; we, too, can swell the chorus which the Initiated
chant in every century with the same fond confidence: "We alone enjoy
the Holy Light."

The New is ever becoming old; the old ever changing into New. And if we
ask why each waxes or wanes just when it does and as it does, there is,
in the last analysis, no better answer than Aurora's explanation for
chancing on the poets--

  _Because the time was ripe._

And the Holbein century is one of stupendous Transitions because the
time was ripe; and not simply because printing was invented, or Greek
scholars were driven from Constantinople to scatter abroad in Europe, or
Ferdinand and Isabella wanted a direct route to Cathay, or Friar Martin
nailed ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenberg's church, and built
himself thereby an everlasting name as Luther.

And because the time was ripe for a new Art, even more than because this
or that great painter entrained it, it also had its transition period,
and Holbein is set down in manuals as a transitional painter. Teutonic,
too; because all Christian art is either Byzantine or Italian or
Teutonic in its type.

When it first crept from the catacombs under the protection of the
Constantinople Court it could but be Byzantine; that strange composite
obtained by stripping the Greek "beast" of every pagan beauty and then
decking it out with crude Oriental ornament. But who that prizes the
peculiar product of that fanaticism would have had its cradle without
this sleepless terror, lest for the whole world of classic heathendom
it should lose the dear-bought soul of purely Christian ideals? Or who,
remembering that in thus relentlessly sacrificing its entire heritage of
pagan accumulation it put back the clock of Art to the Stone Age, and
had to begin all over again in the helpless bewilderment of untaught
childish effort,--could find twice ten centuries too long for the
astounding feat it achieved? Ten centuries, after all, make but a
marvellous short course betwixt the archaic compositions of the third
century and the compositions of Giotto or Wilhelm Meister.

A great deal of nonsense is talked about the "tyrannies" which the
Monastic Age inflicted on Art. Of course, monasticism fostered fanaticism.
It does not need the luminous genius that said it, to teach us that
"whatever is necessary to what we make our sole object is sure, in some
way or in some time or other, to become our master." And with the monk,
the true monk in his day of usefulness, every knowledge and every art
was good or bad according as it served monastic ideals. But it is absurd
to say that the monk--_qua_ monk--"put the intellect in chains." The
whole body of his oppression was not so paralysing as the iron little
finger of Malherbe and his school of "classic" despots. To charge upon
the monk the limitations of his crude thought and cruder methods is
about as intelligent as it would be to fall foul of Shakespeare because
boys played his women's parts.

The springs of Helicon were the monk's also, as witness Tuotilo and
Bernard of Clairvaux; but it was by the waters of Jordan that his
miracles were wrought. As Johnson somewhere says of Watts, "every kind
of knowledge was by the piety of his mind converted into theology." And
for the rest,--by the labour of his hands, by his fasting from the
things of the flesh, by his lofty faith--however erring or forgotten or
betrayed, in individual cases,--by every impressive lesson of a hard
life lived unto others and a hard death died unto himself, century
after century it was the monk who taught and helped the barbarian of
every land to turn the desolate freedom of the wild ass into a smiling
homestead and the savage Africa of his own heart into at least a better
place. The marvel is that he could at the same time find room or energy
to make his monastery also a laboratory, a library, and a studio. And
yet he did.

To say that he abhorred Greek ideals is to say that the shepherd abhors
the wolf. His life was one long fight with the insidious poison of the
Greek. He did not,--at any rate in his best days--believe at all in Art
for Art's sake; and had far too intimate an acquaintance with the
"natural man" to do him even justice. What he wanted was to do away with

Yet with all its repellent features, it is to this unflinching
exclusiveness of the monkish ideal that we owe one of the most exquisite
blossoms on the stock of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,--their
innocent and appealing art; an art as original and as worthy of reverence,
within its own peculiar province, as the masterpieces of Greece or
Italy. You must turn from the beauty of Antinous to the beauty of, say,
the Saint Veronica, among the works of the Cologne school at Munich,
before you can estimate the Gulf of many things besides time which for
ever divides the world of the one from the world of the other. And
then you must essay to embody the visions of Patmos with a child's
colour-box and brushes, before you can compare the achievements--the
amazing achievements--of the monkish ideal with the achievements of
classic paganism.

With the school of Wilhelm Meister this tremendous revolution had
accomplished itself; and solely through the indomitable will of the
monk. The ideal of Greece had been to show how gods walk the earth. This
Christian ideal was to show how devout men and women walk with God.
Their ineffable heavenly faces look out from their golden world--

  _Inviolate, unwearied,
   Divinest, sweetest, best,_

upon this far-off, far other world, where nothing is inviolate, and
divinest things must come at last to tears and ashes.

But the monk had had his day as well as his way. The so-called Gothic
architecture had expressed its uttermost of aspiration and tenuity; and
painting had fulfilled its utmost accommodation to the ever more slender
wall-spaces and forms which this architecture necessitated. And once
again, in the fifteenth century, the time was ripe for a new transition.
Art was now to reveal the realities of this world, and to concern itself
with Man among them. And just as the law of reaction flung the mind
into religious revolt from the outworn dogmas and overgrown pretensions
of the monkish ideal, so did it drive the healthy reaction of art into
its own extravagances of protest. And we shall see how even a genius
like Holbein's was unable to entirely free itself from this reactionary
defect. For with all his astonishing powers, imaginative and technical,
he never wholly overcame that defect of making his figures too short and
too thick-set for grace, which amounted to a deformity in the full-length
figures of his early work, and was due to his fierce revolt from the
unnaturally elongated forms of an earlier period.

Yet we should make a grave mistake if we were to regard Holbein as cut
off by this reaction from all affinities with the monkish ideals of
the Cologne school. On the contrary. We shall see, especially in his
religious pictures, how many of those ideals had fed the very springs of
his imagination and sunk deep into his art; only expressing themselves
in his own symbolism and in forms unlike theirs.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Augsburg Gallery there is a painting by Holbein's father, the
"Basilica of St. Paul," in which there is a group introduced after the
fashion of the period, which has a special biographical interest. This
group, in the Baptism of St. Paul, is believed by many authorities to be
a portrait-group of the painter himself,--Hans Holbein the Elder, and
his two young sons, Ambrose (or Amprosy, as it was often written) and
Johannes, or "Hanns." The portrait of the father is certainly like
Holbein's own drawing of him in the Duke d'Aumale's Collection, which
Sandrart engraved in his account of the younger Holbein; while the heads
of the two boys are very like those which we shall find later in a
drawing in the Berlin Gallery. From the pronounced way in which his
father's hand rests on little Hans' head, while the left points him
out,--and even his elder brother "Prosy" shows by his attitude the
special notice to be taken of Hans,--it is clear that if this is a
portrait-group either it was painted when the boys were actually older,
or the younger had already given some astonishing proof of that precocity
which his early works display; for in this group the younger boy cannot
be more than eight or nine years old.

Hans Holbein the Elder, who stands here with his long brown hair and
beard falling over his fur gown, was a citizen of Augsburg, living for
a while in the same street with the honoured Augsburg painter, Hans
Burgkmair, and occasionally working with him on large commissions. That
he was a native of Augsburg, and the son--as is generally believed--of
"Michel Holbain" (Augsburg commonly spelt _Holbein_ with an _a_),
leather-dresser--I myself cannot feel so sure as others do. There is no
documentary evidence to prove that the Michael Holbein of Augsburg ever
had a son, and there is both documentary and circumstantial evidence to
prove that the descendants of Hans Holbein the Elder claimed a different
origin. That a man was a "citizen," or burgher, of any town, of course
proves nothing. It was a period when painters especially learned their
trades and practised it in many centres. And this, when guilds were
all-powerful and no one could either join one without taking citizenship
with it, or pursue its calling in any given place without association
with the guild of that place, often involved a series of citizenships.
The elder Holbein was himself a burgher of Ulm at one time, if not of
other cities in which he worked.

But that Augsburg was his fixed home for the greater part of his life is
certain; and the rate-books show that after the leather-dresser had
disappeared from their register of residents in the retail business
quarter of the city, in the neighbourhood of the Lech canals, Hans
Holbein the Elder was, in 1494, a householder in this very place. For
some years the name of "Sigmund, his brother," is bracketed with his;
but about 1517 Sigmund Holbein established himself in Berne, where he
accumulated a very respectable competence, which, at his death in 1540,
he bequeathed to his "dear nephew, Hans Holbein, the painter," at that
time a citizen of Basel. Sigmund also was a painter, but no unquestioned
work of his is known.

There is nothing to show who was the wife of Sigmund Holbein's elder
brother, Hans. But by 1499 this elder Hans had either a child or
children mentioned with him (_sein kind_, applying equally to one or
more). In all probability this is the earliest discoverable record
of Hans Holbein the Younger, and his elder brother Ambrose. In all
probability, too, Hans was then about two years old, and "Prosy" a year
or two older. At one time it was vaguely thought that the elder Hans had
three sons; and Prosy, or "Brosie," as it was sometimes written, got
converted into a "Bruno" Holbein. But no vestige of an actual Bruno is
to be found. And as Ambrose Holbein's trail, whether in rate-books or
art-records, utterly vanishes after 1519, it will be seen that for the
most part of the younger Holbein's life he had no brother. Hence it is
easy to understand how his uncle Sigmund's Will speaks only of "my dear

Hans the elder lived far on in his younger son's life. His works attest
that he had talents and ideals of no mean order. But I do not propose
to enter here upon the vexed question as to how far the "Renaissance"
characteristics of the later works attributed to his hand are his own or
his son's. Learned and exhaustive arguments have by turns consigned the
best of these works to the father, to the son, and back again to the
father. In at least one instance of high authority the same writer has,
at different periods, held a brief for both sides and for opposite
opinions! In this connection, as on the battlefield of some of the
son's greatest paintings, the single-minded student of Holbein may not
unprofitably draw three conclusions from the copious literature on the
subject:--First, that a working hypothesis is not of necessity the right
one; secondly, that in the matter of his pronouncements the critical
expert also may occasionally be regarded as

   _Un animal qui s'habille, déshabille et babille toujours;_

and thirdly, that in default of incontestable documentary proofs the
modest "so far as I have been able to discover" of Holbein's first
biographer, Van Mander, is a capital anchor to windward, and is at
any rate preferable to driving forth upon the howling waters of
Classification, like Constance upon the Sea of Greece, "Alle sterelesse,
God wot."

But my chief reason for not pursuing the Protean phantom of Holbein's
Augsburg period is that,--apart from my own disagreement with many
accepted views about the works it includes, and the utter lack of
data or determining any position irrefutably,--it is comparatively
unimportant to the purpose of this little book. For wherever the younger
painter was born,--whether at Augsburg or Ulm or elsewhere,--and
whatever I believe to be his rightful claim to such paintings as the St.
Elizabeth and St. Barbara of the St. Sebastian altar-piece at Munich,
Fame, like Van Mander, has rightly written him down Holbein

It is true that his father's brushes were his alphabet. It may be true,
though I doubt it, that his father's teaching was his only technical
school. But if he was, as to the last he gloried in being, the child of
the Old Period, he was much more truly the immediate pupil of the Van
Eycks than of his father's irresolute ideals; while Basel was his
university. And whatever may have been his debt to those childish years
when the little Iulus followed his father with trembling steps, his
debt to Basel was immensely greater. The door-sill of Johann Froben's
printing-house was the threshold of his earthly immortality.

When he turned his back on the low-vaulted years of Augsburg, it was
because for him also the time was ripe. The Old Period had cast his
genius; the New was to expand it to new powers and purposes.

               _Still, as the spiral grew,
   He left the past year's dwelling for the new;
   Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
                Built up its idle door,
   Stretch'd in his last-found home and knew the old no more._

       *       *       *       *       *

It may easily have been the elder Hans' continuous troubles, whether due
to his fault or his misfortune it is idle now to inquire, which made his
sons leave Augsburg. Certain it is that he but escaped from the clutches
of one suit for debt after another in order to tumble into some fresh
disaster of the sort, until his own brother Sigmund appears among his
exasperated creditors. After 1524 Hans Holbein the Elder vanishes from
the records. Probably, therefore, it was at about this date that he
paid,--Heaven and himself only knowing how willingly,--the one debt
which every man pays at the last.

At all events his sons did leave Augsburg about 1514; or, at any rate,
Hans did, since there is a naïve little Virgin and Child in the Basel
Museum, dated 1514, which must have been painted in the neighbourhood of
Constance in this year,--probably for the village church where it was
discovered. As everything points to the conclusion that Holbein was born
in 1497, he would have been some seventeen years old at this time, and
"Prosy" eighteen or nineteen. Substantially, therefore, they must have
looked pretty much as in the drawing which their father had made of them
three years before; that precious drawing in silver-point which is now
in the Berlin Collection (Plate 2). Over the elder, still with the curly
locks of the group in the "St. Paul Basilica," is written _Prosy_; over
the younger, _Hanns_. The age of the latter, fourteen, may still be
deciphered above his portrait, but that of Ambrose has quite vanished.
Between the two is the family name, written in Augsburg fashion,
Holbain. At the top of the sheet stands the year of the drawing, almost
illegible, but believed to be 1511.

 Illustration: PLATE 2

 [_Drawn by their father, Hans Holbein the elder_]
 _Silver-point. Berlin Cabinet_

Of the elder brother all that is certainly known may be said here once
for all. In 1517 he entered the Painters' Guild at Basel, where he is
called "Ambrosius Holbein, citizen of Augsburg." He made a number of
designs for wood-engraving, title-pages, and ornaments, for the printers
of Basel--all of fair merit. He may also have worked in the studio of
Hans Herbster, a Basel painter of considerable note. Herbster's portrait
in oils, long held to be a fine work of the younger brother,--now that
it has passed from the Earl of Northbrook's collection to that of the
Basel Museum, is attributed to Ambrose Holbein. But little else is known
of him; and after 1519, as has been said, the absence of any record of
him among the living suggests that he died in that year.

In the late summer of 1515 came that momentous trifle which has for ever
linked the name of young Hans Holbein with that of Erasmus. Whether, as
some say, the scholar gave him the order, or, as seems more likely, some
friend of both had the copy, now in the Basel Museum, on the margins of
which the lad drew his spirited pen-and-ink sketches,--it is on record
that they were made before the end of December, and that Erasmus himself
was delighted with their wit and vigour. And, in truth, they are
exceedingly clever, both in the art with which a few strokes suggest a
picture, and in that by which the picture emphasises every telling point
in the satire. But a great deal too much has been built upon both the
satire and the sketches; a great deal, also, falsely built upon them.

They have been made to do duty, in default of all genuine proofs, as
supports to the theory by which Protestant writers have claimed both
Erasmus and Holbein as followers of Luther in their hearts, without
sufficient courage or zeal to declare themselves such. I confess that,
though myself no less ardent as a Protestant than as an admirer of
Holbein, I cannot, for the life of me, see any justification for either
the claim or its implied charge of timorousness.

Erasmus's _Praise of Folly_--like so many a paradox started as a
joke,--had no notion of being serious at all until it was seriously
attacked. Some four years before its illustrations riveted the name of a
stripling artist to that of the world-renowned scholar, Erasmus had
fallen ill while a guest in the sunny Bucklersbury home where three tiny
daughters and a baby son were the darlings of Sir Thomas More and his
wife. To beguile the tedium of convalescence the invalid had scribbled
off a jeu d'esprit, with its punning play on More's name, _Encomium
Moriæ_, in which every theme for laughter, in a far from squeamish day,
was collected under that title. Read aloud to More and his friends, it
was declared much too good to be limited to private circulation; and
accordingly, with some revision and expansion, it was printed. That it
scourged with its mockery those things in both Church and State which
Erasmus and More and many another fervent Churchman hated,--such as the
crying evils which called aloud for reformation in the highest places,
and above all, that it lashed the detested friars whom the best churchmen
most loathed,--these things were foregone conclusions in such a
composition. But a laugh, even a satirical laugh, at the expense of
excrescences or follies in one's camp, is a very far cry from going over
to its foes. As a huge joke Erasmus wrote the _Praise of Folly_; as such
More and all his circle lauded it; as such Froben reprinted it; and as
such young Holbein pointed all its laughing gibes.

And it was part and parcel of the joke that he launched his own sly
arrow at the author himself. Erasmus could but laugh at the adroitness
with which the young man from Augsburg had drawn a reverend scholar
writing away at his desk, among the votaries of Folly, and written
_Erasmus_ over his head. But it was hardly to be expected that he should
altogether relish the witty implication, or the presumption of the
unknown painter who had ventured to make it. Nor did he. Turning over a
page he also contrived to turn the laugh yet once again, this time
against the too-presuming artist. Finding, perhaps, the coarsest of the
sketches, one in keeping with the "fat and splendid pig from the drove
of Epicurus," he in his turn wrote the name of _Holbein_ above the
wanton boor at his carousals. It was a reprisal not more delicate than
the spirit with which subjects too sacred to have been named in the same
breath with Folly,--the very words of our Lord Himself,--had been
dragged into such company. But though it, too, was a joke, this little
slap of wounded amour propre has found writers to draw from it an entire
theory that Holbein led a life of debauchery!

Yet even this feat of deduction is surpassed by that which argues that
because Erasmus and Holbein lashed bad prelates and vicious monks with
satire, therefore they detested the whole hierarchy of Rome and loathed
all monks, good or bad. "Erasmus laid the egg which Luther hatched" is
the oft-repeated cry; forgetting or ignoring the plain fact that Erasmus
eyed the Lutheran egg with no little mistrust in its shell and with
unequivocal disgust in its full-feathered development. "What connection
have I with Luther," he writes some three years after Holbein illustrated
Stultitia's worshippers, "or what recompense have I to expect from him
that I should join with him to oppose the Church of Rome, which I take
to be the true part of the Church Catholic, or to oppose the Roman
Pontiff who is the head of the Catholic Church? I am not so impious as
to dissent from the Church nor so ungrateful as to dissent from Leo,
from whom I have received uncommon favour and indulgence."

As to Holbein's "Protestant sympathies"--using the name for the whole
Lutheran movement in which Protestantism had its rise,--the assertions
are even less grounded in fact, if that be possible. If he had it not
already in his heart, through Erasmus and Amerbach and Froben and More
and every other great influence to which he yielded himself at all, he
early acquired a deep and devout sense of the need of reform _within_
the Church. Like all these lifelong friends, he wanted to see the Church
of Rome return to her purer days and cast off the corruptions of a
profligate idleness. Like them he couched his lance against the unworthy
priest, the gluttonous or licentious monk, the wolves in sheep's clothing
that were destroying the fold from within. Like them, as they re-echoed
Colet--the saintly Dean of St. Paul's,--he passionately favoured the
translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular and placing them in
the hands, or at any rate bringing them to the familiar knowledge, of
peasant as well as prelate. But surely one must know very little of the
teachings of the stoutest Churchmen of Holbein's day and acquaintance
not to know also that they encouraged if they did not plant these
opinions in his mind.

"Dürer's woodcuts and engravings, especially his various scenes from the
Passion," writes even Woltmann, the biographer to whom every student of
Holbein owes so grateful a debt, "had prepared the soil among the people
for Luther's translation of the Bible. Holbein's pictures from the Old
Testament followed in their wake, and helped forward the work." Yet it
seems difficult to suppose that Woltmann could have been ignorant of
the facts of the case. So far were Holbein's, or any other artist's,
Bible illustrations or Bible pictures from arguing a "Lutheran" monopoly
in the vernacular Bible, that in Germany alone there were fifteen
translated and illustrated editions of the Bible before Luther's
appeared; and of these fifteen some half-dozen were published before
Luther was born. Quentell, at Cologne, for instance, published a famous
translation with exceedingly good woodcuts in 1480,--three years before
Luther's birth. While some nine years before Quentell's German
translation, the Abbot Niccolo Malermi published his _Biblia Vulgare_ in
the Italian vernacular, which went through twenty editions in less than
a century: one of which,--brought out at Venice in 1490 by the Giunta
Brothers,--was illustrated by woodcuts of the greatest beauty. So
widespread was the demand for this "Malermi Bible" that another edition,
with new illustrations of almost equal merit, was produced at Venice in
1493, by the printer known as _Anima Mia_. All of these were vernacular
Bibles; all illustrated; all widely known throughout Italy and Germany
before Holbein was born or Luther was in his tenth year. And certainly
it has not yet been suggested by the most rabid Protestantism that
either these or any of the many other illustrated vernacular Bibles
printed long before Luther's great translation,--a translation with a
special claim to immortality because it may be said to have set the
standard for modern German,--were anything but Roman Catholic Bibles.
They were translated and illustrated in behalf of no doctrine which
Protestantism does not hold in common with the Church of Rome.

To lose hold of these things, to lose sight of the true attitude of
Holbein in his Bible woodcuts and his "Images of Death," or of either
Erasmus or Holbein in their satires on the flagrant abuses within their
Church, and their unwavering devotion to that Church,--is to deliberately
throw away the clue to the most vital qualities in the work of either,
and to the whole course and character of Holbein himself, no less than
to that of his lifelong friend and benefactor.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1515 the young painter who had come to Basel to better his fortunes
painted a table for Hans Bär's wedding. The bridegroom marched away,
carrying the Basel colours, to the bloody field of Marignano (or
Melegnano) in this same year, and never came back to sit with his
smiling bride around Holbein's most amusing conceits--where "Saint
Nobody" was depicted among all the catastrophes of which he is the
scapegoat, and a few ordinary trifles--a letter, a pair of spectacles,
etc.--were marvellously represented, as if dropped by chance above the
painted decorations, so that people were always attempting to pick them
up. But Hans Bär's sister had been the first wife of a certain brave
comrade--Meyer "of the Hare," who did come back and played an important
part in young Holbein's career. Long lost among forgotten rubbish, Hans
Bär's table has been unearthed, and is now preserved in the town library
at Zurich.

But although Holbein had got his foot on the ladder of fame in this
year's beginning of his connection with Froben, he was as yet very
thankful to accept any commission, however humble. And as a human
document there is a touch of peculiar, almost pathetic interest about
the Schoolmaster's Signboard preserved by Bonifacius Amerbach, and now
with his collection in the Basel Museum (Plate 3). It is a simple thing,
with no pretension to a place among "works of art"--this bit of flotsam
from 1516, when it was painted. Originally the two views, the Infant
Class and the Adult Class, were on opposite sides of the sign; but they
have been carefully split apart so as to be seen side by side. In the
one is the quaint but usual Dame's School of the period; in the other
the public is informed how the adults of Basel may retrieve the lack of
such early opportunities. The inscription above each sets forth how
whosoever wishes to do so can be taught to read and write correctly, and
be furnished with all the essentials of a decent education at a very
moderate cost; "children on the usual terms." And there is a delightful
clause to say that "if anyone is too dull-witted to learn at all, no
payment will be accepted, be it Burger or Apprentice, Wife or Maid."

Somehow, looking at the young fellow at the right of the table, in the
Adult Class, sitting facing the anxious schoolmaster, with his own brow
all furrowed by the effort to follow him and his mouth doggedly set to
succeed,--while the late, low sun of a summer afternoon streams in
through the leaded window,--one muses on the chance that so may the young
painter from Augsburg, now but nineteen, himself have sat upon this very
bench and leaned across this very table, in a like determination to
widen out his small store of book-learning. He could have had little
opportunity to do so in the ever-shifting, bailiff-haunted home of his
boyhood. And somewhere he certainly learned to write quite as well as
even the average gentleman of his day; witness the notes on his

  Illustration: PLATE 3
  _Oils. Basel Museum_

Somewhere, too, and no later than these first Basel years, he acquired
the power to read and appreciate even the niceties of Latin, though
he probably could not have done more than make these out to his own
satisfaction. All his work of illustration is too original, too
spontaneous, too full of flashes of subtle personal sympathy with the
text, to have emanated from an interpreter, or been dictated by another
mind than his own. And this very Signboard may have paid for lessons
which he could not otherwise afford. For if there is any force in
circumstantial evidence it is certain that Holbein not only wrote,
but read and pondered and thought for himself in these years when
he doubtless had many more hours of leisure than he desired, from a
financial standpoint.

And the greatest pages of his autobiography, written with his brush,
will be only so many childish rebuses if we forget what astounding pages
of History and Argument were turned before him. In Augsburg he had seen
the Emperor Maximilian riding in state more than once, and heard much
talk about that Emperor's interests and schemes and fears; and of
thrones and battlefields engaged with or against these. Augsburg was in
closest ties of commerce with Venice; and the tides of many a tremendous
issue of civilisation rolled to and fro through the gates of the Free
Swabian City.

Child and lad, his was a precocious intelligence; and it had been fed
upon meat for strong men. He had heard of Alexander VI.'s colossal
infamies, and those of Cæsar Borgia as well; and of the kingdoms ranging
to this or that standard after the death of Pope and Prince. He was nine
years old then. Old enough, too, to drink in the wonderful hero-tales
of one Christopher Columbus of Genoa, whose fame was running through
the Whispering Gallery of Europe, while he himself lay dying at
Valladolid--ill, heartbroken, poor, disgraced,--yet proudly confident
that he had demonstrated, past all denial, the truth of his own
conviction, and touched the shores of Cathay, sailing westward from
Spain. Da Gama, Vespucci, Balboa, Magellan,--theirs were indeed names
and deeds to set the heart of youth leaping, between its cradle and its
twenty-fifth year.

Holbein was twelve when Augsburg heard that England had a young king,
whom it crowned as Henry VIII. He was setting out from his home, such as
it was, to fight his own boyish battle of Life, when the news spread of
Flodden's Field. None of these things would let such an one as he was
rest content to apprehend them as a yokel. From either the honest dominie
of the Signboard or some other, we may be sure he sought the means to
read and digest them for himself. And if he learnt some smattering of
the geography of the earth and the heavens after the crude notions of
an older day, he could have done no other, at that time, in the most
enlightened Universities. Ptolemy's _Geographia_ was still the text-book,
and the so-called "Ptolemaic Theory" still the astronomical creed of
scholars. Copernicus was, indeed, a man of forty when Holbein was
painting this Signboard in 1516. But Copernicus was still interluding
the active duties of Frauenburg's highly successful governor,
tax-collector, judge, and vicar-general,--to say nothing of his
brilliant essays on finance,--with those studies in his watch-tower
which were to revolutionise the astronomical conceptions of twenty
centuries and wheel the Earth around the Sun instead of the Sun around
the Earth. But his system was not actually published until its author
was on his death-bed, in the year of Holbein's own death. So that these
stupendous new ideas were only the unpublished rumours and discussions
of circles like that of Froben and Erasmus, when Holbein first entered

But it is no insignificant sidelight on the history of this circle and
this period to recall that the subversive theories of Copernicus,--far
as even he was from anticipating how a Kepler and a Newton should one
day shatter the "Crystalline Spheres," and relegate to the dustheap of
antiquity the "Epicycles," to which he still clung,--had their only
generous hearing from influential churchmen of Rome. Luther recoiled
from them as the blasphemies of "an arrogant fool"; and even Melanchthon
urged that they should be "suppressed by the secular arm." Nor let it be
forgotten that these matters were never a far cry from those Basel
printing-presses where the greatest master-printers were themselves
thorough and eager scholars; "Men of Letters," in the noblest sense of
the word. And the discussion of all these high concerns of history and
letters was as much a part of the daily life surging around their
printing-presses as the roar of the Rhine was in the air of Basel.

  Illustration: PLATE 4
  _Oils. Basel Museum_

  Illustration: PLATE 5
  _Oils. Basel Museum_

As has been said, the sister of that Hans Bär for whom Holbein painted
the "St. Nobody" table had been the first wife, Magdalena Bär--a widow
with one daughter, when she married him--of Jacob Meyer,[2] "of the
Hare" (_zum Hasen_). Magdalena died in 1511, and about 1512 Meyer zum
Hasen married Dorothea Kannegiesser. And now in 1516, a memorable year
to Holbein on account of this influential patron, the young stranger was
commissioned to paint the portraits of Meyer (Plate 4) and his second
wife, Dorothea (Plate 5). These oil paintings, and the drawings for
them, are now in the Basel Museum. And no one can examine them,
remembering that the painter was but nineteen, without echoing the
exclamation of a brilliant French writer: "Holbein ira beaucoup plus
loin dans son art, mais déjà il est superbe." These warm translucent
browns are instinct with life and beauty.

Against the rich Renaissance architecture and the blue of the sky-vista
the massive head of Meyer and the blonde one of his young wife,--the
latter so expressive of half-proud, half-shy consciousness,--stand out
in wonderful vigour. From the scarlet cap on his thickly curling
brown hair to the piece of money between his thumb and finger, the
Burgomaster's picture is a virile and masterly portrait. And just as
forcefully is the charm of his pretty wife,--with all her bravery
of scarlet frock, gold embroidery, head-dress and chains,--her own
individual charm. They are both as much themselves in this fine
architectural setting as in their own good house "of the Hare" which
adjoined the rising glories of the new Renaissance "Council Hall"
(_Rathaus_) in which Meyer was to preside so often.

In 1516 he had just been elected Mayor for the first time; but after
this he had many consecutive re-elections in the alternate years which
permitted this. For no burgomaster could hold office for two years in
actual succession. Previous to being Mayor he had been an eminent
personage as master of the guilds. And both before and after his
mayoralty he was a distinguished soldier,--rising from ensign to captain
in the Basel contingent which served at different times among the
Auxiliaries of France and of the Pope.

But what made this election of 1516 a civic epoch was that Meyer zum
Hasen (there were many unrelated Meyers in Basel, and two among
Holbein's patrons, who must be carefully distinguished according to the
name of the house each occupied) was the first Burgomaster ever elected
in this city from below the knightly rank. While the piece of money in his
hand, far from fulfilling the absurd purpose sometimes suggested,--that
of showing his claim to wealth!--marks another civic event of this year.
For it was on the 10th of January, 1516, that the Emperor Maximilian had
just issued the Charter which gave to Basel the right to mint her own
gold coins. In the painting the pose of Meyer's right hand has been
altered, and the position which Holbein originally gave it can still be
made out. The monogram and date are on the background.

In accordance with his invariable rule for portraits in oils, Holbein
first made a careful drawing of each head on the same scale as the
finished picture, carrying it out with great freedom but at the same
time with astonishing care and finish. So that his studies for portraits
are themselves works of art, sometimes invested with even more spirit
than the oil painting, which was never made direct from the living
model,--at any rate, until ready for the finishing touches. Drawn with
a point which could give a line as bold or as almost impalpable as he
wished, and modelled to the very texture of the surfaces, the carnations
are so sufficiently indicated or rendered with red chalk as to serve
every purpose. Sometimes notes are also added. Thus in the upper corner
of the drawing for Meyer's head the artist has noted "eyebrows lighter
than the hair" in his microscopic yet firm writing.

With these fine portraits, painted as if united by the same architectural
background, Holbein began a friendship of many years. After some four
centuries it is not possible to produce written records of such ties
except in occasional corroborative details. But neither is it possible
to mistake the painted records of repeated commissions. While as the
lifelong leader of the Catholic party in Basel, it was natural that
Meyer zum Hasen should have much in common with a painter who all his
life held firmly to his friendships with the most conspicuous champions
of that party.

Johann Froben was another of these; and from 1515 until Froben's death
eleven years later Holbein had more and more to do for this printer.
Occasionally, too, he drew for other Basel printers; but not often. The
eighty-two sketches on the margins of that priceless copy of the _Praise
of Folly_, which Basel preserves in her Museum, had been suited to their
company. Admirable, though unequal, as are their merits, they _are_
sketches, whose chief beauty is their happy spontaneity. Such things are
among the trifles of art, and are not to be put into the scales at all
with the finished perfection of his serious designs for wood engraving.
These were drawn on the block; and even these cannot properly represent
the drawing itself except when cut by some such master hand as his own.
Since in preparing the design for printing the background is cut away,
leaving the composition itself in lines of relief,--it follows that
everything, so far as the reproduction is concerned, must depend upon
the cleanness and delicacy of the actual cutting. A clouded eye, a
fumbling touch, and the most ethereal idea becomes its travesty--the
purest line debased. Hence the necessity for taking the knife into
consideration in judging such work.

This is not the place for any fraction of that hot debate which Kugler
ironically styles "the great question of the sixteenth century"; the
debate as to whether Holbein himself did or did not cut any of his own
blocks. Assuredly he could do so. The exquisite adjustment of every
line to its final purpose, the masterly understanding of the proper
limitations and field of every effect, all prove that he had an unerring
knowledge of the craft no less than of the art of Illustration. But in
his day that craft, like every other, had its own guild; and it would
not have been likely to tolerate any intrusion on its rights.

We know, too, that those woodcuts which most attest Holbein's genius
were engraved by that mysterious "Hans Lützelburger, form-cutter, called
Franck" (_Hans Lützelburger, Formschnider, genannt Franck_), who still
remains, after all the researches of enthusiastic admirers, a hand and a
name, and beyond this--nothing. But it is when Holbein's designs are
engraved with Lützelburger's astonishingly beautiful cutting that we can
appreciate how wonderful was the design itself. To compare these fairy
pictures with the painter's large cartoons is to get some conception of
the arc his powers described. It seems incredible that the same hand
could hang an equal majesty on the wall of a tiny shell and on that of a
king's palace, and with equal justness of eye. Yet it is done. He will
ride a donkey or an elephant with the like mastery; but you will never
find Holbein saddling the donkey with a howdah.

It is not always possible to subscribe to Ruskin's flowing judgments;
but I gratefully borrow the one with which he sums up thus, in a lecture
on wood-engraving: Holbein does not give many gradations of light, the
speaker says, "but not because Holbein cannot give chiaroscuro if he
chooses. He is twenty times a stronger master of it than Rembrandt; but
therefore he knows exactly when and how to use it, and that wood-engraving
is not the proper means for it. The quantity of it which is needful for
his story he will give, and that with an unrivalled subtlety."

And the student of Holbein's art can but feel that Ruskin has here
touched upon a characteristic of the painter's peculiar power in every
phase of it;--the power to be Cæsar within himself; to say to his hand,
"thus far," to say to his fancy, "no farther." Those who have come to
know Holbein something more than superficially, or as a mere maker of
portraits, will smile at the dictum of some very recent "authority"
which pronounces him wanting in imagination; or at the hasty conclusion
that what he _would_ not, that he could not.

He has given us, for instance, no animal paintings or landscapes pure
and simple, or, at least, none such have come down to us. And yet what
gems of landscape he has touched into his backgrounds here and there!
And what drawings of animal life he made! There are two, for instance,
in the Basel Museum which could not be surpassed; studies in silver-point
and water-colours of lambs and a bat outstretched. No reproduction could
give the exquisite texture of the bat's wings, the wandering red veins,
the almost diaphanous membrane, the furry body,--a miracle of patience
and softness. It is all purest Nature. Like Topsy one can but "'spec' it
growed" rather than was created.

And they are not only beautiful in themselves but full of living
meanings. Many an hour the young painter enjoyed while he made such
studies as his lambs on the pleasant slopes about Basel; the mountains
scalloping the horizon, and all the sweet fresh winds vocal with
tinkling bells or the chant of the deep-throated Rhine. Many of "the
long, long thoughts" of youth,--those thoughts that ring like happy
bells or sweep like rushing rivers, kept him company as he laid these
delicate strokes and washes that seem to exhale the very breath of
morning across four hundred years.

In the next year after painting the portraits of Meyer and his wife
there is a sudden break in the painter's story which has always puzzled
his biographers. After such a brilliant start in Basel it is perplexing
to find the young man, instead of proceeding to join the Painters' Guild
and take the necessary citizenship, suddenly turn his back on all these
encouragements and leave the town for a long absence and remote journeys.
As will be seen when we come to consider the story of Holbein's married
life, however, I have a theory that the influence which sent him south
in such an unexpected fashion was apart from professional affairs.

Whether this is a good shot or no, certain it is that he did now go far
south,--as distances were in those days; and that, paying his way as he
went by his brush, he went first to Lucerne, where the evidence goes to
show that he apparently thought of settling instead of at Basel,--and
then on beyond it. And it seems highly probable that at this time he
pushed on over the Alps and made his way into Italy,--already the Mecca
of every artist.

Here he could not now, in 1517, have hoped to see either Bramante or
Leonardo da Vinci in person. The former had died at Rome two years
before; but, without getting even as far as Pavia, Milan could show some
splendid monuments to his sojourn within her walls; characteristic
examples of that architecture of the closing fifteenth century which
Holbein loved as Bramante himself. Leonardo was now in France; but in
the refectory of the Santa Maria Monastery was his immortal, though,
alas! not imperishable, masterpiece--"The Last Supper." Time had not
yet taught Leonardo, much less Holbein, the fleeting nature of mural
oil-painting; the only so-called "fresco" painting which the latter ever
attempted, so far as is known. But the great Supper was still glowing in
all the splendour of its original painting, and would impress itself
indelibly on an eye such as Holbein's. In more than one cathedral, too,
as he wandered in such a holiday, he would have noted how Mantegna had
made its architecture the background for his own individual genius.

At any rate each of these, somehow and somewhere, set its own seal upon
the reverent heart of Holbein at about this time. Whether through their
original works or copies of them,--already familiar to Augsburg as
well as Lucerne,--the lad sat humbly at the feet of both Leonardo and
Mantegna. By the first, beside many a loftier lesson, he was confirmed
and strengthened in his native respect for accurate studies of the living
world around him. From the second he learned a still deeper scorn of
"pretty" art. Yet though he sat at their feet, it was as no servile
disciple. He would fain be taught by them; fain follow them in all
humility and frankness. But it was in order to expand his own powers,
not to surrender them; to speak his own thoughts the better, not theirs,
nor another's.

And, in any event, on such a journey Lucerne must come first. And that
he thought of making some long stay here when he returned is shown
by his having joined in this year 1517, the Guild of St. Luke, the
Painters' Guild of Lucerne, then but newly organised. "Master Hans
Holbein has given one Gulden," reads the old entry. Two other items of
this visit give us glimpses of its flesh-and-blood realities, perhaps of
its unrest. The first, that he also joined a local company of Archers,
the Militia of his day, seems to bring his living footfall very close.
A resonant, manly, wholesome footfall it is, too! This broad-shouldered
young fellow is as ready to draw a good stout bow among mountain-marksmen
as a lamb among its daffodils. The second item makes it still clearer
that he had other elements as well as the pastoral in his blood. On the
10th of December he got himself fined for his share in a street-scrimmage,
where he would seem to have decidedly preferred the livelier to the
"better part" of valour.

And then he would appear to have shaken the dust, or more likely the
snows, of Lucerne off his feet for the road to Italy, if not for Italy
itself. Whatever his objective, he got, at any rate, well on toward the
Pass of the St. Gothard. The scanty clues of such works as have remained
on record prove that he reached Altdorf. But there the actual trail is
altogether lost. If he spent the entire interval brush in hand, or
if--as I believe--he treated himself to a bit of a holiday beyond the
Alps, can be but a guess in the dark.

By this time the New Year of 1518, then falling in March, could not have
been far off, before or behind him. And in 1518 Holbein executed the
commission which must have been the envy of every local artist. Jacob
von Hertenstein, Burgomaster of Lucerne, had now got his fine new house
ready for decoration; and it was to Holbein that he gave the splendid
commission to decorate it to his fancy,--the interior as well as the

And a renowned triumph the painter made of it; a triumph such as,
perhaps, no other artist north of Italy could then have equalled. It is
idle now to dwell upon the religious subjects of one room, the genre
paintings in another, the battle scenes of a third, and so on through
those five famous rooms which were still in existence and fair
preservation so late as 1824, but are now for ever lost; to say nothing
of the painted Renaissance architecture and the historic legends which
looked like solid realities when the façade was studied. But "Mizraim is
become merchandise"; and all that is now left of what should have been a
treasured and priceless heirloom is but a monument to the shame of that
citizen, a banker, who could condemn such a thing to destruction as
indifferently as if it had been a cowshed, and to the shame of the
municipality which, at any cost, did not prevent it. Some hasty
sketches--due to individual enterprise and a sense of the dignity of
Holbein's fame--an original drawing for one of the façade-paintings,
and a few fragments of the interior paintings, which still show
themselves, by chance, in the banker's _stable wall_--these are all that
remain to speak of what must have been the enthusiastic labour of the
greater part of Holbein's twenty-first year!




  _Holbein Basiliensis_--Enters the Painters' Guild--Bonifacius Amerbach
  and his portrait--The Last Supper and its Judas--The so-called
  "Fountain of Life" at Lisbon--Genius for design and symbolism in
  architecture--Versatility, humour, fighting scenes--Holbein becomes a
  citizen and marries--Basel in 1519--Froben's circle--Tremendous events
  and issues of the time--Holbein's religious works--The Nativity and
  Adoration at Freiburg--Hans Oberriedt--The Basel Passion in eight
  panels--Passion Drawings--Christ in the tomb--Christ and Mary Magdalen
  at the door of the sepulchre--Rathaus wall-paintings--Birth of Holbein's
  eldest child--The Solothurn Madonna: its discovery and rescue--Holbein's
  wife and her portraits--Suggested solutions of some biographical
  enigmas--Title pages--Portraits of Erasmus--Journey to France, probably
  to Lyons and Avignon--Publishers and pictures of the so-called "Dance
  of Death"--Dorothea Offenburg as Venus and Laïs Corinthiaca--Triumph of
  the Protestant party--Holbein decides to leave Basel for a time--The
  Meyer-Madonna of Darmstadt and Dresden, and its portraits.

And now it is 1519, and with it the true Hour of Holbein's destiny is
striking. Take away the coming seven years and you will still have what
Holbein is too often thought to be only--a great portrait-painter. No
greater ever etched the soul of a man on his mask. His previous and his
after achievements would still amply justify the honour of centuries.
But add these seven years, from 1519 to 1526, and dull indeed must be
the intelligence that cannot recognise the great Master, without
qualification and in the light of any thoughtful comparison with the
very greatest.

His Basel career may be said to begin here; his earlier work furnishing
the Prologue. On the 25th September, 1519, when he was about
two-and-twenty, he joined the Basel Guild of Painters; that same "Guild
of Heaven" (_Zunft zum Himmel_) which his brother Ambrose had joined two
years earlier and from which he seems to have passed to the veritable
guild of Heaven at about this latter date.

And hardly is the ink dry upon the record of his membership than Holbein
painted one of the most beautiful of his portraits--that of Bonifacius
Amerbach (Plate 6). He stands beside a tree on which is hung an
inscription. Behind him is Holbein's favourite early background,--the
blue of the sky, here broken by the warm brown and green of the branch,
and the faint glimpse of far-away mountains. Under his soft cap, with
a cross for badge, his intensely gleaming blue eyes look out beneath
grave brows. The lips are softly yet firmly set; the mouth framed by the
sunny beard which repeats the red-brown of his hair. The black scholar's
gown, with its trimming of black fur, discloses his rich damask doublet
and white collar.

  Illustration: PLATE 6
 _Oils. Basel Museum_

Well may the inscription assert--above the signature, the name of the
sitter and the date 14th October, 1519--

  _"Though but a painted face I am not far removed from Life; but rather,
   By truthful lines, the noble image of my Possessor.
   As he accomplishes eight times three years, so faithfully in me also
   Is Nature's work proclaimed by the work of Art."_

For here in truth is a work of Nature which is no less a work of Art.

This is the Amerbach who began and inspired his son Basilius (so named
after Bonifacius's brother) to complete the Holbein Collection, which
the Basel Museum bought long afterwards. And such was the love of
both that they included, perhaps deliberately, much that has small
probability of claim to be Holbein's work. They would reject nothing
attributed to him; thinking a bushel of chaff well worth housing if it
might yield one genuine grain. And in view of these expressive facts, it
is hardly necessary to argue in behalf of the tradition that more than a
conventional friendship bound the two young men together,--printer's son
and painter's son, musician-scholar and scholar-painter, Churchman and
Churchman; the one twenty-four, the other twenty-two.

Bonifacius was the youngest of Johann Amerbach's three gifted sons. As
all the world knows, Johann had been also a scholar as well as a printer,
and great in both capacities. The most eminent scholars of his day
gravitated as naturally to this noble personality as they afterwards did
to that of his protégé and successor, Johann Froben. He had educated his
sons, too, to worthily continue his life-work and maintain his devout
principles. Bonifacius was the darling of more than one heart not given
to softness. He had been more the friend than the pupil of Ulrich Zasius
at the University of Freiburg, before he went to Avignon to complete his
legal studies under Alciat. Five years after this portrait was painted
he became Professor of Law in the Basel University. "I am ready to die,"
writes Erasmus of him, "when I shall have seen any young man purer or
kinder or more sincere than this one."

Very possibly it was for Bonifacius himself that Holbein painted his own
portrait about this time (Plate 1, frontispiece). It is a worthy mate,
at all events. In the Amerbach Catalogue it was simply called "Holbein's
counterfeit, in dry colour" (_ein conterfehung Holbein's mit trocken
farben_); the frame, too, was catalogued, though the painting was kept
in a cabinet separately when the Basel Museum acquired it with the

The vigour and finish of this portrait on vellum, done in crayons or
body-colour, make it a gem of the first water. The drawing was done in
black chalk, and the tints have been rubbed in with coloured crayons or
given with the point where lines of colour were required. The work has
the delicacy of a water-colour and the strength of oils. The broad,
soft, red hat, though so fine a bit of colour, is clearly worn as part
of a simple everyday habit. There is no suggestion of studying for
effect, or even caring at all about it. He wears his hat pulled soberly
down over his brown hair exactly as when he wore it thus about the
business of the day. The plastic modelling of the puckered brow and
the mobile mouth is beautifully indicated. The bluish tone left by the
razor is just hinted. In his drab coat with its black velvet bands, with
his shirt, on which the high lights have been applied, slightly open at
the throat, Holbein himself seems to stand before one as in life.

Among the "early works" of the Amerbach Catalogue there is one which
shows strong traces of Leonardo's and even more of Mantegna's influence
on him at this time. It is a Last Supper, painted in oils on wood. But
it was so mutilated in the iconoclastic fury of 1529, and has been so
cobbled, re-broken, re-set, and "restored" generally, that it can no
longer be called Holbein's work without many reservations. There is also
another Last Supper, one of a coarsely painted set on canvas, which
is attributed to him on much more doubtful grounds, to judge by the
composition and colouring. Myself I should be inclined to see the
inferior hand of Ambrose, Hans the elder, or perhaps even Sigmund
Holbein in these, if they are genuine Holbein works at all.

But there are still to be seen the traces of his own hand and mind in
the Last Supper in oils on wood. St. John's head must originally have
been very beautiful; very manly, too,--dark with sudden anguish and
recoil. There is a separate head of St. John, in oils, in the same
collection, which shows how fixed was this noble originality of type in
Holbein's conception of "the beloved apostle." But it is in Judas that
the patient student will find, perhaps, most of Holbein's peculiar cast
of thought, when once the initial repulsion is overcome.

By a very natural arrangement he is brought into the immediate foreground
and sits there, already isolated, already damned, in such a torment
of body and soul as haunts the spectator who has had the courage to
reconsider the dictum of authorities who call him "a Jew of frightful
vulgarity." Frightful he may be; but it is a strange judgment which can
find him vulgar. Unfortunately, the painting is no longer in a condition
to justify reproduction; but such as study this yellow-robed, emaciated,
shivering, fever-consumed Judas will, I venture to assert, find food for
thought in it even under all the injuries the work has undergone.

It is a demon-driven soul if ever there was one. He is in the very act
of springing to his feet and rushing away anywhere, anywhere out of this
Presence;--no more concerned about his money-bag than about the food he
loathes. Thirty pieces of silver! If the priests have lied, if this is
in very truth the Messiah his heart still half believes Him, will thirty
pieces of silver buy his soul from the Avenger? Is there time still to
escape? What if he break the promise given when he was over-persuaded in
the market-place the other day? But did not the High Priest himself
declare that this is Beelzebub in person,--this fair, false, dear,--oh!
still too dear Illusion? Up! Let him be gone out of this!--from the
sound of that Voice, from the sight of that Face, get the thing over and
done, done--done one way or another! If God's work, as the priests
swear, well and good. He will have earned the pity of God Himself. If
the devil's, as his heart whispers, well, too! Let him take his price
and buy himself a rope long enough to house his soul in any Hell, rather
than sit on in this one! It is all painted, or was once; all written on
that sunken cheek, that matted hair and clammy brow; in that cavernous
socket, that eye of lurid despair; on the whole anatomy of a lost soul.
The hand that did it was very young, very immature; but it had the youth
and the immaturity of a Master.

There is another and a very different work, an oil painting, in the
Royal Collection at Lisbon, signed IOANNES HOLBEIN FECIT 1519, which,
if by the younger Hans, would almost put the question as to whether
the painter knew the landscapes of Italy, beyond doubt; so southern is
the type of its background. The work, however, has been rejected by
Woltmann, on the strength of an old photograph not quite perfect. He
held the signature to be spurious, and attributed the picture to the
school of Gerard David. And he gave to the work the name by which it is
now generally styled in English works: "The Fountain of Life" (_Der
Brunnen des Lebens_[3]). He did so from the inscription within the rim
of the well immediately in the foreground; but a literal translation of
this inscription, PVTEVS AQVARVM VIVENCIVM, is, I think, to be
preferred: _The Well of Living Waters_.

The majority of those competent to form a judgment in such matters are
inclined to attribute the work to Hans Holbein the Elder, who did not
die until some years later, and who made use of a very similar form of
signature. And for myself I find it hard to see how anyone familiar
with Hans the Younger could accept it as his work at any period of
his career; least of all at the date given in the signature. So that
equally whether Woltmann is right in believing the signature itself
spurious, or those are right who hold it to be the genuine signature of
Hans the Elder,--a more detailed description of the composition does not
fall within the scope of this little volume. But the whole matter is
most clearly set forth, and a very beautiful reproduction in colours
given of the painting itself, in Herr Seeman's article upon it, which
will be found in the appended List of References.

       *       *       *       *       *

Considerably before 1519, as has been said, Holbein had begun to
develop his special genius for Design, and to apply it to glass or
window-paintings, as well as to metal and wood-engravings. The beautiful
drawings, whether washed, or etched with the point, in chalks or Indian
ink, of which examples may be seen in almost every great collection,
private as well as public, that year after year were created by that
fertile brain and ever more masterly hand, constitute an Art in
themselves. And since so many (perhaps the greater number as well as the
greater in subject) of his paintings have perished, it is chiefly in his
drawings that the progression of his powers can be followed, or the
plane and scope of his imagination recognised at all. There is seldom
a date on them; but they will be found to date themselves pretty
accurately by certain features. In his earliest, for instance, that
defect of which mention has been made,--the short thick figures due
to the energy of his rebound from Gothic attenuation is a grave fault.
There is a Virgin and Child among his washed drawings for glass-paintings
in the Basel Museum, for example, which, when you cut it off at the
knees, is one of the most charming pictures of Mother and Child to be
found in any painter's treatment of this subject. And behind them is a
gem of landscape. Yet the whole, as it stands, is utterly marred by the
Virgin's dwarfed limbs. But although Holbein never entirely overcame
this fault, he did very greatly do so, as the years passed.

His architectural settings, too, tended to greater simplicity in his
later years. Yet this is not a safe guide. Some early designs have
simple forms; some comparatively late ones, a very ornate architecture.
For the truth is that these architectural backgrounds and settings
remained, so long as his fancy had any free field for disporting itself,
an integral part of his conception. But only as inseparable from the
Symbolism, the under-tow, of his imagination. To my thinking, at any
rate, they make a gravid mistake who look for "realism" in these things.

His stately pillars and arches, his fluid forms of ornament, are not his
idea of the actual surroundings of the characters he portrays, any more
than they are your idea, or mine, of those surroundings. Is it to be
supposed that he thought the dwellings of our Lord were palaces? Or
that he could not paint a stable? Those who maintain that Holbein was a
Realist in the modern sense of the word must reconcile as best they can
the theory with the facts. But when we see the stage set with every
stately circumstance,--the Babe amid the fading splendours of earthly
palaces, our Lord mocked by matter as well as man,--I dare to think that
we shall do well to cease from insisting on an adobe wall, and to study
those "incongruous" circumstances to which the will and not the poverty
of Holbein consents. We shall, at least, no longer be dull to "the tears
of things" as he saw them.

But it would be no less a mistake to think of Holbein as one without a
sense of laughter as well. His drawings of open-mouthed peasants
gossiping in a summer's nooning, or dancing in some uncouth frolic,--and
still more his romping children, dancing children, and the chase of the
fox running off with the goose,--all of these are full of boyish fun.
Would that they could be given here without usurping the place of
more important works! But that is impossible. And so, too, with the
costume-figures of Basel, among which is the charming back view of a
citizen's wife, with all the women bent far backward in the odd carriage
that was then "the latest fashion" among them.

He was particularly happy, also, in his drawings of the _Landsknechte_,
those famous Mercenaries of "Blut und Eisen"; always ready to drink a
good glass, and a-many; to love a good lass after the same liberal
fashion; to troll a good song or fight a good fight; and all with equal
zest. He had not mixed with these masterful gentry for nothing; nor they
with him to wholly die. There are a number of drawings where they are
engaged in combat, too, which show that Holbein's heart leapt to the
music of sword and spear as blithely as does Scott's or Dumas's--as
blithely as did the hearts of the _Reisläufer_ themselves. Look at
the mad rush, the hand-to-hand grapple, in a drawing of the Basel
Collection, for instance (Plate 7). The blood-lust, the heroism, the
savagery, the thrust, the oath, the dust-choked prayer, the forgotten
breathing clay under the bloodstained foot; the very clash and din of
the fray;--all is told with the brush. And yet not one unnecessary
detail squandered. It is as if one watched it from some palpitating
refuge, just near enough to see the forefront figures distinctly and
to make out the interlocked hubbub and fury where the ranks have been
broken through. It would be a great day for Art could we but chance
upon some lost painting for which such a study had served its completed

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 3rd of July, 1520, Holbein fulfilled what was then the
requirement of almost every guild, and purchased his citizenship; a
citizenship to reflect unfading honour on Basel, and of which she has
ever been justly proud. And somewhere about the same time he married
Elsbeth Schmidt, a tanner's widow, who had one child, Franz.

  Illustration: PLATE 7
 _Washed Drawing. Basel Museum_

For the past four or five years Basel had been steadily becoming more
and more democratic. And at a period when its _élite_ were scholars and
printers and civic officials of every origin,--when the illegitimate son
of a Rotterdam doctor was the true prince, and Beatus Rhenanus, the
grandson of a butcher, was his worthy second in the reverence of
Basel,--the widow and son of a reputable tanner and a rising young
artist, who had already the suffrages of the most influential citizens,
would find no doors closed to them on the score of social disabilities.
The friendship of such men as Erasmus, Froben, Bonifacius Amerbach,
and the Mayor,--all conspicuous stars in the Church party,--would
have ennobled a man of less genius than Holbein in the eyes of his
fellow-citizens; and rightly. But as to the exact locality in which
Holbein set up his first married roof-tree--that Bethel of sacred
or saddest dreams--no documentary evidence has yet come to light.
Circumstantial evidence, however, amounts to a strong probability in
favour of the _Rheinhalde_ of Great-Basel.

If there was an emblem peculiarly abhorrent to the Basilisk (the Device
of Basel) it was the Crescent-and-star. But nothing could better serve
to recall the rough outline of Basel in Holbein's day than this very
emblem. As the Rhine suddenly swerves from its first wild rush westward
and races away, northerly, to the German Ocean, it shapes the hollow of
the crescent in which Little-Basel (_Klein-Basel_) nestled as the star;
and, appropriately enough, since it was here that the Catholic's Star of
Faith rallied when overcome across the river, where curved the crescent
of Great-Basel (_Gross-Basel_). And the relative proportions of the two
would be fairly enough represented by the symbols respectively used.

Great-Basel's northern face was protected by the Rhine, while the stout
city wall secured its convex curve. Of this wall the eastern horn was
St. Alban's Gate; its north-west was St. John's Gate (_St. Johann
Thor_); beside which stood the decaying Commandery of the Knights of
Malta, which had contributed a large sum toward the expanded wall, in
order to be included within it. And just as these spots still mark the
horns of the old crescent, the _Spalen Thor_ shows where it had its
greatest depth, midway between the other two.

A straight line running due north-east from this Spalen-Thor would cross
the big square of the Fish-market (_Fischmarktplatz_) pretty nearly as
the uncovered stream of the Birsig, or "Little Birs," did before the
quaint little bridge, which then united the two halves of the Fischmarkt,
was absorbed in the paving over of stream and square before Holbein's
day. This same straight line would of itself draw the "Old Bridge"
(_Alte Brücke_) with approximate exactness, the even then ancient bridge
which centred the star of Klein-Basel to its crescent. And in the
Historical Museum, where the Barefooted Friars worshipped then, we may
still see the grotesque piece of clockwork, the wooden "Stammering King"
(_Lällenkönig_), that for centuries used hourly to roll great eyes and
stick out its tongue a foot long across the river from the Gross-Basel
end of the bridge. It is often said that this monster was set up as a
public token of the hatred which the triumphant Protestantism of the
south bank felt for the stubborn Catholicism of Klein-Basel. But the
thing was a famous ancient joke before party feeling turned it into a

Bonifacius Amerbach's home, the "Emperor's Seat" (_Kaiserstuhl_, now 23,
Rheingasse), was in Klein-Basel. Johann Amerbach had bought it, near to
his beloved friends, the Carthusians. In 1520 the good old man had slept
for six years in the cloisters of the monastery; where to-day the
children of the Orphan Asylum play above his grave.

But all the conditions of Holbein's daily life would lead him to prefer
Basel proper, and to choose the quarter in which he bought a home eight
years later. This was then the western quarter of Gross-Basel, along the
river-face of which ran the high southern and western bank of the Rhine,
the _Rheinhalde_, now _St. Johann Vorstadt_. About where the present
_Blumenrain_ ends stood the arch, or _Schwibbogen_. Further on still
stood the "Gate of the Cross" (_Kreuzthor_), by the House of the Brothers
of St. Anthony, the ancient _Klösterli_ of Basel. Before the Commandery
of St. John got themselves included within the city wall the Kreuzthor
was its western gate. The whole district of _ze Crüze_, so called
because its boundaries were crosses before towers replaced them, has
however become absorbed in the St. Johann Vorstadt, while the Kreuzthor
has disappeared altogether. The quarter was a favourite one with members
of the Fishers' Guild and with decent folk of small mean

As early as 1517 the Fishers' Company had extended itself so greatly as
to become a notable institution of the Vorstadt, including many members
from Klein-Basel also; while its military record was a proud one. But
it was in this year, while Holbein was making his visit to Lucerne
and beyond, that this guild took the more truly descriptive name
which it bears to this day, that of the "Vorstadt Association"
(_Vorstadtgesellschaft_). And to this association, which in after years
gave him a famous banquet, Holbein, we know, belonged later on, if not

Every day would take him to the Fischmarkt,--the great square humming
with activity, crowded with inns, public-houses, shops, booths,
dwelling-houses,--the trade mart of every nationality. The Cornmarkt
near by, now the _Marktplatz_, with its almost finished Rathaus, was
the centre of official civic life. When the great bell clanged on the
Rathaus, and its flag was flung out, not only every professional
soldier, but every guild and every male above fourteen, knew his
appointed place at the wall, and took it. But every day, and all day,
the Fischmarkt flung out its peaceful standards, or rallied men to
this side or to that with the tocsin of its presses,--the old Amerbach
printing-house "of the Settle" (_zum Sessel_), which was Johann Froben's
home and printing-house in 1520.

Morning after morning, and year upon year, Holbein turned his back upon
St. Johannthor, and walked eastward along the Rheinhalde;--the river
racing toward him on his left hand, the University rising in front of
him beyond the bridge, and the delicate Cathedral towers beyond the
University. For the Basel Minster was still the Cathedral of the great
See of Basel. Passing the wall of the Dominican Cemetery, on which was
painted the ancient Dance of Death with which his own after-creations
were so often to be confused, Holbein must many a time have studied the
famous old copy. For though the Dominican painting was then nearly a
century old, it was a copy of a still older original in the Klein-Basel
nunnery of _Klingenthal_, a community under Dominican direction.

But he would pass another spot--one day to be of far more living
importance to him. In 1520 it was a corn warehouse, known by the name of
_ze Crüz_, which belonged to Adam Petri, the printer, who had inherited
it from his uncle, the famous printer Johann Petri, by whose ingenious
improvements the art of printing was so greatly facilitated. Two years
later, in 1522, Froben bought this granary, ze Crüz, and converted it
into the book-magazine which was known all over Europe as "Froben's
Book-house." And in this latter year Adam Petri, greatly to Luther's
disgust, pirated Luther's translation of the New Testament, which had
appeared three months before.

Holbein drew a superb title-page, ante-dated 1523, for this "enterprise"
of Petri--the New Testament "now right faithfully rendered into
German,"--with the symbols of the Evangelists at the four corners, the
arms of Basel at the top, the device of the printer at the foot, and the
noble figures of St. Paul and St. Peter on either side; figures which
will bear comparison with Dürer's "Four Temperaments" of a later date.
Later still he designed another striking title-page for Thomas Wolff's
translation; and his beautiful title-pages and ornaments for Froben,
with whom his connection was not a temporary matter such as these
others, would need a volume to themselves.

Holbein's only rival, if he could be called such, in work of this sort
was the talented goldsmith, Urs Graf, who, as an exceedingly loose fish,
lived most appropriately in the Fischmarkt in his own house near the old
Birsig Bridge, when he was not in the lock-up for one or another of his
constant brawls and scandals. But to compare the best work of both
is to recognise a difference in kind as well as degree: the essential
difference between even negligent genius and the most elaborate talent.
High talent Urs Graf had unquestionably; though stamped,--I think,--with
the lawless caprices of his own character. Holbein's every design has
not only what Urs Graf lacked--that ordered imagination which is
Style--but over and above all, the subtle expression of Power.

Many a time, too, just where he would turn away from the Rhine for the
business centre of Gross-Basel, the artist would make some little pause
at the old "Flower" Inn (_zur Blume_), which gave its name to the
Blumenplatz, and is still commemorated in the greatly extended Blumenrain
of to-day. All the world now knows the famous hotel of "The Three
Kings"; and where it reaches nearest to the Old Bridge stood the "Blume"
of Holbein's time, even then the oldest of the Basel inns. This Blume,
not to be confused with later inns of the same name, shared with its no
less famous contemporary,--"The Stork," in the Fischmarkt,--the special
patronage of the chief printers. Basilius Amerbach, for instance, the
brother of Holbein's friend Bonifacius, lived at the Blume; and often
the painter must have turned in for a friendly glass with him and a chat
about Bonifacius, away at his law studies in Avignon.

As for the Stork, its very rooms were named in remembrance of the envoys
and merchant traders who flocked to it on all great occasions. There
was a "Cologne Room," for instance, and a "Venetian Room," among many
others. The men of Venice, indeed, had a particular affection for it.
Here Holbein met with all nationalities, and learned much of the great
centres of other countries. Here came all the Basel magnates and
printers. And here, a few years later on, came that bizarre personage
who was for a very brief time Basel's "town physician," the Paracelsus
Theophrastus Bombastus to whom we owe our word _bombastic_. Holbein
was on a visit to England during the latter's short tenure of office,
when the combined scholarship and poverty of Oporinus made him the
hack of Paracelsus and the victim of many a petty tyranny. At that time
Oporinus,--the son of that Hans Herbster, painter, whose portrait is
now attributed to Ambrose Holbein,--was glad to place his remarkable
knowledge of Greek at Froben's service. He was not yet a printer, as
later when Holbein drew a clever device for him. And neither he nor the
painter could know that one day the daughter of Bonifacius Amerbach
should marry him out of sheer pity for his unhappy old age,--somewhat as
he himself, when but a lad of twenty, married an aged Xantippe from

But in 1520, when Holbein was just married, Oporinus was still a
student and Bonifacius unmarried. Erasmus, too, did not permanently
take up his home with Froben until the following year, and was now at
Louvain. Yet what a true university was that little house _zum Sessel_
(now 3, Todtengässlein, the little lane where the old post-office stood)
to an intelligence such as Holbein's! And what a circle was that of
Froben's staff! From Froben himself, above whom Erasmus alone could
tower in scholarship, down through every member to the youngest, and
from such men as Gerard Lystrius on the one hand and the literally
"Beatus" Rhenanus on the other, what things were not to be learned!

And what discussions those were that drew each man to give of his best
in the common talk! Venice sent news of the "unspeakable" Turk, whom she
had such good cause to watch and dread. For fifty years his name had
ceased to blanch the cheek of other nations; but now it was said, and
said truly, that the dying Selim, "the Grim," had forged a thunderbolt
which Suleyman II. would not be slow to hurl. No man could know the
worst or dared predict the end, as to that Yellow Terror of Holbein's
time. And closer still, to keen eyes, were the threats of the coming
Peasant Terror. Wurtemberg had battened down the flames, it is true;
but the deck of Europe was hot under foot with the passions that were
soon to make the Turks' atrocities seem gentle in comparison.

The death of Maximilian and the election of Charles V. were a year old
now. But none knew better than the Basel printers how much the League
of Swabia and the Swiss Confederation had weighed in the close contest
of claims between those three strangely youthful competitors for the
Emperor's crown;--Charles, but nineteen; Francis I., one-and-twenty;
and Henry VIII., not twenty-five. Basel also knew that Charles had only
bought his triumph by swearing to summon the Diet of Worms. All the
more, therefore, was she intensely alive to the possible issues of the
Arabian-Nights-Entertainment which had but just concluded on the dreary
Calais flats when Holbein became one of Basel's citizens. Erasmus had
come back full of it. Marco Polo's best wonders made but a dingy show
beside the "Field of the Cloth of Gold," where in this June the two
defeated candidates for imperial honours had kissed each other midway
between the ruined moat of Guisnes and the rased battlements of Arde.

Then, on top of this, came the rumours of the English King's undertaking
to answer Luther's most formidable attack on Rome. It was in 1520, the
year after his great disputation with Eck at Leipzig, that Luther
published his cataclysmic addresses: "To the Christian Nobles of
Germany" and "On the Babylonian Captivity,"--the latter of which itself
contains the whole Protestant Reformation in embryo. "Would to God,"
exclaimed Erasmus of it, "that he had followed my counsel and abstained
from odious and seditious proceedings!" Bishop Tunstall, then in Worms,
had also written of it:--"I pray God keep that book out of England!" But
before the year was out "that book" had reached England, and Henry VIII.
had sworn to annihilate its arguments and to triumphantly defend the
dogmas of Rome. The eagerly-awaited "Defence" did not get printed,
and would remain in Pope Leo's hands for a year yet. But Basel knew,
through More and Erasmus,--whose canny smile probably discounted its
critical quality,--pretty much its line of defence. Nor was Froben's
circle one whit more surprised than its royal author when its immediate
reward was that formal style and title--_Defender of the Faith_,--to
which a few years more were to lend so different a significance.

By this latter date Ulrich von Hutten had fled to Basel, only to find
that his violent "heresies" had completely estranged Erasmus, and closed
Froben's door, as well as all other Roman Catholic doors, against him
for ever. He lodged, therefore, at the Blume until the Basel Council
requested him to leave the town, a little before his death, in 1523. But
in 1520 Hutten was still at Sickingen's fortress, digging with fierce
ardour the impassable gulf between him and the band of friends and
Churchmen among whom Holbein ever ranged himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the five lost works which Patin says Holbein painted, there was a
"Nativity" and an "Adoration of the Kings." It is impossible now to say
what resemblances, if any, existed between these and the same subjects,
executed not much later, which are now in the University Chapel, Freiburg
Minster. These latter are the only known works of Holbein that still
hang in a sacred edifice. They were evidently designed to fold in upon a
central altar-piece with an arched top, thus making, when open, the
usual triptych; but the central painting has vanished. This large work
was a gift to the Carthusian monastery in Klein-Basel; and the arms of
the donor, Hans Oberriedt, are displayed below the Nativity, as well as
the portraits of himself and his six sons. Below the corresponding right
wing, the Adoration, are the arms of his wife and her portrait, with her
four daughters.

In both wings what I can only describe as the atmosphere of Infancy,--and
a touching atmosphere it is too--is strengthened by keeping all the
figures small and heightening this suggestion by contrast with a grandiose
architecture. In both, too, the sacred scenes reveal themselves like
visions unseen by the Oberriedt family, who face outward toward the
altar and are supposed to be lighted by the actual lights of the church.
The whole work must once have been a glorious creation, with its rich
colours, its beautiful architectural forms, and its mingling of purest
imagination with realism. What would one not give to see the lost work
these wings covered?

  Illustration: PLATE 8
 _Oils. University Chapel, Freiburg Cathedral_

In the left wing, the Nativity (Plate 8), Holbein has remarkably
anticipated the lighting of Correggio's famous masterpiece, not finished
until years after this must have been painted, by the conditions of
Oberriedt's history and Basel's as well. The Light that is to light the
world lights up the scene with an exquisite enchanting softness,--yet
so brilliantly that the very lights of heaven seem dimmed in comparison.
The moon, in Holbein's deliberate audacity, seems but a disc as she bows
her face, too, in worship. Shining by some compulsion of purest Nature,
the divine radiance glows on the ecstatic Mother; and away above and
beyond her--"How far that little candle shines," and shines, and shines
again amid the shadows! It illumines the beautiful face of the Virgin,
touches the reverent awe of St. Joseph, plays over marble arch and
pillar, discovers the wondering shepherd peering from behind the pillar
on the left, and irradiates the angel in the distance, hastening to
carry the "glad tidings." The happy cherubs behind the Child rejoice
in it; and as they spring forward one notices how Holbein has boldly
discarded the conventional, and attached their pinions as if these were
a natural development of the arm instead of a separate member.

The same union of unfettered fancy symbolism and realism displays itself
throughout the right wing,--where the Virgin is enthroned in front of
crumbling palaces. The sun's rays form a great star, of such dazzling
light that one of the attendants shades his eyes to look upward, and
an old man with a noble head, wearing an ermine cape, presents his
offering as the chief of the three kings; while a Moorish sovereign,
dressed in white, makes a splendid figure as he waits to kneel with
his gift, and his greyhound stands beside him. The colouring of both
paintings must have had an extraordinary beauty when the painter laid
down his brush.

To carp at such conceptions because their architecture is as imaginative
and as deeply symbolical as the action, is to demand that Holbein shall
be someone else. These pictures, beyond the portraits below them, are
the farthest possible from aiming at what we demand of Realism, though
their own realism is astonishing. Holbein all too seldom sounds them,
but when he does choose to stir only a joyous elation in the heart he
rings a peal of silver bells. Here all is glad thanksgiving. The Divine
has come into a sick and sorry world; and, behold, all is changed!
Nothing sordid, nothing shabby, consists with the _meaning_ of this
miracle. Therefore it is not here. All is transformed; all is a New
Jerusalem--splendour, peace, ineffable and mysterious Beauty.

With the dominance of the anti-Catholic party, which unseated Meyer
zum Hasen in 1521, his friend Oberriedt also fell into trouble. And
soon after Erasmus and Bonifacius Amerbach,--disgusted with the
iconoclast fanaticism of 1528 and 1529,--took refuge in Catholic
Freiburg-in-the-Breisgau, Oberriedt also left Basel for that city. He
took these wings with him to save them from the destruction which
probably overtook the central work. The latter was, perhaps, too large
to conceal or get away. During the Thirty Years' War they were again
removed, and safeguarded at Schaffhausen. And so great was their
fame that they were twice expressly commanded to be brought before a
sovereign; once to Munich, to be seen by Maximilian of Bavaria; and
again to Ratisbon for the Emperor Ferdinand III. In 1798 they were
looted by the French, and were only restored to Freiburg in 1808.

  Illustration: PLATE 9
 _Eight-panelled Altar-piece Oils. Basel Museum_
     I _Gethsemane_
    II _The Kiss of Judas_
   III _Before Pontius Pilate_
    IV _The Scourging_
     V _The Mocking_
    VI _The Way to Calvary_
   VII _"It is finished"_
  VIII _The Entombment_

Another great religious picture, once no less renowned than Oberriedt's
altar-paintings, has suffered a worse fate. This is the eight-panelled
altar-piece of the Passion, now in the Basel Museum (Plate 9). So far
back as is known it was preserved, probably after being hidden from the
fury that attacked all church pictures, in the Rathaus. Maximilian I.,
of Bavaria, the zealous collector of Dürer's works, offered almost any
price for this altar-piece by Dürer's great contemporary. But Basel,
unlike Nüremberg, was not to be bribed; and the world-famous painting
remained to draw art-lovers from every country in Europe. Nor did the
most competent judges fail to envy Basel her jewel, and to eulogise its
perfections. Painters such as Sandrart, looking at it after it had
survived a hundred and fifty years of vicissitude, could exclaim: "It is
a work in which the utmost that our art is capable of may be found;
yielding the palm to none, whether of Germany or Italy, and justly
wearing the laurel-wreath among the works of former times."

Alas! this laurel, too, has been filched from Holbein's fame. In 1771
the altar-piece was consigned to the collection where it now is; and it
was then decided to gild the gold and paint the lily. The work was
subjected to one of those crude "restorations" which respect nothing
save the frame. And no monarch will ever again compete for its possession.
Red is over red and blue over blue, doubtless; but in place of Holbein's
rich harmony a jangle of gaudy conflicting colours now sets one's teeth
on edge. So that only in a photograph can one even enjoy the
composition--all that is left of the Master.

But here it can be seen with what art the painter has so combined
eight separate and distinct pictures, each a gem, into one, by such a
distribution and balance that the whole is as integral as a pearl. The
scene on the Mount of Olives, which a great critic once pronounced
worthy to compare with Correggio's work, is only to be surpassed by the
Entombment. And in every scene--what freedom, action, verve! From the
first to the last all passes with the swift step of Calamity, yet all
with noble dignity.

The Basel Museum possesses also a set of ten washed drawings in Indian
ink,--scenes of the Passion designed for glass-painting,--which must be
conned and conned again before one can "know" Holbein at all in his
deepest moods. They are a great Testament, though they seem unbearably
harsh at a superficial glance. But put aside your own ideas and humbly
study the ideas of Holbein,--sure that they must be well worth the
reverence of yours or mine,--and little by little you will be made free
of that Underworld where Holbein's true self has its home; you will
pierce its gloom and find its clue and understand its tongue. It is a
small matter whether you and I find ourselves in sympathy with that
world, or can never be acclimatised. The great matter, the only matter,
is to understand it; to see in its skeletons something more than lively
bones, in its graves something besides Horror.

Without mastering the logical sequence of these ten drawings,--where
scene by scene the Divine recedes before our eyes, and the Son of Man
assumes more and more the whole burden of Sin and Death,--it is
inevitable that the life-size painting of Christ in the Grave, also in
the Basel Museum (Plate 10), should seem just a ghastly and "unpardonable"
piece of realism. Realism of the most ghastly truthfulness, as to a
corpse in the grave, it certainly is. But although it may be questioned
whether such a picture should ever be painted, no one who looks through
the form to the thought that shapes it would pronounce even this awful
utterance "unpardonable."

There have been those who could see in this dead Christ,--lying rigid in
a green sarcophagus that throws over the waxen flesh the ghastly threat
of that decay which would follow if no miracle intervened,--there have
been those, I say, who could see in it only superb technique. And others
see only the negation of all idealism, if not of all faith.

  Illustration: PLATE 10
 _Oils. Basel Museum_

Yet put this painting,--the acme of technical beauty as well as of
ruthless realism,--at the close of the ten Passion drawings, and I
venture to believe that the one coherent conception that runs through
them all will legitimately find its conclusion here.

Here He lies that surrendered Himself to the punishment of Sin and the
penalty of Death--for all men and all time. His pale lips are set with
the superhuman agony of the cry with which He paid the uttermost
farthing of that bond. Man has died for man, martyrs for faith; here God
has died unto Himself, for us. There has been no playing at death. All
the pitiless terrors of the grave are here, with Him who for love of us
has chosen to know Mortality "like at all points" with mortal men. What
He bore for us, shall we shrink from so much as realising? The great
eyes are fixed in a look whose penetrating, almost liquid sweetness
not even the rigor of the final anguish could obliterate. Divine
devotion,--devotion more than mortal,--still lingers in those sockets.
The heart may well dilate before this sight; the soul fall on its knees.
By each of those bloodstained steps, by the sting of this death, we have
been paid for. Here, here only,--as Holbein saw it,--is the leverage the
heathen philosopher vainly sighed for to move the world; God's
leverage, Infinite Love.

This is anything but a theological tangent. A great artist has
bequeathed us his beliefs,--drawn and painted in many works, with every
patient, virile, expressive power at his command. There has been enough
and to spare of shrieks or scoffs. A little humility and a little study
is in place, too. For the rest, let us not forget that this large
painting was made for some altar; and that many a weeping penitent, many
a devout heart, has been pierced with its message. On the edge of the
stone coffin, which is tinted a warm green within, and lit by some
opening at the foot, is the inscription in gold letters: "JESUS
NAZARENUS REX JUDÆORUM." The stigmata are painted with unsparing truth.
The work is dated 1521.

There is in the Hampton Court Gallery a little painting which has only
comparatively recently been recognised as Holbein's, but which forms the
beautiful and fitting close of this set of religious pictures. As is the
case with so many of his works, the critics are not unanimous upon it.
But the authorities who have no doubts as to its being a genuine Holbein
of this period are so weighty that I need not argue the point in
support of my own convictions.

In the Hampton Court Catalogue it is styled "Mary Magdalen at our Lord's
Sepulchre," but I prefer to call it the Risen Christ (Plate 11). It must
once have been supremely beautiful; for even now its ideal loveliness
shines through all the evil fortunes which have once again defaced
the handiwork of Holbein. The type of Christ, and indeed the work
throughout, bears a marked resemblance to the eight-panelled Basel

The painter has chosen the moment recorded in the twentieth chapter of
St. John. In that early dawn, "when it was yet dark," Mary has brought
spikenard in a marble cup, if not to anoint the sacred Dead at least to
pour it on the threshold of the sealed tomb, with tears and prayers. She
has fled to tell St. John and St. Peter of the sacrilege of the open
tomb,--has followed them back, still mechanically clasping her useless
spikenard,--has seen them go in where her trembling knees refused to
follow, and then go homeward, as we can see them in the distance,
arguing the almost incredible fact.

Poor Mary has had no heart for discussion. She has stayed weeping by the
empty grave until two pitying angels have appeared to recall her from
despair, and she has "turned herself back,"--too frightened to stay for
comfort. And then she has seen near her a Face, a Form, she was too
dazed to recognise until the unforgettable Voice has thrilled through
her, and she has flung herself forward with the old, instinctive cry,
"Master!" to touch, to clasp that Hand, so dear, so familiar, so
all-protecting, and find it a reality.

It is this tremendous moment that Holbein has seized. And with what
exquisite feeling for every detail of the scene, every great emotion!
Had the painting been preserved, as it deserved to be, surely it too
could claim a part of that laurel wreath which Sandrart averred could
not be torn from the Basel altar-piece by any rival, whether Italian or

  Illustration: Plate 11
 _Oils. Hampton Court Gallery_

The misty landscape, with the crosses of Golgotha and the eastern hills
catching the first brightness of the new Day dawning over mortality; the
broken clouds of night, scattered like the conquered horrors of the
grave, and the illuminated tomb where Hope and Faith henceforth ask
us why we weep; the hurrying agitation of St. Peter and the trusting
serenity of St. John, expressed in every gesture; the dusky trees;
Mary's quivering doubt and rapture, touched with some new awe; and
the simple majesty with which our Lord stays that unconscious innocent
presumption, _Touch me not_.

What forbidding tenderness in that Face lighted by the grave He has
passed through! What a subtle yet eloquent suggestion of the eternal
difference, henceforth, between Love and love is in these mortal
lineaments that have evermore resumed their divinity! No face, no type,
no art, can ever realise Christ; yet when this little painting was first
added to the great roll of Holbein _Basiliensis_, it must have gone as
near to realising its subject as the colours of earth can go.

But every man, happily for himself, has a material as well as an
immaterial world with which he must be concerned. To transpose Bagehot's
profound little saying,--Each man dines in a room apart, but we all go
down to dinner together. And though Holbein knew the pinch of narrow
means, he had no lack of good cheer as well as austere food in his art.

On March 12th, 1521, the Great Council held its first meeting in the new
Rathaus; and Meyer zum Hasen, who presided over it as Burgomaster,
entrusted to his protégé the enviable task of decorating the Council
Chamber. Fifty-six years after Holbein's work was completed these
wall-paintings were described as "representations of the noblest
subjects--done by the German Apelles." By this title the painter was
everywhere recognised throughout the greater part of his lifetime.

In all, there would seem to have been six large pictures or set pieces;
but two were not done until years later. One wall being too broken up by
windows to be suitable, there remained three,--of which "the back wall"
adjoining Meyer's house was not touched at this time. Ostensibly the
reason was want of funds; but as a matter of fact the Protestant party
(to anticipate this name), which grew strong enough to unseat Meyer
before the year was out, was at this time indifferent to art when not
positively inimical to it.

Whether treating a façade or an interior it was Holbein's custom to make
a flat wall-space assume the most solid-looking forms of Renaissance
architecture. Iselin once said of a façade of Holbein's, that there was
a dog painted on it so naturally that the dogs in the street would run
up and bark at it. And so astounding was the realism with which he threw
out balconies, and added windows, cornices, and statues, and the richest
carvings, pillars, arches, and vistas of every sort, that no eye could
credit them with illusion. Horses neighed in the courtyards, flowers
bloomed in the gardens, dogs leaped beside master or mistress, and
children played in the spacious balconies, or moved to and fro between
the splendid marble pillars and the distant wall. To study the copies
that remain of such works is to be astounded by their feats of

Inside would be kindred illusions. Large pictures would seem to be
actually taking place without, and beheld through beautifully carved
archways or windows; while the apparent walls would have niches filled
with superb marble statues and the ceiling be supported by pillars,
behind which people walked and talked or leaned out to watch the chief

And so it was with the Council Chamber. But nothing now remains of these
works except fragments and a few drawings for the principal features. So
far as can be judged, each wall had two large scenes; the four pictures
of this period being chosen from the heroic legends of the _Gesta
Romanorum_; the two painted later, from the Old Testament.

But while these large works were going forward Holbein was busy with
many others; private commissions for Froben, occasionally for other
printers, and for altar-pieces or portraits. All through his life his
industry and accomplishment left him small time for leisure or the
dissipations of leisure. Nor is there any year of his life when his work
does not attest a clear eye and a firm hand. These things are their own
certificate of conduct; at any rate, of "worldly" conduct.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1522 occurred two important events in his life. His first child, the
son he called Philip, was born; and he painted an altar-piece which is
in some respects the most beautiful of his extant works. The latter--now
in the Solothurn Museum, and therefore called the "Solothurn Madonna"
(Plate 12)--has had one of the most extraordinary histories to be found
in the records of art.

  Illustration: PLATE 12
 _Oils. Solothurn Museum_

The background of this picture,--a massive arch of grey sandstone
supported by iron stanchions,--was evidently designed to suit the
surrounding architecture of some grey-walled ancient structure. On a
daïs covered with a green carpet, patterned in white and red and
emblazoned with the arms of the donor and his wife, sits the lovely
Madonna with the Child held freely yet firmly in two of the most
exquisite hands which even Holbein ever painted. Her dress is a rich
rose-red; her symbolical mantle of universal Motherhood, or "Grace," is
a most beautiful ultramarine, loaded in the shadows and like a sapphire
in its lights. The flowing gold of her hair shimmers under its filmy
veil, and the jewels in her gold crown flash below the great white
pearls that tip its points. Where the sky-background approaches Mother
and Child, its azure tone is lost in a pure effulgence of light; as if
the very ether were suffused with the sense of the Divine.

The Child is drawn and painted superbly. The carnations are exquisite;
the gravity of infancy is not exaggerated, yet fittingly enforces the
gesture of benediction. The left hand is turned outward in a movement so
peculiar to happy, vigorous babyhood that it is a marvel of observation
and nature. The little foot is admirably foreshortened, and the wrinkled
sole a bit of inimitable painting. But perhaps most wonderful of all is
the art with which, amid so many splendid details, the Child is the
centre of interest as well as of the picture. How it is so, is Holbein's
own secret.

To right and left of the Virgin stand two fine types of spiritual and
temporal authority. Behind and at her right, almost hidden by the
amplitude of her mantle, kneels a poor wretch who is introduced here by
some necessity of the commission itself, but is skilfully prevented from
obtruding his needs on the serene beauty of the scene. Dropping gold
into his alms-bowl with a hand effectively contrasted with his brown
thumb, stands "the sinner's saint"--the good Bishop of Tours; while some
other condition of the work has embroidered St. Martin's red mitre with
the figure of St. Nicholas. There is one other striking circumstance
about St. Martin; and that is that, although he is in the Virgin's
presence, he wears the violet chasuble of an Intercessor. The chasuble
is lined with red, and it and the rich vestments, on which scenes of
the Passion are displayed, are the patient verisimilitude of ancient
vestments. In St. Martin's gloved left hand is his crozier and the right
glove, which he has drawn off to bestow his alms.

Opposite to him stands the patron-saint of Solothurn,--St. Ursus, a
hero of the Theban legend,--dressed from head to foot in a suit of
magnificently painted armour. His left hand grasps his sword-hilt; his
right supports the great red flag with its white cross. Nor is that flag
of the year 1522 the least interesting detail of this work. With the
crimson reflections of the flag streaking the cold gleams of his
glittering armour, his stern dark face and the white plumes tossing
to his shoulder, St. Ursus is a figure that may well leave historical
accuracy to pedants. Below his foot are the initials H.H., and the date,
1522; as if cut into the stone.

This work was commissioned by Hans Gerster, for many years Town
Archivist of Basel, in which capacity he had to convey important state
papers to other councils with which that of Basel had negotiations. From
this it came about that from the year when Basel entered the Swiss
Confederation, in 1501, Gerster was almost as much at home in the "City
of Ambassadors" as in his own, and the Dean or _Probst_ of the Solothurn
Cathedral--the "Cathedral of St. Ursus and St. Victor"--became not only
his spiritual director, but one of his most intimate friends. Many
circumstances which cannot be given here make it pretty evident that in
1522 Gerster, probably under the advice of the Probst, the Coadjutor
Nicholas von Diesbach, made this picture an _expiatory_ offering for
some secret sin of grave proportions. There are hints that point to
treachery to the Basel troops, in the Imperial interests, sympathy with
which finally cost him, as well as his friend Meyer zum Hasen, his
official position. Gerster himself was not a native of Basel, although
his wife, Barbara Guldenknopf, was.

Be this as it may, it is apparently in direct connection with this
confessed sin that "the sinner's saint," St. Martin of Tours, is chosen
as Intercessor for Gerster, wearing the prescribed chasuble for this
office. And it seems likely that the addition to his mitre of the figure
of St. Nicholas was Gerster's wish, in order to specially associate the
name-saint of his friend--Nicholas von Diesbach--with this intercession.
It is assumed by those who have patiently unearthed these details of
circumstantial evidence, that the beggar is introduced to mark the
identity of the boundlessly charitable Bishop of Tours. But I venture to
suggest still another reason: this is, that in the uplifted, pleading
face of the mendicant, whose expression of appeal and humility is a
striking bit of realism in these ideal surroundings, we may have the
actual portrait of the donor, Hans Gerster himself. That this should be
so would be in strict accord with the methods of the period. There is a
striking parallel which will occur to all who are familiar with the St.
Elizabeth in the St. Sebastian altar-piece at Munich. Here the undoubted
portrait of Hans Holbein the elder is seen as the beggar in the

It is, as has been said, a marvellous story by which this glorious
painting,--in which the introduction of the patron-saint of Solothurn
proves that it was created for one of her own altars,--was completely
lost to her, and to the very histories of Art, and then returned to the
city for which it was originally destined; all by a chain of seemingly
unrelated accidents. But only the skeleton of that story can be given

In all probability this Madonna was executed for the altar of the ancient
Lady Chapel of the Solothurn Cathedral. A hundred and twenty-six years
after it was painted, this chapel was pulled down, to be replaced by a
totally different style of architecture; and as the picture was then
smoke-stained and "old-fashioned" it would in all likelihood drop into
some lumber-room. At all events, it must have become the property of the
Cathedral choirmaster,--one Hartmann,--after another five-and-thirty
years. For at this time he built, and soon after endowed, the little
village church of Allerheiligen, on the outskirts of the industrial town
of Grenchen, which lies at the southern foot of the Jura.

_Facilis descensus!_ Another turn of the centuries' wheel and the gift
of this chapel's founder was once again thought unworthy of the altar to
which it had been presented. When Herr Zetter of Solothurn first saw it
in the queer little Allerheiligen chapel, it hung high up on the choir
wall; blackened, worm-eaten, without a frame, suspended by a string
passed through two holes which had been bored through the painted panel
itself. Yet his acute eye was greatly interested by it. And when, during
an official visit in 1864, he heard that the chapel was undergoing a
drastic renovation, he was concerned for the fate of the discoloured old
painting. At first it could not be discovered at all. Finally he found
it, face downward, spotted all over with whitewash, under the rough
boards that served for the workmen's platform. A few hours later and it,
too, would have been irrevocably gone; carted away with the "old

He examined it, made out the signature, knew that this might mean either
any one of a number of painters who used it, or a clumsy copy or
forgery, yet had the courage of his conviction that it was Holbein's
genuine work. He bought it of the responsible authority, who was glad
to be rid of four despised paintings, for the cost of all the new
decorations. He had expert opinion, which utterly discouraged his
belief; but stuck to it, took the risks of having it three long years
(so rotten was its whole condition) under repairs which might at any
moment collapse with it, yet leave their tremendous expenses behind to
be settled just the same; and finally found himself the possessor of a
perfectly restored chef-d'oeuvre of Holbein's brush, which, from the
first, Herr Zetter devoted to the Museum (now a fine new one) of

To-day this work, which some forty years ago no one dreamed had ever
existed, smiles in all the beauty of its first painting; a monument to
the insight and generous enthusiasm of the gentleman whose name is rightly
connected with its own in its official title--"The Zetter-Madonna of
Solothurn." And it smiles with Holbein's own undebased handiwork
throughout. _Pace_ Woltmann's blunder,--its network of fine cracks, even
over the Virgin's face, attests that it has suffered no over-painting.
The work has been mounted on a solid back, the greatest fissures and the
holes filled up to match their surroundings, the stains and defacements
of neglect cleared away, and the triumph is complete. It might well be
the "swan song" of a veteran artist at such work. Whatever the mistakes
of Eigener's career, the restoration of the Solothurn Madonna was a
flawless achievement for himself and his associates.

This work, too, is the most precious of all that have come down to us of
Holbein's imaginative compositions, from the fact that his first-born,
Philip, who was born about 1522, was the model for the Child, and that a
portrait of Elsbeth, his wife, served as a study for the Virgin. This
portrait is an unnamed and unsigned drawing in silver-point and Indian
ink, heightened with touches of red chalk, now in the Louvre Collection.
(Plate 13.)

  Illustration: PLATE 13
 _Silver-point and Indian-ink. Louvre Collection_
 _Believed by the writer to be Holbein's drawing of
  his wife before her first marriage, and the model
  for the Solothurn Madonna_

That this is a portrait of Holbein's wife any careful comparison with
her portrait at Basel must establish. Feature for feature, allowing for
the changes of sufficient years, the two faces are one and the same. The
very line of the shoulder, setting of the head, and even the outline of
the fashion in which the low dress is cut, is alike in both. And equally
unmistakable is the relation between this Louvre drawing and the
Madonna of Solothurn.

Yet I am unable to accept Woltmann's theory that the drawing was made in
1522 "for" the Virgin. He assumes that the lettering which borders the
bodice in this drawing--ALS. IN. ERN. ALS. IN....--and the braids in
which the hair is worn are simply some "fancy" dress. But surely if ever
hair bore the stamp of unstudied, even ugly custom, it does so here.
Then, too, Woltmann himself, as are all who adopt this explanation, is
unable to reconcile the oldest age which can be assigned to this sitter
with the youngest that can be assumed for the Basel painting of 1529
upon a hypothesis of only seven years' interval. Temperament and trouble
can do much in seven years; but not so much as this. I say _temperament_
advisedly; because all the evidence of Holbein's life substantiates
the assertion of Van Mander, who had it from Holbein's own circle of
contemporaries,--that the painter's life was made wretched by her
violent temper. We shall find him far from blameless in later years; but
though it may not excuse him, his unhappy home must largely explain his

Yet that it can explain such an alteration as that between the Louvre
drawing and the Basel portrait I do not believe. Nor could I persuade
myself either that any married woman of the sixteenth century wore her
hair in that most exclusive and invariable of Teuton symbols--"maiden"
plaits;--or that any husband ever thought it necessary to advertise upon
a picture of his wife that he held her "in all honour."

Myself, I must believe, then, that this portrait was made years before
1522; probably in the young painter's first months in Basel, in 1515;
and thus some fourteen years before the Basel group of 1529 was painted.
It may well have been that some serious misunderstanding between them
was at the bottom of that otherwise inexplicable departure in 1517, and
the two years' absence in Lucerne and still more southern cities. Of
course this is mere guesswork; so is every hypothesis until it is proved.
But all the simple commonplaces of first love, estrangement, separation,
and a renewed betrothal after Elsbeth's early widowhood with one child,
could easily have run a natural course between 1515 and their marriage,
somewhere about 1520.

As for the inscription,--it is a detail that Woltmann thinks represents
a repetition of the one phrase, and that I imagine to have suggested
what for some reason Holbein did not wish to proclaim:--"In all honour.
[In all love.]" But nothing can shake my conviction that in it we hear
the faint far-off echoes from some belfry in Holbein's own city of Îs.
The realities of that chime are buried,--whether well or ill,--four
hundred years deep in the seas that roll over that submerged world of
his youth and passion. But living emotion, we may be sure, went to the
writing and the treasuring of this pledge to Elsbeth or himself; a
pledge redeemed when she became his wife.

Thus for the altar-piece of 1522 there would be this portrait of Elsbeth
in her girlhood ready to his hand. But even so, see how he has idealised
it, made a new creature of it, all compact of exquisite ideals! He has
eliminated the subtle sensuousness which has its own allure in the
drawing. Every trait is refined, purified, vivified, raised to another
plane of character. Genius has put the inferior elements into its
retort, and transmuted them to some heavenly metal far enough from
Holbein's home-life.

Throughout all these years, as has been said, he was busy for the
printers also. In 1522 he drew the noble title-page for Petri's edition
of Luther's New Testament, with the figures of St. Peter and St. Paul
at either side, of which mention has been made. And in Thomas Wolff's
edition of 1523 there is a series of his designs. His alphabets, borders,
illustrations of all sorts, continued to enrich the Basel press from
this date, and were often borrowed by printers in other cities. In 1523
there came to Basel that masterly wood-cutter who has been already
referred to,--Hans Lützelburger. And from this time on, therefore,
Holbein's designs may be seen in their true beauty.

He had painted, besides portraits of Froben and others, at least three
portraits of Erasmus by 1524. For in June of this year the latter writes
to his friend Pirkheimer, at Nürnberg, to say that he has sent two of
these portraits by the "most accomplished painter" to England; while the
artist himself, he adds, has conveyed still a third to France.

The smaller of the two sent to England, two-thirds the size of life, is
probably the one now in the Louvre (Plate 14). It is a masterpiece of
penetration and technique. Erasmus is here seen in the most unaffected
simplicity of dress and pose; in profile against a dark-green tapestry
patterned with light green, and red and white flowers. The usual
scholar's cap covers his grey hair. The blue-grey eyes are glancing down
at his writing. Studies for the marvellously painted hands are among the
Louvre drawings. The very Self of the man--the lean, strong, _thinking_
countenance,--the elusive smile, shrewd, ironical, yet kindly, stealing
out on his lips,--is alive here by some necromancy of art.

  Illustration: PLATE 14
 _Oils. The Louvre_

The portrait now in the Basel Museum, in oils on paper, afterwards
fastened to the panel, is in all likelihood that third portrait which
Erasmus told Pirkheimer the painter himself had taken to France. So
that Holbein must have painted it for, and carried it to, Bonifacius
Amerbach, who was then, in 1524, finishing a renewed course of study at
Avignon. Probably it was during this visit to France, too, that he made
the spirited sketches of monuments at Bourges. In that case it would
seem that he struck across by way of Dijon to the Cathedral City, in
connection with some matter not now to be discovered, and from there
took the great highway to Avignon by way of Lyons; carrying with him the
gift of his sketches from the monuments of Duke Jehan of Berri and his
wife. These were treasured in Amerbach's collection.

Whatever the reason that sent him abroad on this journey,--whether
unhappiness at home or the troubled state of public affairs during the
Peasants' War of 1524 and 1525,--or whether he simply had business in
France which delayed him there for a year or two--at all events, all
records fail as to his wanderings or work in this long interval. And
many circumstances go to show that it was at this time that he entered
upon the immortal work which was published at Lyons, by the Trechsel
Brothers, many years later;--those "Images of Death" which have borrowed
the old name in popular parlance, and are generally called Holbein's
"Dance" of Death.

Just why the Trechsels did not issue the publication until 1538 it is
impossible to say. As one of the largest Catholic publishing-houses of
France, they would be governed by circumstances entirely outside of
Holbein's history or control. But more than one circumstance presses the
conclusion that the designs were made between 1523 and 1526. And there
is a certain amount of evidence for the belief that they may have been
first struck off in Germany, possibly by some one of the multifarious
connections of the Trechsels, as early as 1527. But this is a large
subject, not to be dealt with as an aside.

All the world knows these wonderful designs; their beauty of line, power
of expression, and sparkling fancy. Among them all there are only two
where Death is a figure of violence; and but one,--the knight, transfixed
by one fell, malignant stroke from behind--where Death exhibits positive
ferocity. In both of these,--the Count, beaten down by his own great
coat-of-arms, is the other,--it is easy to read a reflection of the
actualities of the Peasants' War then raging.

For the rest, the grim skeleton wears no unkind smile; though that he
_is_ Death makes it look a ghastly-enough pleasantry. But toward the
poor and the aged he is better than merry; he is kind. His fleshless
hand is raised in benediction over the aged woman; and the bent
patriarch leans on his arm, listening to Death's attendant playing the
sweet old melodies of Long-Ago as he stands on the verge of the great

But where a selection must be made, there are two drawings with their
own special claim to consideration. These are the Ploughman and the
Priest (Plates 14 and 15). The former has been cited by Ruskin as an
example of a perfect design for wood-engraving; but even higher than its
art, to my thinking, is its feeling. To the labourer of this sort,--poor,
patient, toilworn,--Holbein's heart is very gentle. And so is Death--who
muffles up his harsh features and speeds the heavy plough with a step
like that of Hope. And at the end of the long, last uphill furrow, see
how the setting sun shines on "God's Acre!"

  Illustration: PLATE 15
 _"Images of Death" Woodcut series_

 _"Images of Death" Woodcut series_

The second selection, the Priest, is its own proof, if any were needed,
of how sharply Holbein distinguished cloth from cloth. In it, nearly a
decade after he had pointed Erasmus's satire on the unworthy prelate or
the unclean friar, may plainly be read that reverence for the true
priest which Holbein shared with all his best friends. In the quaint,
quiet street this solemn procession is too familiar a sight to draw any
spectator from the hearth where the fire of the Living is blazing
so cheerily. The good Father, very lovingly drawn, casts his kind
glance around as he passes on his Office with the veiled Pyx carried
reverently. Before him goes Death, his Server, hastening the last mercy
with eager steps. Under his arm is the tiny glass that has measured the
whole of a mortality; the sands have lost their moving charm, and all
their dazzle makes but a little shadow now. In his hand is the bell that
sounds Take heed, Take heed, to the careless; and Pardon, Peace, to
dying ears that strain to hear it. But largest of all his symbols is the
lamp in his right hand; his own lamp, the lamp that dissipates Earth's
last shadows--the Light of Death.

Holbein must have had his own solemn memories of the Last Office as he
drew this picture of the good parish priest. For it was just about this
time that the Viaticum must have been administered to his father. In
1526 the then Burgomaster of Basel wrote to the monastery at Issenheim,
where Hans Holbein the Elder had left his painting implements behind him
years before, in which he recalls to the Fathers how vainly and how
often "our citizen," Hans the Younger, had applied to get these costly
materials restored to their owner during his life; or to himself as his
father's heir afterwards. This application was no more successful than
Holbein's own, apparently; and the painter was told to seek his father's
gold and pigments among the peasants who had pillaged the monastery.

By 1526 Holbein was back in Basel; but two works of this year would go
to show that he was little less separated from his wife in Basel than
when away. The first of these, about one-third life-size, is a portrait
of a woman with a child beside her who grasps an arrow to suggest the
Goddess of Love attended by a wingless Cupid (Plate 16). The little
red-haired child does not do much to realise the ideal; but the woman,
though not an ideal Venus, might nevertheless well pose as a man's
goddess. A "fair" woman in more senses than her colouring. Her dark-red
velvet dress slashed with white; wide sleeves of dusky gold-coloured
silk; her close-fitting black head-dress embroidered with gold; the soft
seduction of her look; the welcoming gesture of that pretty palm flung
outward as if to embrace; these are all in keeping.

  Illustration: PLATE 16
 _Oils. Basel Museum_

This was a lady whose past career might have warned a lover that
whatever she might prove as a goddess, she could play but a fallen
angel's part. The annals of Basel knew her only too well. This was
Dorothea, the daughter of a knight of good old lineage,--Hans von
Offenburg. But the knight died while she was quite young, and her
mother, better famed for looks than conduct, married the girl to a
debauched young aristocrat,--Joachim von Sultz. His own record is
hardly less shameless than Dorothea's soon became,--though the latter
is chiefly in archives of the "unspeakable" sort. At the time when this
picture was painted she must have been about two-and-twenty.

Unhappy Holbein, indeed! The temper of Xantippe herself, if she be but
the decent mother of one's children, might work less havoc with a life
than this embroidered cestus. But "the German Apelles" was no Greek
voluptuary, ambitious in heathen vices, such as that other Apelles
whose painting of Venus was said to be his masterpiece. And when
Holbein inscribed his second portrait of Dorothea with the words LAÏS
CORINTHIACA, the midsummer madness must have been already a matter of
scorn and wonder to himself. His whole life and the works of his life
are the negation of the groves of Corinth.

The paint was not long dry on the Goddess of Love--at any rate, her
dress was not worn out--before he had seen her in her true colours; "the
daughter of the horse-leech, crying Give, Give."

And so he painted her in 1526 (Plate 17); to scourge himself, surely,
since she was too notoriously infamous to be affected by it. As if in
stern scorn of every beauty, every allure, he set himself to record
them in detail: something in the spirit with which Macaulay set himself,
"by the blessing of God," to do "full justice" to the poems of Montgomery.
Laïs is far more beautiful, and far more beautifully painted, than
Venus. No emotion has hurried the painter's hand or confused his eye
this time. In vain she wears such sadness in her eyes, such pensive
dignity of attitude, such a wistful smile on her lips. He knows them,
now, for false lights on the wrecker's coast. No faltering; no turning
back. He can even fit a new head-dress on the lovely hair, and add the
puffed sleeves below the short ones. He is a painter now; not a lover.
And lest there should be one doubt as to his purpose, he flings a heap
of gold where "Cupid's" little hand would now seem desecrated, and
inscribes beneath it the name that fits her beauty and his contempt.
The plague was raging in Basel all through that spring and summer,
but I doubt if Holbein shuddered at its contact as at the loveliness he
painted. The brand he placed upon it is proof of that--Laïs Corinthiaca,
the infamous mistress of the Greek Apelles.

  Illustration: PLATE 17
 _Oils. Basel Museum_

But in 1526 men sat among the ashes of far goodlier palaces and larger
interests than personal ones. The party in power was not friendlier to
Art than to the Church of Rome. In January the Painters' Guild had
presented a petition to the Council,--humbly praying that its members,
"who had wives and children depending on their work," might be allowed
to pursue it in Basel! And so hard was Holbein himself hit by the
fanatical excitement of the time that the Council's account-books show
the paltry wage he was glad to earn for painting a few shields on some
official building "in the borough of Waldenburg."

Small wonder that an artist such as Holbein should feel his heart grow
sick within him, and should turn his thoughts with increasing
determination to some fresh field. Even without the bitterness that now
must have edged the tongue of a wronged wife, or the bitterer taste of
Dead Sea fruit in his own mouth,--he must have been driven to try his
luck elsewhere. And of all the invitations urged upon him, the chances
which Erasmus's introductions could give him in England would probably
offer the greatest promise.

But before he set out with these letters, in the late summer of 1526, he
executed yet one more great commission for his old friend, Jacob Meyer
zum Hasen, now leader of the Catholic party in opposition. This was the
work known now to all the civilised world as "The Meyer Madonna." For
centuries the beautiful picture which bears this name in the Dresden
Gallery has been cited by every expert authority and critic as this
work. But since the mysterious appearance of the Darmstadt painting,
which suddenly turned up in a Paris art collector's possession, from no
one knows where in 1822, the tide of belief has slowly receded from the
Dresden painting. Until now there are only a few judges who do not
hold--especially since the public comparison of the two works at Dresden
in 1871--that the Dresden picture is "a copy by an inferior hand."

Unquestionably the painting now in the Schloss at Darmstadt is the
earlier version. And unquestionably, too, the changes introduced in the
Dresden copy,--the elevated architecture, slenderer figures, and less
happy Child,--are so great as to lend weight to the arguments of those
who still claim that no copyist would ever have made them. But, as has
been said, the contention that the Dresden work is a replica by Holbein
of the older Darmstadt altar-piece, is now maintained by only a very
small minority of judges. The painting of the Darmstadt work is admitted
by all to be more uniformly admirable, more completely carried out;
the details more finished (except in the case of the Virgin), and the
colours richer and more harmonious. Yet both works should be studied to
appreciate fully their claims and differences (Plates 18 and 19).

  Illustration: PLATE 18
 _Oils. Grand Ducal Collection, Darmstadt_

  Illustration: PLATE 19
  [_Later Version. Held by many to be a copy_]
 _Oils. Dresden Gallery_

In the Darmstadt work the Virgin's dress is wholly different in tone
from her robe at Dresden; otherwise the colouring aims to be the same
in each. Here, in the original altar-piece, it is a greenish-blue. The
lower sleeves are golden, a line of white at the wrist, and a filmier
one within the bodice. Her girdle is a rich red; her mantle a
greenish-grey. Over this latter her fair hair streams like softest
sunshine. Above her noble, pity-full face sits her crown of fine gold
and pearls.

The woman kneeling nearest to the Madonna is commonly believed to be
Meyer's first wife, who had died in 1511, the mother of one child--a
daughter--by a previous husband. Between this stepdaughter and Meyer
there was considerable litigation over her property. The younger woman,
whose chin-cloth is dropped in the painting though worn like the others
in the drawing for her portrait, is Meyer's second wife, Dorothea
Kannegiesser, whom he married about 1512, and with whom he was painted
by Holbein in 1516. The sombre garments of both women are echoed by the
black of Meyer's hair and coat, the latter lined with light-brown fur.
Meyer's face, in its manly intensity of devotional feeling, is a
wonderful piece of psychology in the Darmstadt picture.

In the drawing for the young girl, Anna Meyer, who kneels beside her
mother with a red rosary in her hands, she has her golden-brown hair
hanging loose down her back, as befits a girl of thirteen. But in
the painting it is coiled in glossy braids beneath some ceremonial
head-dress; this is richly embroidered with pearls, with red silk tassel
and a wreath of red and white flowers above it. This head-dress is
painted with much more beautiful precision in the older work, and the
expression of the girl's face is much more deeply devout; her hands,
too, are decidedly superior to those of the Dresden work.

This is true also of the carpet, patterned in red and green, with
touches of white and black, on a ground of deep yellow. The Dresden
carpet is conspicuously inferior in finish and colour to that of
Darmstadt, so much so that Waagen and others, who believe the former a
replica, think a pupil or assistant may have been responsible for this
and other details, which for some reason Holbein himself was unable to

The elder boy, with the tumbled brown hair, dressed in a light-brown
coat trimmed with red-brown velvet, and hose of cinnabar-red, with
decorations of gold clasps and tags on fine blue cords, has a
yellowish-green portemonnaie, with tassels of dull blue hanging from his
girdle. All the carnations are superb, and in the Darmstadt picture the
infant Christ wears a sweet and happy smile. In that of Dresden He looks
sad and ill; a fact which has given rise to the theory Ruskin
adopted--that the Virgin had put down the divine Child and taken up
Meyer's ailing one. But the absence of wonder on the faces of Meyer's
family, and, indeed, the familiar affection of the elder boy, would of
itself negative this theory. I have my own ideas as to this point, but
it would serve no useful purpose to go into them in this place. Of these
two sons of Meyer there is no other record. Anna alone survived her
mother, who married again after Meyer's death. Anna's daughter married
Burgomaster Remigius Fäsch, or Fesch, whose grandson--Remigius Fäsch,
counsellor-at-law--was the well-known art collector whose collection and
manuscript are also in the Basel Museum, where there is an oil-copy of
the Dresden Meyer-Madonna.

Even the cool eye of Walpole was warmed by this great work of 1526, as
he saw it in the Dresden painting then hanging in the Palazzo Delfino
at Venice. "For the colouring," he exclaims, "it is beautiful beyond
description; and the carnations have that enamelled bloom so peculiar to
Holbein, who touched his works till not a touch remained discernible."
Twenty years earlier Edward Wright had written of Meyer's youngest
boy--"The little naked boy could hardly have been outdone, if I may
dare to say such a word, by Raphael himself." And in our own day that
fine and measured critic, Mrs. Jameson, has spoken for generation upon
generation who have thought the same thought before the Meyer-Madonna
of Dresden, when she says of it: "In purity, dignity, humility and
intellectual grace this exquisite Madonna has never been surpassed; not
even by Raphael. The face, once seen, haunts the memory."

When Wright and Walpole saw this Dresden work at Venice, it was supposed
to be "the family of Sir Thomas More"--_Meier_ having slipped into
"More" in the course of centuries, which had retained only the vivid
impression of Holbein's association with the latter, and knew that
the painter had drawn him in the midst of his family. That living
association was now, late in the summer of this year, about to begin.




  First visit to England--Sir Thomas More; his home and portraits--The
  Windsor drawings--Bishop Fisher--Archbishop Warham--Bishop
  Stokesley--Sir Henry Guildford and his portrait--Nicholas
  Kratzer--Sir Bryan Tuke--Holbein's return to Basel--Portrait-group of
  his wife and two eldest children; two versions--Holbein's children,
  and families claiming descent from him--Iconoclastic fury--Ruined
  arts--Death of Meyer zum Hasen--Another Meyer commissions the
  last paintings for Basel--Return to England--Description of the
  Steelyard--Portraits of its members--George Gysze--Basel Council
  summons Holbein home--"The Ambassadors" at the National Gallery;
  accepted identification--Coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn--Lost paintings
  for the Guildhall of the Steelyard; the Triumphs of Riches and
  Poverty--The great Morett portrait; identifications--Holbein's industry
  and fertility--Designs for metal-work and other drawings--Solomon and
  the Queen of Sheba.

Two years earlier Erasmus had evidently thought that London was the
true stage for such a genius as Holbein's, and More had written that
he would gladly do all he could to further the painter's success if
he should decide to visit England. More himself called Holbein "a
marvellous artist" for his portrait of Erasmus, and could not but be
delighted with the beautiful little woodcut which opened Froben's
edition of his own _Utopia_.

This illustration represents More and his only son seated with Ægidius,
or Peter Gillis, in the latter's own garden at Antwerp, listening to the
tale of _Utopia_ from the ancient comrade of Amerigo Vespucci. And very
likely Holbein himself sat in this garden, in the late summer of 1526,
when he was passing through Antwerp to England. He had a letter of
introduction from Erasmus to Ægidius, as also to the host who was
expecting him in England--Sir Thomas More.

Van Mander says that long before this the Earl of Arundel, when pausing
at Basel, had been so much pleased with Holbein's works in that city
that he had urged the painter to forsake it for London. But it would
pretty surely have been the promise of More's influence which actually
induced him to try his fortune so far afield. And by the autumn of 1526
he was one of that happy company which the genial soul of More drew
around him in his new home in "Chelsea Village," where Beaufort Row now
has its north end. Here the master's love of every art, and aptitude in
affairs, filled his hospitable mansion with wit and music and joyous
strenuousness. Here he was the idol of his family, as well as the King's
friend. Henry himself must surely have shuddered could he have pictured
that face, over which thought and humour were ever chasing one another
like sun and shadow on the lawn, black above London Bridge and flung at
last from it into the Thames only a few years hence. Now it turned to
his own all life and loyalty, as he laid his arm around More's shoulders
while they wandered between the garden beds of Chelsea.

Early in 1527, probably, Holbein had finished the fine portrait of his
host, which is now in Mr. Huth's collection. The study for this oil
painting is among the Windsor drawings (Plate 20), as also one for
the large family picture now lost, if indeed it was ever completed by
Holbein; a matter of some doubt, notwithstanding Van Mander's account
of it in the possession of the art-collector Van Loo. An outline sketch
of it, or for it, he certainly made. And that precious pen-and-ink
outline,--with the name of each written above or below the figure
in More's hand, and notes as to alterations to be made in the final
composition in Holbein's hand,--is now in the Basel Museum; having come
into Amerbach's possession as the heir of Erasmus.

  Illustration: PLATE 20
 _Chalks. Windsor Castle_

In Mr. Huth's oil portrait More is wearing a dark-green coat trimmed
with fur, and showing the purple sleeves of his doublet beneath. His
eyes are grey-blue. He never wore a beard, made the fashion by Henry
VIII. at the same time that the head was "polled,"--a singularly ugly
combination,--until he was in the Tower and grew that beard which he
smilingly swept away from the path of the executioner's axe. "It," he
said with astonishing self-possession, could be "accused of no treason."
In 1527, however, no shadow of tragedy seemed possible unless the
suspicion of it slept in More's own heart when he said to his son-in-law,
in answer to some flattering congratulation on the King's favour, "Son
Roper, if my head could win him a castle in France, my head should

But for these superb drawings in the Royal Collection at Windsor, we
should know nothing at all of many a portrait Holbein painted--all
among the immediate friends of More and Erasmus on this first visit
to England; nor, for that matter, of many a portrait painted in later
years. And how little these can be trusted to tell the whole tale of
achievement is shown by the fact that they include no studies for a
number of oil paintings that are still in existence.

  Illustration: PLATE 21
 _Chalks. Windsor Castle_

Of the drawings which represent a lost painting, there is a noble one of
Bishop Fisher, whose execution preceded More's by only a few weeks. A
literally venerable head it was (Plate 21), to be the shuttlecock of
papal defiance and royal determination not to be defied with impunity.
For assuredly if the life of the Bishop of Rochester hung in the
balance, as it did, in May, 1535, it was Paul III.'s mad effrontery
in making him a Cardinal while he was actually in the Tower under his
sovereign's displeasure which heated the King's anger to white-hot
brutality. "Let the Pope send him a hat," he thundered, "but I will so
provide that he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head he shall have
none to set it on!" And on the 17th of that June he made good the savage
oath. Yet the painter, after all, has been more potent than the King.
For here lives Fisher. Bishop or Cardinal this is the man, as More loved

A striking and richly painted oil portrait of Erasmus's "Mæcenas,"
Archbishop Warham, is in the Louvre; of which there are a number of
copies, as well as a replica, at Lambeth Palace. The latter was
exhibited at Manchester in 1857. The study for these portraits is among
the Windsor drawings. The painting in the Louvre has more vividness in
the carnations, and the impasto is thicker than at Lambeth; otherwise
the two are identical. But for myself I find a more seizing quality in
the chalk drawing than in either. There is something in its sunken
fading eyes that speaks of the majesty of office as well as its burdens.

Holbein painted a prelate of a very different sort in the oil portrait
of John Stokesley, Bishop of London, which is preserved at Windsor
Castle. And yet he dared to paint the Truth--now as always. The painting
is a masterpiece of modelling and soft transparency of light and shade.
But the truculent, lowering countenance leaves small doubt that the
sitter was a gentleman pre-eminently "gey ill to live wi'."

There is another oil painting at Windsor which has not escaped the
injuries of time, but is none the less a splendid survival of 1527. This
is the portrait of Sir Henry Guildford, Master of the Horse to Henry
VIII., and holder of many another office of trust (Plate 22). It has
sometimes been thought that the yellow tone of the complexion was due to
over-painting, but the chalk drawing shows that it was a personal

Sir Henry, a warm friend to both More and Erasmus, was forty-nine when
he sat for this portrait. Under his black fur-trimmed surcoat he wears
a doublet of gold brocade. In his hand is the wand of office as
Chamberlain, and he is decorated with the collar and badge of the

He was always a great favourite with the King from the time when the
latter came to the throne and young Guildford, then twenty, was one of
the gayest, bravest, most loyal spirits about it. Always as ready for a
real battle as a mimic one; as clever at writing plays for the King's
amusement as at acting in them; as good in a revel as at a piece of
diplomacy; it is not much wonder that his knighthood in 1512 should but
have been the prelude to a long series of promotions.

  Illustration: PLATE 22
 _Oils. Windsor Castle_

The affection of master and man, too, was singularly sincere for a
court. Sir Henry loyally supported the King's demand for a divorce, but
he was by no means ready to support a second marriage without the papal
preliminary. Hence he was not a persona grata to Anne Boleyn. Nor
would he stoop to curry favour at the expense of an honest conviction.
When Anne warned him that he was likely to lose his office as soon as
she became Queen, he promptly replied that he would spare her all
concern about that, and went straight to the King to resign the office
of Controller. The latter showed the depth of his affection by urging
Sir Henry, twice, to reconsider his determination. But he wisely
preferred to quit his apartments under the King's roof,--without,
however, breaking the bond of mutual attachment. Five years after this
picture was painted he died; in May, 1532. Holbein also painted Lady
Guildford's portrait; an oil painting in Mr. Frewer's collection. And
Sir Henry selected him as one of the chief artists commissioned to
decorate the interior of the Banqueting Hall specially erected for the
celebration of the French Alliance in 1527. By all of which it would
seem that in securing a new patron the painter had once more made a

Erasmus had asked Ægidius to assist Holbein's success in any way he
could. And it was probably owing to a letter from the Antwerp scholar
that a friendship of many years sprang up between the painter and
Nicholas Kratzer of Munich, then Astronomer-Royal at the Court of Henry
VIII. It began with what was once a fine portrait. But the oil painting,
now in the Louvre (Plate 23), has suffered such severe injuries as to be
but a poor ghost of what it was originally. Only the composition, and
the fidelity with which all his friend's scientific instruments are drawn
attest Holbein. He never adds a detail for merely pictorial purposes;
and never shuffles one that concerns the personality of a sitter. No
biographer with his pen sets every straw to show the winds of character
and circumstance more deliberately than does this historian with his
brush. Something of Kratzer's shrewd wit,--for he was a "character"--can
still be read in his half-destroyed picture. Years later we shall
see the intimate friend of both him and his painter writing of the
astronomer as a man "brim-full" of humour and fancy. And once, we may be
sure, it sparkled in the eyes of Kratzer's portrait as brilliantly as in
his own.

  Illustration: PLATE 23
 _Oils. The Louvre_

In the Munich Gallery there is another portrait in oils which has
undergone, if possible, still more atrocious treatment than Kratzer's;
yet, like it, still keeps enough of its original charm to rivet attention
in any company. This latter is one of the most striking of the
half-dozen portraits of Sir Bryan Tuke, which all claim, with more or
less of probability, to be paintings by Holbein. And certainly in the
years when Sir Bryan was Treasurer of the King's Household it would be
natural that the painter, whose salary he regularly disbursed, should
gladly oblige him to his utmost.

But the Munich portrait also shows a far deeper bond of interests than
one of money. The undercurrent of their natures ran in a groove of more
than common sympathy; and to an analyst, such as Holbein was, the
reflections behind these inscrutable eyes were full of unusual

Myself, I feel convinced, for more than one reason, that it is a work of
some years later. But as a consensus of authorities places it during
this visit, the picture is noticed here. It gains rather than loses by
reproduction;--since the painting now shows a strange disagreeable
colour most unlike the carnations of Holbein. But the composition is
unmistakable (Plate 24). Between the sitter and the green-curtained
background stands perhaps the ghastliest of all Holbein's skeletons,--one
hand on his scythe, the other grimly pointing at the nearly-spent sands
of the hour-glass. Below the latter is a tablet on which, in Latin, are
the words of Job: "My short life, does it not come to an end soon?" and
the signature without the date. Sir Bryan wears a fur-trimmed doublet
with gold buttons; the gold-patterned sleeves revealed by the black silk
gown, also trimmed with fur. On a massive gold chain he wears a cross of
great richness, enamelled with the pierced Hands and Feet. Fine lawn is
at throat and wrists; and in one hand he holds his gloves.

  Illustration: PLATE 24
 _Oils. Munich Gallery_

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the researches of Eduard His, it used to be sometimes said that
Holbein had virtually deserted his family when he left Basel in 1526. We
know now, however, that whatever were the moral wrongs which he suffered
or committed, he never forsook the duty of providing for his wife and
children in no ungenerous proportion to his means.

The records show that the fruit of his two years' industry was used to
acquire a comfortable home which remained the property of his wife. And
the inventory of its contents at Elsbeth's death, some six years after
Holbein's death, proves that this home was to the full as well furnished
and comfortable as was usual with people of similar condition.

In the summer of 1528 the painter bade farewell for ever to Sir Thomas
More's gracious Chelsea home. He took with him the pen-and-ink sketch
for a large picture of More in the midst of his family, which has been
already referred to. This was for Erasmus, who had temporarily abandoned
Basel,--now so utterly unlike the Basel of former years,--and had sought
the more sympathetic atmosphere of Freiburg. Bonifacius Amerbach, from
the same causes, was here with Erasmus for some time. So that something
like the old Froben days must have seemed still about them as the three
friends sat together and talked of all that had come and gone.

But by the latter part of August Holbein was back in that now
sadly-altered Basel whence his best friends were reft by trouble or
death. And on the 29th of August, 1528, he bought the house next to
Froben's _Buchhaus_, the deed attesting that he did so in person, in
company with Elsbeth. The price, 300 guldens or florins, was by no means
the small one it now seems, nor could the painter pay the whole sum at
once. He paid down one-third, and secured the rest by a mortgage. The
site of this house is now occupied by 22 St. Johann Vorstadt. Three
years later, March 28th, 1531, Holbein bought out a disagreeable
neighbour; and thus added to his two-storied house overlooking the
Rhine the little one-storied cottage which cost him only seventy
guldens. The factory at No. 20 now partially covers this latter site.
Fifty years ago both of the original houses were still standing; quaint,
crumbling, affecting monuments of days when Holbein's voice and
Holbein's step rang through their rooms, when Frau Elsbeth swept and
garnished them; and when four children added their links to the chain of
a marriage which Holbein was now manfully trying to make the best of.

It must have been in the year after the purchase of the larger house
that he painted the group of his wife and the two children she had then
borne him. This life-size group, done in oils on paper, is now in the
Basel Museum (Plate 25). The stoical sincerity with which they are
represented, and the hard outline produced by cutting out the work to
mount it on its wood panel, makes a somewhat repellent impression at the
first glance. And this is in no way dispersed by studying Elsbeth's
traits. But the painting itself is a tour-de-force. By sheer Quality
Holbein has invested these portraits,--a middle-aged, coarse-figured,
unamiable-looking woman, a very commonplace infant, and a bright-faced
boy,--with the prestige inseparable from an achievement of a high

  Illustration: PLATE 25
 _Oils. Basel Museum_

Clearly Elsbeth Holbein was not one to give up the costume of her youth
simply because she would have been well advised to do so; and the cut
and fashion of her dress remains almost identical with the drawing in
the Louvre. Her lustreless light-brown hair is covered with a gauzy veil
and a reddish-brown cap. Her brown stuff upper garment, trimmed with
thin fur, shows a dark-green dress beneath it. The baby wears a gown of
undyed woollen material, and the boy a jacket of dark bluish green.

Out of such unpromising materials has the painter made a picture that
would challenge attention among any. If we knew nothing as to the
identity of this woman, sitting oblivious of the children at her knee,
wrapped in her own dark thoughts, we should certainly want to know
something of her story and of the story of the little fellow whose eyes
are breathlessly intent upon some purer, sweeter vision. There is at
Cologne, in a private collection, a deeply interesting duplicate of
this work; also on paper afterwards mounted on wood, but not cut out.
Unfortunately this latter has suffered such irremediable injuries that
it is quite impossible now to pronounce upon its claim to be either the
earlier example or a replica; but good judges have believed it to be by
Holbein. Its chief interest, however, from a biographical point of view,
may be said to lie in the sixteenth-century writing pasted on at the
top. Literally translated, this runs--

  "Love towards God consists in Charity.
  Who hath this love can feel no hate."[5]

It is difficult to see on what grounds Woltmann, who was inclined to
accept the picture as genuine, should hold the inscription to have
been added by someone desirous of increasing the value of the work by
representing it to be an allegorical picture of Charity. There was never
a time when the allegory, if accepted, could have carried the same value
as the portraits. And surely the second line is utterly inconsistent
with the theory. Original or not, it has a very startling likeness to a
plea which Holbein himself must have urged more than once, to soften a
bitterness his own errors could not have tended to cure.

When the Basel painting was cut out to be mounted, the last numeral was
lost; so that it now stands dated 152-. But all the other facts put it
beyond question that the picture could not have been done before 1529.
The baby of 1522 was now the boy of seven, and his successor would seem
to have been born during the first months of its father's visit to
England, and to be now some eighteen months old.

It may be as well to say here, once for all, as much as need be said of
Holbein's family. As already stated, his wife survived him by six years,
dying at Basel in 1549. By her first marriage she had one son, Franz
Schmidt--who seems to have been a worthy and successful man of trade.
She was the mother of four children by her marriage with Holbein;--Philip,
born 1522; Katharina, 1527; Jacob, about 1530; and Künegoldt, about

Some years before the painter's death he took Philip Holbein to Paris,
and there apprenticed him to the eminent goldsmith, Jerome David, with
whom he remained until a couple of years after Holbein's death. Later,
he somehow drifted to Lisbon, where he followed his trade until he
settled in the old home of his grandfather and great-grandfather,
Augsburg. In 1611 his son, Philip Holbein, junior, then "Imperial Court
Jeweller" at Augsburg, petitioned the Emperor Matthias for letters
patent to "confirm" his right to certain noble arms. The claims put
forward in this document are utterly at variance with the received
belief in Holbein's humble Augsburg origin. Yet the most expert
investigators who have carefully studied this subject agree in thinking
that this grandson based the genealogical tree on mythical foundations,
and therefore planted it remote from Augsburg itself. But be this as it
may--and it seems hard to reconcile such discrepancies within a century
of the time when both Hans Holbein the Elder and his son were well-known
citizens of Augsburg,--the application was successful. Mechel says that
this Philip, who claims descent from the renowned "painter of Basel,"
lived in Vienna during his later years; and that a descendant of his
again got their patent "confirmed" in 1756, with the right to carry the
surname of _Holbeinsberg_; also that this latter descendant was made a
Knight of the Empire in 1787, as the noble _von Holbeinsberg_. So much
for the eldest branch, that of Philip Holbein.

The younger boy, Jacob, was a goldsmith in London after Holbein's death.
The evidence seems to show that he was never here previous to that
event,--which of itself may have first occasioned his coming, though
hardly at the time, as Jacob was not more than thirteen at his father's
death. A document in existence proves that he also died in London, about
1552, and apparently unmarried; at which time his elder brother, Philip,
was still in Lisbon.

Katharina, the elder daughter, the baby of the Basel painting, seems to
have left no descendants. She married a butcher of Basel and died in
1590. And in the same year, very likely from one of the frequent
epidemics so fatal to Basel, died Künegoldt, Elsbeth's youngest child.
The Merian family of Frankfurt-am-Main claims an hereditary right to
the artistic gifts of its famous copper-engraver, Mathew Merian, as
descendants of Holbein through this daughter Künegoldt, who, when she
died, was the wife of Andreas Syff, a miller, of Basel. According to
the greatest authority on this subject, Eduard His, to whose exhaustive
researches we owe almost all that is known of Holbein's family, the
Merian claims have not, so far, been proved by actual archives; but he
is of opinion that there is considerable circumstantial evidence to
support their claim to be lineal descendants of Holbein through the
female line.

But in 1529, when the family group was painted, neither Jacob nor
Künegoldt were yet born; and the painter was much more concerned with
the anxieties of a living father than with the shadowy cares of an

And dark enough was the outlook in Basel, where the Lutheran agitation
had, as Erasmus said, "frozen the arts." Before Holbein came back from
England many churches had abjured all pictures. The tide of religious
antagonism had, as we know, driven both Erasmus and Bonifacius Amerbach
for a time to a Catholic stronghold; and had driven their old friend
Meyer to do literal battle on behalf of the Church.

Altar paintings were out of the question. And Holbein could but devote
himself to designs for the printers and for goldsmiths. Many beautiful
compositions for both crafts remain to testify of his matured powers
and constant industry. The exquisite designs for dagger-sheaths, in
particular, are rightly counted among the treasures of art. But in the
summer of 1530 came a commission for the painter's last great work in
Basel. This was the long-delayed order for the decoration of that vacant
wall in the Council Hall, which adjoined the house _zum Hasen_.

Oddly enough, this commission also came officially through a
burgomaster, Jacob Meyer. But the Meyer of 1530, Meyer "of-the-Stag"
(_zum Hirten_), had neither blood nor sentiments in common with the
Meyer under whom Holbein had done his first work in the Rathaus. Each
headed a party at deadly issue. For the past year Meyer-of-the-Hare had
vainly tried to turn back the clock or to stay the iconoclastic fury
of the hour. Religious fanaticism had wrecked him as well as every
beautiful piece of art on which it could lay its hands. And now at last
it mattered nothing any more so far as he was concerned. The dreadful
harvests that had brought virtual famine, the earthquake shocks which
had unsettled many a mental as well as material foundation, the flooding
devastations of the Birsig, the rage of Canton against Canton, the Civil
War ready to begin, Pope or Luther come by his own,--it was all one at
last to Meyer zum Hasen, who died just as his protégé of earlier years
was commissioned to paint the blank wall.

But something of his spirit, something of what he himself had been
preaching to Basel in warning and threat for years, seems to have passed
on into the pictures Holbein set before the Council. The paintings,
alas! are no more. But a fragment or two and the drawings for them show
how truly grand the two works were which Holbein had probably already
intended should be his swan-song as Holbein _Basiliensis_. He chose for
his subjects Rehoboam's answer to the suffering Israelites: "My little
finger shall be thicker than my father's loins; my father hath chastised
you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions"; and Samuel
prophesying to Saul how dearly he shall learn that "Rebellion is as the
sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as an iniquity and idolatry."

Both subjects are treated in the Great manner. Rehoboam, leaning forward
from his throned seat with flashing eyes, and his little finger seeming
actually to quiver in the air, is wonderfully conceived. But the meeting
of Samuel and Saul (Plate 26) most splendidly demonstrates how far
Holbein towered above mere portraiture when he had the opportunity. To
picture this drawing in all the beauty of colour is to realise what we
have lost, and what his just fame has lost, with the utter destruction
of such works.

  Illustration: PLATE 26
 _Behold to obey is better than sacrifice_
 _Washed Drawing. Basel Museum_

Not the greatest of the Italians could have improved upon the
distribution and balance of this composition. The blazing background,
the sense of a densely crowded host beyond what the eye can grasp, of
captives and captors--all the stupendous crackle and roar and shout
and sudden strained silence of Saul's immediate followers--is amply
matched by those two typical protagonists, just then repeating the old
drama with varying fortunes on the world's new stage. The Secular Arm
has been short in the service of God, as interpreted by his Vicar; it
has thought, in Saul's person, to win the cause, yet spare its enemies.
Vain is it for him to run with humility, to tell what he has won and
what overcome and done. He has not destroyed All--root and branch. For
reasons of personal policy, he has given quarter. And the Priest, for
God, will have none of his well-meaning excuses, of his good intentions,
his policy, his burnt offerings of half-way measures;--"Behold to obey
is better than sacrifice," begins his fierce anathema, "and to hearken
than the fat of rams."

Doubtless the Protestant party read its own meanings into these texts,
when once the pictures were painted and paid for with seventy-two good
guldens. But two very significant facts form their own commentary. One
is that the only employment he received from the Council afterward was
to redecorate the old Lällenkönig monstrosity on the bridge!--and the
other, that as soon as Holbein got his pay for this disgraceful
commission, a pay he was now much too hard pressed to refuse, he quietly
slipped away from Basel without taking the Council into his confidence.
Judging from his after conduct to his family, he probably left the
seventy-two guldens to support his wife and children--now four little
ones--until such time as he could send them more from England; and took
his way once more, in the late autumn of 1531, with knapsack and
paint-brushes for the journey, to a city that might give him few walls
to cover, but would certainly not set him to painting the town clock.

       *       *       *       *       *

Things had changed in London also, and gravely, Holbein found, since
he had quitted Sir Thomas More's home at Chelsea with the sketch for
Erasmus, in the summer of 1528. He had barely settled himself, in the
City this time, before the struggle between Henry VIII. and the English
Clergy ended in that Convocation when the latter made its formal
"Submission." And in the same month that this took place, Sir Henry
Guildford died. Then the three great Acts of Parliament, which swept
away the crying abuses of "Benefit of Clergy," resurrected the "dead"
lands (so called because perpetually _aliened in mortmain_) by restoring
them to the national circulation of the Sovereign-Will, and turned the
rich stream of Annates or "First-Fruits" of the bishoprics from the
Pope's coffers to the King's,--were passed in this year.

This legislation was followed by the solemn protest and then the death
of Archbishop Warham. So that now of that great and close quartet of
friends,--Colet, Warham, More, and Erasmus,--there were two on either
shore of the last crossing. And More could already see the dark river
ahead. His eye marked the consequences of the Acts as keenly as his aged
friend Warham had discerned them on his death-bed; and shortly after the
"Submission," More resigned his great office as Chancellor.

These seem matters too high to twist the threads of a poor painter's
life. But in reality Holbein's career was shaped, from many a year back,
by such events as rarely touch the humble individual directly. All his
friends and all his patrons in this country were carried far out of
reach by 1532; and he must sink or swim, as they in darker waters,
according to his own powers. That under such unexpected ill-fortune he
did not immediately sink was due to two things--the greatness of his
powers, and the circumstance that a trading-company of Continentals,
chiefly German, was seated in London with immense wealth and immense
influence at its disposal, and that they were men who knew how to
appreciate Holbein at his worth.

The roots of the Steelyard (_Stahlhof_), or "Stilyard," as it is often
called in early dramatists, go far back to the legendary centuries of
English history. From before the time of Alfred the Great, traders from
Germany had clustered together on the bank of the Thames, close to where
Cannon Street Station now stands. Amalgamation with the Hanseatic
League, and the necessities and gratitude of more than one king of
England--but especially of Edward IV.--had made of the Steelyard a
company such as only the East India Company of later centuries may
be compared to. With the world's new geography and new commercial
conditions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its methods and
its monopoly of the seas were gradually superseded by the great seamen
of the Elizabethan era. But in Holbein's time, though already some of
the Hanseatic ships were too overgrown to pass London Bridge and cast
anchor at their own docks just above it, there was scarce a cloud upon
the colossal prosperity of the Steelyard.

Its walled and turreted enclosure, able to withstand the fiercest
assaults of Wat Tyler's men, stretched from the river northward to
Thames Street, and from Allhallows Street on the east to Dowgate Street
on the west; and it might well have been described as a German city and
port situated in the heart of the City of London. Its massive front in
Thames Street, where were its three portcullised and fortified gateways
with German inscriptions above and the Imperial Double-Eagle high over
all, was one of the sights of London. And the Steelyard Tavern was a
famous resort. When Holbein knew it well the greatest prelates and
nobles and all the Court crowd,--which stretched its gardens and great
houses from the stream of the Fleet, just west of the City wall, to
Westminster Abbey,--used to flock to this Thames Street corner of the
Steelyard to drink Rhenish wine and eat smoked reindeer-tongue and

Within the gates stood the big Guildhall, which answered both for its
councils and its noted banquets. The high carved mantelpieces and
wainscotting served admirably to display the glittering plate and
strange souvenirs of every known land and sea. On the walls which
Holbein's works were so to enrich hung portraits of eminent members of
the Guild. The Hall was flanked by the huge stone kitchen and by a
strong-tower for the safeguarding of special valuables. In the open
space between the Hall and the west wall of the enclosure was the
garden, where trees and flowers and a greenery of vines had been planted
in exact imitation of the gardens of the Fatherland. And here sat
Holbein among the Associates, many a time, over their good cheer,--as in
the old Basel gardens of the Blume or the Stork in other years, and
heard only the German tongue or the songs of home around him.

Away down to the docks ran the lanes of warehouses; shops and booths
where every German trader or craftsman in London had his place; and
where the merchandise of the world--the greater part of it destined for
Lübeck as a centre of European distribution--might be sampled. Here were
choicest specimens of the then costly spices of Cathay, or the famous
falcons of Norway and Livonia, for which English sportsmen were willing
to pay fabulous prices.

As in other guilds, the government of this cosmopolitan beehive was that
of a despotic democracy. All the inmates of the precincts were subjected
to a rule little short of monastic in its strict discipline. The penalties
for any infringement, for drunkenness or dicing or even for an abusive
epithet, were very severe. The civic duties of the corporation, too,
were sharply defined. In case of war every member had his appointed post
in the defence of London. Every "master" had to keep the prescribed
accoutrements and arms ready for immediate use, and the repairs and
maintenance of the Bishop's Gate were at the sole cost of the Steelyard.

No chapel was erected within its enclosure, the Guild preferring to be
incorporated with the adjoining parish of Allhallows. Whether or not
there is any truth at the bottom of the ancient tradition that this
church had been originally founded by Germans, the Guild maintained its
own altar in it in Holbein's time, where Masses were said on its own
special days and festivals. So far are the facts from the common
supposition that the doctrines of Luther would find natural favour in
such a community, that the latter only gradually came into the "Church
of England" by the same slow processes which transformed the whole
parish around it. And when More, who was anything but _Utopian_ himself
in the practice of tolerating "heresy" during his chancellorship, headed
a domiciliary visit in search of Lutheran writings, he could find
nothing but orthodox German Prayer-books and the Scriptures, whose use
among laymen he always strenuously advocated; while every member of the
community was able to make honest and hearty oath at St. Paul's Cross
that no heretic or heretical doctrine would be tolerated amongst them.

Here, then, in this staunch citadel of his own faith, Holbein naturally
found a new circle of friends among whom it must have been strangely
easy to fancy himself back in the Fischmarkt of his young years, with
Froben and Erasmus and Amerbach and Meyer zum Hasen.

The curtain rings up on his work for the Steelyard,--work which covered
many years and more fine paintings than could even be enumerated
here--with a superlative exhibition of all his powers. The oil portrait
of Georg Gyze, or George Gisze, as it is often written, now in the
Berlin Gallery (Plate 27), inscribed 1532, has called forth the
enthusiastic eulogies of every competent judge. By a piece of rare good
fortune it is in perfect preservation. The black of the surcoat alone
has lost a little of its first lustre; all the rest is as though it had
left the easel but the other day.

  Illustration: PLATE 27
 _Oils. Berlin Museum_

The young merchant is seated among his daily surroundings in the
Steelyard. He is in the act of leisurely opening a letter addressed, "To
the hand of the honourable Jörg Gyze, my brother, in London, England"
(_Dem ersamen herrn Jörg Gyzen zu Lunden in Engelant meinem broder to
henden_). The merchant's motto, "No pleasure without care," is chalked
up in Latin on the background, with his signature beneath it. Written on
a paper stuck higher up is a Latin verse in praise of the portrait; also
the date, and the sitter's age--thirty-four. On the racks and shelves
are documents, books, keys, a watch and seals, and a pair of scales. A
gold ball is hanging from above with a lovely chasing in blue enamel; a
miracle of painting in itself, to say nothing of the exquisite Venetian
glass, filled with water and carnation-pinks. This flower has its own
meaning, and is introduced in more than one of Holbein's portraits. On
the rich oriental table-cloth are writing materials also, with
account-books, seal and scissors.

Gyze himself is a fair-haired man, wearing a brilliant red silk doublet
beneath his black cloak. And the amazing thing is that amidst this
bewildering array of pictures--for every article is such in itself,
owing to the perfection of its painting--Gyze is not lost or overridden
for a moment. It is unmistakably _his_ picture; and he dominates the
accessories as much as he did in reality. The man, the whole man, is
there; and the things are there around him; that is all. But that
the eye recognises this is the demonstration of the painter's own
mastership. It is as much Holbein's peculiar secret as are the cool
shadows, the luminous glow, the astounding elaboration, all made to
express the dignity of one, and but one, theme.

As has been said, the Steelyard portraits are too many to even catalogue
here, covering many years. But Gyze's may be taken as their high-water
mark. For that matter it could not, in its own way, be surpassed by
any portrait. Holbein himself greatly surpassed it in the matter of
subtle and noble simplicity, in his two greatest extant pieces of
portraiture--the Morett of Dresden and the Duchess of Milan, now
in our National Gallery. But in technical powers, and the power of
subordinating their very virtuosity to the requirement of a true
picture, this was a superlative expression of his matured method.

In the midst of all his fresh London successes came a summons from
Basel, which must have made the painter smile a little grimly. It had
slowly dawned on the Council that Holbein--whose renown they well knew
was a feather in Basel's cap--was proposing to make a prolonged absence.
The result was a decision which the Burgomaster officially conveyed to
him. Jacob Meyer zum Hirten wrote to say that Holbein was desired to
return immediately to resume the duties of a citizen-artist, and that
the Council, anxious to assist him in the support of his family, had
resolved to allow him an annuity of thirty guldens yearly "until
something better" could be afforded. Whether he replied in evasive
terms, or whether he let the Lällenkönig speak for him, is not on

By the time Holbein received this letter, written late in the autumn of
1532, he was plunged into a year of almost incredible activity. The
whole of it would hardly seem too long for one such painting as the
life-size double portrait--his largest extant portrait-painting--that
now belongs to the National Gallery: "The Ambassadors" (Plate 28).

At the extremities of a heavy table, something like a rude dinner-waggon,
are two full-length figures which show a curious reflection of his
early defect in their want of sufficient height. At the spectator's left
stands a richly-costumed individual, whose stalwart proportions, ruddy
complexion, and boldly ardent eye denote the perfection of vigorous
health, and are in striking contrast to the physique, colouring, and
expression of his companion. The former wears a black velvet doublet,
which reveals an under-garment of gleaming rose-red satin. Over all
is a black velvet mantle lined and trimmed with white fur. On his black
cap is a silver brooch which displays a skull. He wears a gold badge
exhibiting a mailed figure spearing a dragon suspended by a heavy gold
chain. The hilt of his sword is seen at his left hand, and his right
grasps a gold-sheathed dagger. On this latter is the inscription: ÆT.
SVÆ. 29; and from it depends a massive green-and-gold silk tassel,
incomparably painted.

  Illustration: PLATE 28
 _Oils. National Gallery_

As has been noted, the complexion of the man at our right is singularly
pallid; the eyes mournfully listless; the skin of his knuckles drawn
into the wrinkles of wasting tissues. He wears a scholar's cap and gown;
the latter of some chocolate-brown pile, richly patterned, and lined
with brown fur. He holds his gloves in his right hand and leans this
arm on a closed book, on the edges of which is the lettering: ÆTATIS SVÆ

An oriental cover is spread on the table, and upon it are a number of
the scientific instruments common to astrology and to the uses of
astronomers like Kratzer, in whose portrait at the Louvre they are also
to be seen. On the lower shelf are mathematical and musical instruments
and books. The two latter are opened to display their text conspicuously.
Near the man at our left, and kept open by a T-square, is the Arithmetic
which Peter Apian, astronomer and globe-maker, published in 1527. It is
opened at a page in Division, with its German text plainly legible and
identical with the actual page, as seen in the British Museum's copy of
this edition.

The book nearest the man at our right, lying beneath the lute, has been
also identified as Luther's Psalm-book with music,--in which the German
text is by himself and the music by Johann Walther--first published in
1524. Mr. Barclay Squire has shown that the two hymns could not, however,
have faced each other in reality, as they do in the painting, without
the intervening leaves having been purposely suppressed to gain this
end. These hymns are "Come Holy Ghost" (_Kom Heiliger Geyst Herregott_)
and "Mortal, wouldst thou live blessedly?" (_Mensch wiltu leben
seliglich_). In each case the entire verse is given.

The background is a green-diapered damask curtain most significantly
drawn aside to show a silver crucifix high up in the left-hand corner,
above the man with the dagger and sword. On the beautiful mosaic
pavement is an ugly object that looks like some dried fish. But
experiments have shown that the French Sale-Catalogues in which this
work first appears in the eighteenth century--first, that is, so far as
we can trace it by any records now known--were right in calling this a
"skull in perspective"; _i.e._ a skull painted as seen distorted in a
convex mirror. Some hint of its true character can be gathered, though
not much, by looking at this object from the lower left-hand corner of
the painting, when the exaggerated length will be seen to be reduced to
something more nearly approaching the height of the usual "Death's

According to the views which are now officially accepted by the National
Gallery, the persons of this picture are two French Catholics. The one
at our left is Jean de Dinteville, Seigneur of Polisy, Bailly of Troyes
and Knight of the French Order of St. Michael, of which he wears the
badge without the splendid collar--as was permitted, by a special
statute, to persons in the field, on a journey, or in a privacy that
would not require the full dress of a state occasion. Jean de Dinteville
was French Ambassador at the Court of Henry VIII. in 1533; born in 1504,
he was then twenty-nine. He died in 1555.

The man in the scholar's cap and gown is George de Selve, privately
associated with de Dinteville's mission for a few weeks in the spring of
1533. He was born in 1508, nominated Bishop of Lavaur in 1526, and
confirmed in that office in 1529, in which year he was French Ambassador
at the Court of Charles V. He was twenty-five in 1533, and died in 1541.

For myself, holding convictions concerning these portraits utterly at
variance with any published opinions--and that in more than one vital
respect--I am compelled to limit my account to the bare record of its
appearance and catalogued description, until prepared to submit other
facts and conclusions to a verdict.

Two portraits in the Hague Gallery, each with a falcon hooded on the
wrist, show to how much purpose Holbein had studied these birds in the
Steelyard. The one of Robert Cheseman, done in this year, is especially
fine, with a strange, elusive suggestion of something kindred in the
nature of man and bird.

In 1533, also, the Steelyard placed its contribution to the celebration
of Anne Boleyn's coronation in the painter's hands. And the result was,
as Stow tells us, "a costly and marvellous cunning pageant by the
merchants of the Stilyard, wherein was the Mount Parnassus, with the
Fountaine of Helicon, which was of white marble; and four streams
without pipe did rise an ell high and mette together in a little cup
above the fountaine; which fountaine ran abundantly with Rhenish wine
till night. On the mountaine sat Apollo, and at his feet sat Calliope;
and on every side of the mountaine sate four Muses, playing on severell
sweet instruments."

But of more importance to his living fame were the two large oil
paintings--the Triumph of Riches and the Triumph of Poverty--which he
executed for the Hall of the Steelyard. In their day they were renowned
far and wide; but they also have slipped into some abyss of oblivion,
perhaps to be yet recovered as miraculously as was the Solothurn

When the Guild was compelled to abandon the Steelyard, in Queen
Elizabeth's reign, the Hall stood so long unguarded and uncared for that
when it regained possession, under James I., everything was in a sad
state of neglect. And when the association finally dissolved not long
after, the Hanseatic League agreed to present these paintings to Henry
Prince of Wales, known, like Charles I., to be a lover of Art.

If they passed to the possession of the latter, he must have exchanged
them with, or presented them to, the Earl of Arundel. For in 1627
Sandrart saw them in the collection of the latter, like his father an
enthusiastic admirer of Holbein's work. After this, one or two vague
notices suggest that they somehow drifted to Flanders, and thence to
Paris. But there every trace of them is lost. Federigo Zucchero thought
they yielded to no work of the kind, even among Italian masters; and
copied them from pure admiration. Holbein's drawing for the Triumph of
Riches is in the Louvre Collection.

That he ever painted Anne Boleyn, unless in miniature, seems doubtful.
The portrait among the Windsor drawings which has been labelled with her
name agrees with no description of her in any single respect. But in
1534 he painted one whose destiny was closely linked to hers--Thomas
Cromwell, then Master of the Jewel House.

And it was probably about this time that he painted what is in some
respects the greatest of all his portraits--one of the galaxy of supreme
works of all portraiture--the oil painting of Morett, or Morette, so
long regarded as a triumph of Leonardo da Vinci's art. The world knows
it well in the Dresden Gallery (Plate 29).

The figure is life-size. The pose, even the costume in its feasible
essentials, strikingly repeats the Whitehall portrait of Henry VIII., as
copies show this to have been completed in the wall painting. The
background is a green curtain.

  Illustration: PLATE 29
 _Oils. Dresden Gallery_

The sitter wears neither velvet nor cloth-of-gold, nor Order of any
sort; but his costume is rich black satin, the sleeves puffed with
white, the broad fur collar of sable. In his cap is a cameo brooch. His
buttons are gold; and a gold locket hangs from a plain, heavy chain of
the same metal. His right hand carries his gloves, his left rests on the
gold sheath of the dagger that hangs from his waist. His auburn hair and
beard is streaked with grey.

No words, no reproduction, can hope to express the qualities of such
a painting. Neither can show the mastery or the spell by which the green
background, the hair, the cool transparent flesh-tones, the fur, the
satin, the gold, are all woven into a witchery as virile as it is

This is another work which has undergone more than one transformation in
the course of its records. As late as 1657 it was correctly ascribed to
Holbein in the Modena Collection. But the first syllable of the sitter's
name has been its only constant. In time Morett slipped into Moretta,
and then--like _Meier_ in the Madonna picture--into Morus. So far it
seems to have clung to some English tradition. But when Morus got
changed to Moro it was but natural for an Italian to think of Ludovico
Sforza, "Il Moro." Long before this Holbein had become Olbeno; and
thereafter a puzzle. When the portrait was labelled Sforza, however, who
could its obviously great painter be but Leonardo? _Et voilà!_ Thus the
work passed to the Gallery and Catalogue of the Royal Collection at
Dresden. And thus it long remained, as if to attest the true level of
Holbein's genius.

But when the Gallery also acquired the drawing of the Arundel
Collection, labelled "Mr. Morett" in Hollar's engraving from it, the
painting was held to be unquestionably identified by it as Hubert
Morett, goldsmith to Henry VIII. Nor is there anything incongruous in
this belief. Such a master goldsmith was no tradesman, in our sense of
the word. He was often much more like one of our merchant princes. The
merchants of the Steelyard were frequently the royal bankers, and many
times were employed on high and delicate diplomatic missions to other
courts. Neither is there anything in the sitter's dress to forbid it to
a man of this stamp, even after the sumptuary laws of Henry VIII. were
passed; while there is much, very much, to suggest an English origin.

On the other hand, M. Larpent has now shown that the Arundel drawing was
down in a catalogue of 1746-7 as: "One Holbein, Sieur de Moret, one of
the French hostage in England"; and also that a "Chas. sieur de Morette"
is recorded among the four French hostages sent to England in 1519. It
would thus appear that the painting is a portrait of Charles de Solier,
seigneur de Morette; an eminent soldier and diplomatist of France; born
in 1480, Ambassador to England more than once, and finally, in 1534.

Besides all the portraits of Holbein's English period, many of them
scattered throughout the collections of all Europe, and many others now
lost, it must not be forgotten that he was at the same time pouring
forth miniature paintings, designs for engraving, designs for the
goldsmith, and conceptions of every sort--from a carved chimney-piece to
a woman's jewelled trinket; and all designed with the same exquisite
precision and felicity. In the British Museum as on the Continent these
drawings are an education in themselves. And besides the portrait
studies in the Windsor Collection there is a sketch for a large painting
which, if ever executed, is lost: "The Queen of Sheba visiting King




  Queen Jane Seymour--Death of Erasmus, and title-page portrait--The
  Whitehall painting of Henry VIII.--Munich drawing of Henry VIII.--Birth
  of an heir and the "Jane Seymour Cup"--Death of the Queen--Christina,
  Duchess of Milan--Secret service for the King--Flying visit to Basel
  and arrangements for a permanent return--Apprentices his son Philip at
  Paris--Portrait of the Prince of Wales and the King's return gift--Anne
  of Cleves--Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk--Catherine Howard--Lapse
  of Holbein's Basel citizenship--Irregularities--Provision for wife
  and children--Residence in London--Execution of Queen Catherine
  Howard--Marriage of Catherine Parr--Dr. Chamber--Unfinished work for
  the Barber-Surgeons' Hall--Death of Holbein--His will--Place of
  burial--Holbein's genius; its true character and greatness.

These were years of pleasant friendships, too, as well as work and
cares. Nicholas Bourbon, scholar and poet, after his sojourn in London,
writes back in 1536: "Greet in my name as heartily as you can all with
whom you know me to be connected by intercourse and friendship." And
after mentioning high dignitaries who had followed the King's example of
showing special courtesies to Bourbon, he adds: "Mr. Cornelius Heyss, my
host, the King's Goldsmith; Mr. Nicolaus Kratzer, the King's Astronomer,
a man who is brimful of wit, jest, and humorous fancies; and Mr. Hans,
the Royal Painter, the Apelles of our time. I wish them from my heart
all joy and happiness." This little pen-picture of Holbein's intimate
circle is a beautiful break in the mists of centuries--and shows us what
manner of men they were among whom he had made for himself an honoured
place. We could ill spare it from the few and meagre records of his
life. It is also the very earliest documentary evidence of his being in
the King's immediate service.

It was in this very year, 1536, that he received his commission to paint
Anne Boleyn's successor, Jane Seymour, then on the throne the block
had left vacant. The Vienna Gallery possesses this painting, of which
another version is at Woburn Abbey, and the chalk drawing at Windsor
(Plate 30).

  Illustration: PLATE 30
 _Oils. Vienna Gallery_

The Queen was noted for her milk-white fairness, and Holbein has
borrowed the pearly shadows of the lily in rendering it. The figure is a
little under life-size. Her head-dress and robes of silver brocade and
royal velvet are studded with splendid rubies and pearls to match the
jewels on her neck and breast. The hands are as full of character as of

The Queen's portrait may properly be said to belong to the great wall
painting which Holbein finished in 1537 for the Royal Palace at Whitehall.
But before that date the painter's inner life had suffered one more
great wrench. At midnight of July 12th, 1536, Erasmus died in the home
that had been his own, except for the Freiburg interval, ever since John
Froben's death in 1526; a death that had probably had much to do with
Holbein's first departure from Basel. That event had uprooted the
scholar from the old house _zum Sessel_, in the Fischmarkt, and
transplanted him to the home of Froben's son, Hieronymus. The latter
house, then known as _zum Luft_, is now No. 18, Bäumleingasse. And it
was here that Erasmus passed away, his mind keeping to the last its
humour and its interests in all around him. But no one, remembering how
Fisher and More had died in the preceding year, can doubt but that the
good old man was very willing to be gone, away from changed faces and
changed ways--though Bonifacius Amerbach and young Froben were as sons
to him.

Basel, for all her differences with him, buried Erasmus with great
honours. But no tablet could so commemorate him as the noble monument
which Holbein built to him in the title-page he designed for Hieronymus
Froben's edition of Erasmus's _Works_, published in 1540. It is a
woodcut of extraordinary beauty. The full-length figure of the scholar
stands in cap and gown, with one hand resting lightly on the bust of
the god Terminus (the god of immovable boundary lines, significantly
conjoined to Erasmus's chosen motto: _Concedo nulli_) and the other
calling attention to this significant emblem of fixed convictions. Not
even the Louvre oil painting expresses the whole Erasmus quite so
completely or so nobly as this little drawing of the man whom Holbein
had loved and revered for twenty years; and to whom he owed, in the
first place, the splendid opportunities of his career in England.

And as he drew it, what ghosts of his own Past must have clustered
around the lean little figure! What echoes and visions! The Rhine, the
gardens, the clang of the press, the Fischmarkt, the friendly smiles at
Froben's and Meyer's firesides; his marriage; the stars and dews and
perfume of all his dreams in the years--those matchless years of a man's
young manhood--when he had walked with angels as well as peasants, had
seen the Way of the Cross, the Christ in the Grave, and the Risen Lord
even more clearly than the faces of flesh and blood. _Eheu fugaces!_
"God help thee, Elia, how art thou sophisticated."

       *       *       *       *       *

Ah, well! Those years, and the darker, sadder years that had led far
from them, were now like his oldest friends--dead and buried. The
Holbein of 1537 was painting the King of England on the wall of his
Privy Chamber. There was a place for honest pride as well as for honest
regret in his thoughts.

This painting perished with the palace in the fire of 1698. Charles
II., however, had a small copy of it made by Leemput. And a portion of
Holbein's original cartoon (Plate 31) in chalk and Indian ink, is in
the possession of the Duke of Devonshire--the face much washed out by
cleaning, and the outline pricked for transferring to the wall. The
figures are life-size, but Walpole has already noticed how the massive
proportions and solidly-planted pose of the King heighten the illusion
of a Colossus. Behind him stands the admirably contrasted figure of
Henry VII. The whole composition consisted of four portraits; Queen
Jane Seymour opposite her husband, and the King's mother opposite to,
and on a level with, Henry VII., who stands on the elevation of the

  Illustration: PLATE 31
  (_Fragment of Cartoon used for the Whitehall Wall-Painting_)
 _Duke of Devonshire's Collection_

The pose and costume of Henry VIII. in the cartoon were, as Leemput's
copy shows, faithfully carried out in the painting; but in the latter
the face was afterwards turned to the full front view familiar to us in
the many copies of the King's portrait which so long passed as works of
Holbein, on the strength of reproducing his own painting. There is no
evidence that he ever again painted Henry VIII. or that he executed
any replica of this portrait. The old copy at Windsor Castle serves,
however, to recall its details of costume; such as his brown doublet
stiff with gold brocade and scintillating with the gleams of splendid
jewels, his coat of royal red embroidered with gold thread and lined
with ermine to match the wide collar; his plumed and jewelled cap; as
also the huge gems on collar, pendant, rings, and the gold-hilted dagger
in its blue velvet sheath.

But Holbein's own portrait of Henry VIII.--as shown by the original
chalk study from life now in the Munich Gallery (Plate 32)--may in
all sobriety of speech be called a stupendous work. Looking at this
marvellous drawing and picturing to one's self those cheeks informed
with pulsing blood, those lips with breath, those eyes with blue
gleams,--it is easy to understand that Van Mander was using no hyperbole
when he said that the painting on the wall of the Privy Chamber made the
stoutest knees to tremble. It was literally, as he said, "a terrible
painting," of which none of the stupidly-heavy copies that have for the
most part travestied Holbein's work give any true conception. Many a man
could paint cloth-of-gold and gems; but only once and again in the
centuries comes a man who can thus paint, not alone the mane and stride
of the lion, but the fires that light his glance, the roar rushing to
his lips. To look long into these eyes that Holbein had the genius to
read and the firmness to draw, is to feel one's self in the grip of an
insatiable, implacable, yet leonine soul; a being who, to borrow the
matchless description of Burke's political career, is "parted asunder in
his works like some vast continent severed by a convulsion of nature;
each portion peopled by its own giant race of opinions, differing
altogether in features and language, and committed in eternal hostility
with one another." And so long as the great drama of Tudor England
enthrals the minds of men, hard by Shakespeare's supreme name must be
read the name of the painter in whose pages the actors in that drama
have been compelled themselves to declare themselves.

  Illustration: PLATE 32
  (_Life-study; probably for the Whitehall Painting_)
 _Chalks. Munich Collection_

To crown the King's pride, and to the no less intense delight of the
whole nation which saw in this event the rainbow of every promise, at
Hampton Court, on the 12th of October, 1537, Queen Jane Seymour gave
birth to the son who was to reign so briefly as Edward VI. And it was
doubtless in connection with this happy circumstance that the King
commissioned Holbein's design for a truly royal piece of goldsmith's
work. This drawing, generally known as "the Jane Seymour cup," is at
Oxford, in the Bodleian Library (Plate 33).

No sketch of the artist's powers would be even barely complete without a
realising sense of their versatility. And in this design Holbein has more
than equalled the highest achievement of his great contemporary, Benvenuto
Cellini, at this time in the service of the French Court. The initials
of the King and Queen, H. and J., and the exceedingly judicious motto of
the latter--"Bound to obey and to serve"--are recurring devices. But it
is in the originality and unflawed beauty of the whole--the springing
grace of outline, the taste and cunning with which flowers of gold
naturally bloom into gems and pearls, the combination of freest, richest
fancy with every restraint of a pure taste--that the perfection of this
little masterpiece consists.

  Illustration: PLATE 33
 _Bodleian Library_

In the midst of all the public rejoicings, the Te Deums, feasts, and
bonfires, came the thunderclap of the young mother's death. Some
negligence had permitted her to take cold, and on the twelfth day after
his coveted heir was born, Henry VIII. was once again a widower. The
Court went into deepest mourning until the 3rd of February. But Thomas
Cromwell was very shortly authorised to take secret steps to ascertain
what Princess might most suitably fill the late Queen's vacant place and
strengthen the assurance of an unbroken succession.

Choice fell at first on a Roman Catholic--Christina, the sixteen-year-old
widow of Francis Sforza Duke of Milan, who had died in the autumn of
1535. The upshot of private inquiries was that Holbein was sent over to
Brussels in March, 1538, to bring back a portrait of this daughter of
Christian of Denmark and niece of Charles V. And although the painter
had but three hours in which to do it, he did make what Hutton described
as her "very perffight" image; besides which, said the envoy, the
portrait previously despatched, though painted in all her state finery,
"was but slobbered."

From this "perffight" painting, which could not have been more than one
of his portrait studies, he afterwards completed that full-length oil
painting which is worthy to rank with his great Morett portrait. By the
kindness of the Duke of Norfolk, who has lent it, this beautiful work
is now in the National Gallery (Plate 34). But unhappily for its best
appreciation, to my thinking at least, it hangs at one side and in too
close proximity to the bold colouring of "The Ambassadors"; so that its
own subtle, yet reticent superiority is well-nigh shouted down by its
lusty neighbour. It is a picture to be seen by itself; as it must stand
by itself in the usual inane gallery of women's portraits.

Hutton tells us that the painter who "slobbered" Christina's portrait
had painted her in full dress. But Holbein's eye was quick to recognise
the values of her everyday dress--the widow's costume of Italy--in
enhancing the distinction of her face and the stately slenderness of her
figure. And so he drew her as she stood, with a hint of bending
forward, her gloves being restlessly fingered in a shy yet proud
embarrassment, in the first moments when he saw her.

  Illustration: PLATE 34
 _Oils. National Gallery_
  [_Lent by the Duke of Norfolk_]

The portrait is nearly life-size. Over a plain black satin dress she
wears a gown of the same material, lined with yellow sable. Her hair is
entirely concealed by a black hood. At her throat and wrists are plain
cambric frills. The ranging scale of tawny tones--in the floor, the
gloves, the fur, the golden glint in her brown eyes--and the one ruby,
on her hand, are the only colours, except those of her fresh young lips
and skin and the black and white of her costume. "She is not so white as
the late Queen," wrote Hutton, "but she hath a singular good countenance,
and when she chanceth to smile there appeareth two pits in her cheeks
and one in her chin, the which becometh her excellently well."

It is easy to believe that they did, but her dimples did not chance for
Henry VIII. Whether she really sent him, along with her picture, the
witty refusal credited to her--that she had but one head; had she two,
one should be at His Majesty's service--or whether it was the Emperor's
doing entirely that his niece married the Duke of Lorraine instead of
the man whose first wife had been Charles V.'s aunt, there is, at all
events, a soft lurking devil in the demure little face which seems to
whisper that the answer was one which she could have made an' she would.

Van Mander heard from Holbein's circle a story which modern pedantry
is inclined to flout. This is, that when an irate nobleman wanted the
painter punished for an affront, the King hotly exclaimed:--"Understand,
my lord, that I can make seven earls out of as many hinds, any day; but
out of seven earls I could not make one such painter as this Holbein."
An eminently ben-trovato story, at all events. And certain it is that
the painter stood sufficiently high in the royal favour to be despatched
on some special private mission for the King in the summer of 1538, of
which the secret was so well kept that nothing beyond the record of
payment for it has ever transpired.

From this date Holbein's name is regularly down in the Royal Accounts.
The amounts drawn total, it has been computed, about £360 in present
value, and would make an agreeable annual addition to his other
earnings. So that it is little wonder he was not tempted by the small
sum offered by the Basel Council in 1532. But in 1538 the Council
greatly increased the old offer, and was so anxious to have him among
her citizens that the painter seized the opportunity of his secret
mission to Upper Burgundy, whatever it was, to pay a flying visit to
Basel in the interests of his family.

       *       *       *       *       *

His old companions of the Guild of St. Johann Vorstadt made this
visit--when Holbein was back among them, as was noted, "in silk and
velvet"--the occasion of a grand banquet in his honour. But the real
motive for his visit was to arrange upon what terms he could meet the
Council's wishes. The terms were far from ungenerous, as is shown by the
contract which followed him back to London.

In this the Council bound itself, in consideration of the great honour
of retaining in their city a painter "famous beyond all other painters
on account of the riches of his art," and in further consideration of
his promise to make no absence from Basel more prolonged than should be
really necessary to carry his foreign commissions to their destination
and receive his pay for them--to give him an annuity of fifty guldens,
equally whether Holbein should be ill or well, but only during his own
life. In addition to this, they granted him permission to make short
visits to specified art-centres, of which Milan was one, "once, twice,
or thrice, every year." And recognising the impossibility of his freeing
himself from his English engagements in less than two years, they also
granted him this interval before he need resume his residence at Basel;
and engaged to pay forty guldens yearly to his wife, on his behalf, for
each of these two years.

There is every probability that Holbein himself took a goodly sum to
Basel to invest for his family's permanent benefit in one way and
another. For it could only have been as a part of this gleaning for
them that he drew--as the Account Books show that he did just at this
juncture--a whole year's salary in advance from the Royal Exchequer;
seeing that the same books prove that he was liberally paid for all his
own expenses on the King's service, in addition to his regular salary.

Part of the sum he collected to take with him was doubtless used to
apprentice his son Philip, now sixteen, to the goldsmith's trade. And
that the father chose Paris for this purpose, where he left Philip on
his return journey, might well be due either to his own estimation
of Jerome David, to whom Philip was indentured, or to the fact that
Benvenuto Cellini's presence at Paris afforded some advantage; or that
his own promised return to Basel would make it preferable to have the
lad on the same side of the Channel as all his family. And that Holbein
fully intended to make the necessary and obvious sacrifice involved in
exchanging London for Basel is also proved by a contemporary account.
"His intention was," says his fellow-townsman, "had God lengthened his
life, to paint many of his pictures again at his own expense, as well as
the hall in the Rathaus. The paintings on the _Haus zum Tanz_ he
pronounced 'pretty good.'" But it was not to be.

His New Year's offering to the King on the opening of 1539 was a
portrait, probably the oil painting in the Hague Gallery, of the infant
Prince of Wales. It was a spirited picture of the royal baby with his
gold rattle in his chubby little fist, such as might have delighted a
father less doting than Henry VIII., whose return gift is recorded: "To
Hans Holbyne, paynter, a gilte cruse with a cover, weighing x oz. 1
quarter." The cruse was made by a friend of the painter; that Cornelius
Hayes, goldsmith, whom Bourbon's letter mentioned in connection with him
in 1536.

All these months the negotiations for the hand of the Duchess of Milan
had fluctuated with the varying fortunes of the King's relations with
her uncle, Charles V. But at last they had altogether collapsed with
what seemed to Henry VIII. the threatening attitude assumed by the
Emperor and the Pope. Hereupon followed that historical chapter, so full
of fatal consequences to Cromwell, and no less big with shame for the
King's own story: the pitiful chapter of Anne of Cleves.

Her brother, the Duke of Cleves, was at this time a troublesome foe to
the Emperor; while the fact that she was a Protestant was a "Roland"
for the Imperial and Papal "Oliver." So Holbein was again posted off to
bring back a counterfeit of Anne, and to carry to her a miniature of the
King. And by the 1st September he had acquitted himself of the new

There is not an iota of historical or other evidence for that "Flanders
mare" anecdote, which seems to have had a gratuitous as well as
spontaneous origin in Bishop Burnet's seventeenth-century brain, to the
effect that the King was the victim of a flattering portrait by Holbein,
and cruelly undeceived by the actual looks of his bride. In the first
place his agents wrote to him frankly that the Princess was of no great
beauty, though not uncomely, and "never from the ellebowe of the Ladye
Duchesse her Mother," who was said to be most unwilling to part with her
(as a mother might well be, for the husband in question). The King was
also told that she was quite unskilled in languages or music, and
held, with her mother, that it was "for a rebuke and an occasion of
lightenesse that great Ladyes shuld be lernyd or have enye knowledge of
musike." And in the next place even a superficial knowledge of Holbein
would disprove any tradition of "flattery" from his unflinching, almost
brutally truthful brush. It was hardly likely that the painter who would
not stoop to flatter Bishop Stokesley, or Henry VIII. himself, would be
swerved from his good faith by Anne of Cleves.

  Illustration: PLATE 35
 _Oils. The Louvre_

On the contrary, the painting, in oils on vellum and mounted on a panel,
now in the Louvre (Plate 35), is the very embodiment of contemporary
accounts of this Princess. Her fair-skinned, commonplace, yet "not
uncomely" face looks out placidly at you from the quaint Flemish
head-dress of fine gauze and jewelled cloth-of-gold. Her inert hands
(Holbein's hands belong to his truth-telling revelations), jewelled
even on the thumb, are listlessly clasped upon each other; her
crimson-velvet dress is heavily banded with gold and pearl embroidery.

No Venus certainly, and perhaps somewhat heavily handicapped by the
maternal "elbowe." But still perfectly in keeping with her descriptions
and making no denial to the French Ambassador's statement that she was
"the gentlest and kindest" of queens; or to an English eye-witness who
writes that at her coronation the people all applauded her for being "so
fayre a Ladye, of so goodly a stature and so womanly a countenance, and
in especial of so good qualities."

The fact is that the King's very cruelty to this poor girl--torn from
her mother's side and her Protestant home in Dürren to be the pawn of an
unscrupulous diplomacy--was based on grounds, at least, less infamous
than that of a slave-buyer. After both Cromwell and Holbein had been
well rewarded for their services, the former lost his head and the Queen
her crown on considerations that took no more account of her looks than
her feelings. The Catholic glass had risen; the King himself was not
ashamed to avow it; and the Protestant alliance was therefore an
incubus. After some two months of a queen's and wife's estate, poor
Anne of Cleves was bid to pack her belongings and take up a separate
establishment as an unmarried woman. No wonder she fainted when first
informed of such an infamy.

But there was no law in England save the _fiat_ of Henry VIII. The
marriage was pronounced "null and void," and Anne retired into private
life, on the rigid condition that she would make no attempt to ever quit
England, with an allowance of £3,000 a year, and the formal title of the
King's "sister." There was no help for her. Never again for her would
there be the austere joys of Dürren--her mother's side, her own timid
dreams of other companionship, and never the price at which she had lost

At the head of the triumphant anti-Protestant, anti-Cromwell party stood
Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk, whose portrait, in the Royal
Collection at Windsor, Holbein painted about this time (Plate 36). The
lean face and the figure clothed in red stand out strikingly from the
plain green background, although the painting has suffered not a little
injury. The robe is lined and trimmed with ermine, and over it is the
collar and badge of the Order of the Garter. In his right hand he holds
the gold baton of his office as Earl Marshal, and in his left the White
Staff of the Lord Chamberlain.

  Illustration: PLATE 36
 _Oils. Windsor Castle_

According to Roper, Norfolk, then Earl of Surrey, was a great friend of
Sir Thomas More. But it would be hard to imagine a greater contrast than
the records of the two men. The latter a pattern of personal purity and
lofty ideals; the former as venal as the King's Parliaments, and as
unscrupulous in pursuit of his passions as the King himself.

Norfolk's star of influence had already waxed and waned with the evil
destinies of one niece, before it arose anew with the fortunes of
another only to plunge sharply after them into the gulf of ruin. For the
present he and Gardiner, restored to favour with him, were all-powerful.
Their calculations seemed to prosper, too, beyond their most ambitious
dreams, when, instead of ruling through a rival to Anne who should be
the King's mistress, they were to rule through a legal successor. For
the King was nothing if not technically correct; and from the moment
when the fatal royal glance flamed on Catherine Howard when Gardiner was
entertaining him, nothing would do but she should become his wife. And
thus once more the wild wheel of Fortune was to make Norfolk uncle to a
Queen of England.

Anne was divorced on the 12th of July, 1540, and on the 28th of the
same month, on the very day when Thomas Cromwell was beheaded, the King
married Anne Boleyn's cousin, Catherine Howard. On the 8th of August she
was proclaimed Queen, and on the 15th of that month she was publicly
prayed for as such in all the churches of the realm. Well might she be!
Dry your outraged tears, Anne of Cleves, and give thanks to God that you
are well out of it!

There is a miniature in the Windsor Collection now believed to be
Holbein's portrait of Catherine Howard. Until recently it was held to be
the portrait of Catherine Parr. But there is a larger portrait of the
former among the Windsor drawings, a study evidently made for an oil
painting (Plate 37). By this it seems that she had auburn hair, hazel
eyes, a fair complexion, and a piquant smile. There is a painting which
accords with this drawing in the Duke of Buccleuch's collection, but it
is said to be by a French artist.

  Illustration: PLATE 37
 _Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle_

In the autumn of this year, 1540, the two years of absence expired which
had been granted to Holbein by his contract with the Basel Council. But
he had now formed ties which were too powerful to yield to Basel's.
Those plans of painting again the walls by which coming generations
would judge him, the resolve to try again if he and Elsbeth might not
manage to live in peace under one roof where the children, who were
strangers to him, should come to know and be known by him in something
more than name, were all relinquished. They must certainly have
been relinquished on some definite mutual understanding, and at a
"compensation" agreed upon between him and Elsbeth and his step-son,
Franz Schmidt; because it must have been Holbein himself who enabled
Franz, acting on his mother's behalf, to take over as he did the entire
legacy--a snug little competency in itself--to which Holbein fell heir
in this autumn by the bequest of his uncle, Sigmund Holbein, citizen of
Berne. Philip having been launched by his father in the goldsmith's
craft, there only remained the second son and two daughters at home.
Thus so far as mere money went, Holbein might now think himself
discharged from the support of his family, and free to divert his future
earnings from them. And, as has been said, the Will and Inventory proved
at Elsbeth's death, six years after her husband's, that he had made no
bad provision for them in the matter of material comforts, however
remiss his conduct in its moral aspects.

The Royal Accounts break off in 1541, but the Subsidy Roll for the City
of London has a very precious item for Holbein's biography in the
October of this year. This announces that "Hanns Holbene" is among the
"straungers" then residing in "the Parisshe of Saint Andrew Undershafte,"
and that he is assessed as such.

Not only the Windsor chalk drawings, but the paintings at Vienna,
Berlin, and other Continental galleries, show the pressure, as well as
the high level of quality, at which he was now working. These portraits
are among almost his very best, while the one shortly to be mentioned is
quite among them.

By the summer of 1542 the tragedy of Catherine Howard was over. That
Royal Progress, like more than one of its forerunners, had become the
royal shame. This time it was a shame so black and so wide that within
two years, after madness and death had purged the complicity of many,
there still remained so many more involved in the sins and follies of
Norfolk's niece that the ordinary prisons were unable to contain all
that were arraigned; a shame so bitter that when the proofs of it were
first laid before Henry VIII. the Privy Council quaked to see him shed
tears. It was, they said with awe, "a strange thing in his courage!"
The guilty woman had her own tears to shed in expiation; but in the
dawn of February 12th, 1542, she walked to the block as full of wilful,
cheerful audacity, and as careful of her toilet, as she had ever gone to
meet her royal lover. And so the auburn head of the King's fifth wife
rolled from the axe that had severed her guilty cousin's.

On July 12th, 1543, the "next" year as it then began, the King married
Catherine Parr. She had been twice widowed and was about to marry Sir
Thomas Seymour when the King interfered, and she became his wife
instead; though one can well credit the story that she tremblingly
told him, "It were better to be his mistress." She was a good woman, a
generous stepmother, and a good wife. But there is plenty of probability
for the assertion that her own death had been debated with the King when
her wit delayed it, and his death set her free to marry at last the man
from whom the King had snatched her.

It was formerly believed, as has been said, that Holbein had painted
her miniature--the one at Windsor, now declared to be the portrait
of Catherine Howard. About this time he must have painted the great
portrait of which mention has been made. This is the oil portrait of
Dr. Chamber, the King's physician, now in the Vienna Gallery (Plate 38).
The sitter was, as the inscription shows, eighty-eight years old; and
the strong, stern face is full of that "inward" look which comes to
the faces of men whose meat and drink has been a lifetime of heavy
responsibilities. He had been associated with the Charter of the College
of Physicians in 1518, and was also instrumental in that of the Guild of
"Barbers and Surgeons," in 1541. And it was probably through him and Dr.
Butts, another physician to the King whom Holbein had painted and who
was likewise a Master of the new Guild, that he undertook to paint a
large work for their hall--Henry VIII. granting their Charter to the
Master-Surgeons kneeling before him.

  Illustration: PLATE 38
 _Oils. Vienna Gallery_

This work Holbein did not live to finish; and it is to-day exceedingly
doubtful as to how much of the smoke-blackened painting is by him. The
very drawing has a woodenness foreign to his compositions, and much of
the painting is by an evidently inferior hand. But good judges hold some
of the heads to be undoubtedly his work.

However this may be, with the autumn of 1543 Holbein's life came to a
sudden close. Van Mander, wrong as to the date by eleven years which
have fathered a host of spurious _Holbeins_ on the Histories of Art, is
apparently right as to the cause of death--"the Plague." By the great
discovery of Hans Holbein's Will, found by Mr. Black in 1861 among the
archives of St. Paul's Cathedral, it is proved that the painter made his
Will on October 7th, and must have died between this and November 29th,
1543, when administration was granted to one of his executors (the other
would seem to have perished, meanwhile, from the same epidemic). This
surviving executor was an old friend of the artist, whose portrait,
in the Windsor Gallery, he had painted eleven years before--Hans of
Antwerp, a master-goldsmith of the Steelyard.

The Will bears about it evident signs of having been made in great haste
and mental disturbance. But it accomplished all that Holbein probably
had at heart; that is, the ensuring that whatsoever moneys could be
collected from his accounts, or by the sale of "all my goodes and also
my horse," should first be applied to clear a couple of specified debts,
and the rest be managed for the sole benefit of "my two chylder which
be at nurse." From the very fact that nothing as to the identity or
whereabouts of these babies is mentioned, it is clear that Holbein
relied on the verbal instructions which he had given to his trusted
friends and to their complete understanding of all the circumstances as
well as of his wishes. He was only concerned, apparently, that such
small means as could thus be saved for them should not be permitted to
pass to his legal heirs.

No other heirs are mentioned; no other legacy is made. From the Will
alone one who did not know otherwise would suppose that he had no
other family or relatives in existence. The Plague left no man in its
neighbourhood much leisure for explanations. Stowe records that the one
of that autumn was such "a great death" that the Law Courts had to be
transferred to St. Albans. But two things seem to speak in this curt
document. First, that by the transference of his uncle Sigmund's little
fortune to Franz Schmidt (as trustee for Elsbeth and the children of her
marriage with Holbein), which the archives prove took place three years
earlier, and by his other arrangements for his family at Basel and for
Philip at Paris, Holbein held himself free of any further responsibility
for their support, and, indeed, determined that they should not obtain
possession of the residue in London.

Secondly, that if the mother of his two illegitimate children had lived
with him in London as his wife, she must have just died--perhaps in
childbed, perhaps of the Plague. She is not in any way referred to.
And there is something in the very signs of confusion and distress
throughout the wording of the Will which seems to exhale a far-away
anguish--sudden parting, sad apprehensions, keenest anxiety for "my two
chylder which be at nurse." There comes before the eye a picture of
the five grave men--Holbein, his two executors, the one a goldsmith,
the other an armourer, and his two witnesses, a "merchaunte" and a
"paynter"--hurrying along the plague-infected streets to get this
document legalised as some protection for two motherless babies, in the
event of their father's death. No man knew whose turn would come within
the hour.

And by November 29th Holbein's had come, and one executor's also,
apparently. The Latin record of administration on this date is that it
has been consigned to John Anwarpe (Johann or Hans of Antwerp), and
accepted by him in accordance with "the last will of John, alias Hans
Holbein, recently deceased in the parish of Saint Andrew Undershaft."

It would seem probable, then, that the painter was buried in this church
rather than in the closely adjoining church of Saint Catharine-Cree to
which tradition assigned his body. But the horrors of such an epidemic
as that in which the painter was swept suddenly away make it easy to
understand how even such a man as he had now become could die unnoticed
and be buried in an unrecorded grave. When the Earl of Arundel, a few
years later, sought to learn where he might set up a monument to one he
so greatly admired, there was only this vague and uncorroborated rumour
that the painter was buried in Saint Catharine-Cree. And so no monument
was built to mark the spot where Holbein's "measure of sliding sand" had
been spilled at last.

But, as they ran, those sands had measured more than "_a great
portrait-painter_." They had measured Greatness; greatness which is not
to be delimited by the wanton outrages of man or the accidents of time.
Both have had their share in the judgments of generations that have lost
all his greatest and nearly all his imaginative creations. And what
the Spoiler has spared, the self-styled Restorer has too often ruined.
Self-love, on the other hand, and family pride have been engaged to
preserve those portraits by which it is now the fashion to mulct him of
his far larger dues.

Of his mysticism, of the symbolism in which his "Journal Intime" is
written in his own firm cipher, this little book is not the place to
speak; though for those who have once come to know the true Holbein
these have a spell, a stern, inexhaustible enchantment all their own.

But study the few fortunate survivals of his imaginative works, study
even more the wrecks and skeletons of his loftier conceptions, and ask
yourself if it could be by only a quick eye and a clever hand (and he
had both, assuredly) that Holbein caught up the dying ember of the Van
Eycks' torch and fanned it by his originality, his fancy, his winged
realism, until its light lit up the dim ways of Man with a clairvoyance
far beyond theirs. This eye, this mind, flung its gleaming penetration
into every covert of the soul and deep, deep, deep into the most
shrouded, the most shuddering secrets of Mortality.

Was it by virtue of a mere portrait-painter's powers that the son of
the Augsburg Bohemian came to lay his finger upon the very core and
composition of perhaps the haughtiest, the subtlest, the most dread
despot since the Cæsars? Henry VIII. and Fisher; the Laïs Corinthiaca,
the Duchess of Milan, his brooding wife; dancing children, and dancing
Death; Christ on the Cross, Christ in the Grave, Christ Arisen; lambs in
the fields, woods and hills, gaping peasants, wild battle;--put them
side by side, the poor ghosts of them left to us, and compute the range
of art--"the majestic range" that framed them all.

Let us be just. Let us forget for a moment the chirp of the family
housekeeper over her gods. Let us gather up the broken fragments that
are more than the meal, and humbly own the Miracle that created them.
It is idle to argue with the intelligence that can see "a want of
imagination" in Holbein. But we can find proof and to spare that it
is not so; that his so-called "limitations"--apart from method, which
is a matter of Epoch--are due to a creed we may or may not agree with,
but surely must respect. The creed that Beauty is the framework, the
ornament, rather than the substance of things; the pleasure, not the
purpose of "this mortal"; and that the sweetest flower that blows is but
an exquisite moment of transfigured clay.

He smells the mould above the rose; yet how he draws the rose! The
brazen arrogance of pomp, the pearl on a woman's neck, the shimmer of a
breaking bubble, the wrinkles in a baby's foot, the beauty of life, the
pathos of life, the irony and the lust of life,--he has painted them
all, as he saw them all, in the phantasmagoric Procession of Being
betwixt garret and throne.

He has painted each, too, with that genius for seizing the essential
quality which _is_ the thing, that never forsook him from Augsburg to
Saint Andrew's Undershaft; that singular, vivid, original genius which
can well afford to let his grave be forgotten, whose works build for
him, as Hans Holbein--

   _One of the few, the immortal names
    That were not born to die._


 1: The name used thus, without further identification, is to be taken
 throughout these pages to mean Hans Holbein the _Younger_.

 2: Variously written Meyer, Meier, Mejer, Meiger, or Megger. Bär is also
 written _Ber_, or _Berin_.

 3: I am deeply indebted to the personal kindness and trouble of Sir
 Martin Gosselin, K.C.M.G., British Minister at the Court of Portugal,
 for greatly facilitating my own study of this interesting picture.

 4: I am indebted to the personal kindness of the discoverer's son, Herr
 Direktor Zetter-Collin of the Solothurn Museum, for these details. But
 the whole story, as well as Herr Zetter-Collin's contributions to the
 history of the work, should be read in his own absorbingly interesting
 monograph:--"_Die Zetter'sche Madonna von Solothurn. (...) Ihre
 Geschichte, etc._" 1902.

   _"Die Liebe zu Gott Heist charite.
     Wer Liebe hat der Tragt kein Hass."_



 ** signifies--_Superlative qualities._

  * signifies--_Of some particular importance._

  ? signifies--_Authorities differ._ Held by some (and by the writer)
                to have been, in its original condition, the work of
                Holbein's own hand.



 ? St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Barbara. Oils. (Wings of the St.
   Sebastian altar-piece.) Munich Gallery.

   Virgin and Child. Oils. Basel Museum. (Earliest signed work known.
   Dated 1514.)


 (1515, 1516, 1519-1526)

   Illustrations to Erasmus's _Praise of Folly_.
   Eighty-two pen-and-ink sketches on the margins.
   Original copy, Basel Museum.

   Portrait of an unknown young man.
   Oils. Grand-Ducal Museum, Darmstadt.

   Jacob Meyer _zum Hasen_ and his second wife, Dorothea Kannegiesser.
   [Plates 4 and 5.] Oils. Basel Museum.

   Bonifacius Amerbach. [Plate 6.] Oils. Basel Museum.

   Portrait of himself. [Frontispiece.] Coloured Chalks. Basel Museum.

 * Studies from Nature. (A bat outspread and a lamb.)
   Drawings in water-colour and silver-point. Basel Museum.

   Designs for armorial windows. (More especially those
   with _Landsknechte_ and one with three peasants gossiping.)
   Washed Drawings. Basel Museum and Print Cabinet, Berlin.

  _Landsknechte_ in a hand-to-hand fight. [Plate 7.]
   Washed Drawing. Basel Museum. Others in various collections.

   Design for the wings of an organ-case.
   Washed Drawings. Basel Museum.

   Head of St. John the Evangelist.
   Oils. Basel Museum.

   The Last Supper. (On wood; ruined fragment.)
   Oils. Basel Museum.

   The Nativity [Plate 8.] and The Adoration. Oils.
   Freiburg Cathedral. (Wings of a lost altar-piece.)

   Holy Family. Washed Drawing. Basel Museum.
   (Also other drawings of the Virgin and Child.)

   The Passion. Eight-panelled altar-piece. [Plate 9.]
   Oils. Basel Museum. (Utterly ruined by over-painting.)

 * The Passion. A series of ten designs for glass-painting.
   Washed Drawings. Basel Museum.
   (A set of seven reversed impressions in the British Museum.)

   The Man of Sorrows and the Mater Dolorosa.
   Oils, in tones of brown. Basel Museum.

   Christ borne to the ground by the weight of the cross.
   A Washed Drawing and a * Woodcut (unique impression).
   Basel Museum.

 * Christ in the grave. [Plate 10.]
   Oils. Basel Museum.

 ? The risen Christ and Mary Magdalen at the sepulchre. [Plate 11.]
   Oils. Hampton Court Gallery. (Very much injured.)

   St. George. Oils. Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.

   St. Ursula. Oils. Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.

 ? Portrait of a young girl. [Plate 13.]
   Drawing in chalk and silver-point. Jabach Collection. The Louvre.

** The Solothurn Madonna. [Plate 12.]
   Oils. Solothurn Museum. ("Die Zetter'sche Madonna von Solothurn,"
   of which the remarkable history is given in the text; together
   with the evident relationship of Plate 13 and the hypothesis of
   the present writer in that connection.)

** Portrait of Erasmus. [Plate 14.]
   Oils. The Louvre.

   A Citizen's Wife, and others, in the dress of the time.
   Washed Drawings. Basel Museum.

   The Table of Cebes. Border for title-page.
   Woodcut. Royal Print Cabinet, Berlin.

   St. Peter and St. Paul; on the title-page of Adam Petri's
   reprint of Luther's translation of the New Testament.

   Alphabet of "The Dance of Death." Woodcuts.
   Proof-impressions in the Basel Museum, the British Museum,
   and the Dresden Royal Collection.

   Bible Pictures: illustrating Old Testament. Woodcuts.

** "Images of Death." [Two shown at Plates 14 and 15.]
   Proof-impressions, some sets incomplete, in the Basel Museum,
   British Museum and the National Print Collections of Paris,
   Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, Karlsruhe, and the Bodleian Library.
   (This is the immortal series of Woodcuts, often called
   "The Dance of Death," done for the Trechsel Brothers of Lyons,
   but not published there until many years later.)

   Dorothea Offenburg as the Goddess of Love. [Plate 16.]
   Oils. Basel Museum.

   The above as Laïs Corinthiaca.
   Oils. Basel Museum.

** The Meyer Madonna. [Plates 18 and 19.]
   Oils. Grand-Ducal Collection, Darmstadt (superbly restored);
   and ?Dresden Gallery. (Notwithstanding the many and eminent
   authorities who hold this to be a copy, there still remain
   a sufficiency of no less eminent authorities to warrant the
   present writer in her unshaken opinion that, at any rate in
   its first estate and in the main, this Dresden version--revered
   for more than one century as such by the highest authorities--was
   the creation of Holbein's own hand.)



   Portrait of Sir Thomas More.
   Oils. Mr. Huth's Collection.
   Chalk Drawing at Windsor. [Plate 20.]
   (Also a drawing of Sir John More, father of the above.)

** John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. [Plate 21.]
   Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle. (Another in the British Museum.)

   Archbishop Warham.
   Oils. The Louvre, and Lambeth Palace.

 ? John Stokesley, Bishop of London.
   Oils. Windsor Castle.

   Sir Henry Guildford. [Plate 22.]
   Oils. Windsor Castle.

   Lady Guildford.
   Oils. Mr. Frewen's Collection.

   Sir Thomas Godsalve and his son John.
   Oils. Dresden Gallery.

   Chalk Drawing of Sir John Godsalve.
   Windsor Castle.

   Nicholas Kratzer, Astronomer Royal to King Henry VIII. [Plate 23.]
   Oils. The Louvre.

   Sir Henry Wyat. Oils. The Louvre.

   Sir Bryan Tuke, Treasurer of the Household to King Henry VIII.
   Oils. Munich Gallery. [Plate 24.]
   Also at Grosvenor House. (As stated in the text, the writer holds
   that the portraits of Sir Bryan Tuke should properly be classed
   with those of a later period. But they are given here in accordance
   with opinions which obtain at present.)



** Portrait group of Holbein's wife, Elsbeth, and his two eldest children.
   [Plate 25.] Oils, on paper.
   Basel Museum. (Outline hard from having been cut out and mounted.)

   King Rehoboam replying to his people, and
** Samuel denouncing Saul. [Plate 26.]
   Two Washed Drawings. Basel Museum. (These are the designs for "the
   back wall" of the Basel Council Chamber.)

  "Portrait of an English Lady" (unknown).
   Chalk Drawing. Basel Museum.

** Portrait of an unknown young man in a broad-brimmed hat.
   Chalk Drawing. Basel Museum.
   (This is one of the most beautiful of Holbein's portrait studies. There
   is a soft, yet virile, witchery about it which haunts the memory.)

   Round Portrait of Erasmus. (Bust, 3/4 view.)
   Oils. Basel Museum.

   Designs for dagger-sheaths and other goldsmith's work.
   Washed Drawings. Basel Museum, British Museum, etc.
   (More especially the "Dance of Death"; a chef-d'oeuvre.)

   A ship making sail.
   Washed Drawing. Städel Institut. Frankfurt.



** Portrait of Jörg Gyze. [Plate 27.]
   Oils. Berlin Gallery.

   Portrait of an unknown man.
   Oils. Schönborn Gallery, Vienna.

   Johann or Hans of Antwerp.
   Oils. Windsor Castle. (Holbein's friend and executor.)

   Derich Tybis of Duisburg.
   Oils. Imperial Gallery, Vienna.

   Derich Born.
   Oils. Munich Gallery, and Windsor Castle.

   Derich Berck.
   Oils. Petworth.

   Unknown Man.
   Oils. Prado Gallery, Madrid.

   The Triumph of Riches.
   Drawing. The Louvre.
   (Copies of this and the pendant design, The Triumph of Poverty,
   in the British Museum and in the Collection of Lady Eastlake.)

   The Queen of Sheba before Solomon.
   Washed Drawing, heightened with gold and colours. Windsor Castle.

   Robert Cheseman, with falcon.
   Oils. Hague Gallery.

 * "The Ambassadors." [Plate 28.]
   Oils. National Gallery.
   (A double portrait, life size. Formerly supposed to be Sir Thomas
   Wyatt and a scholar; now officially held to be Jean de Dinteville,
   Bailli de Troyes, and George de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur. As stated
   in the text, the present writer differs from any identification of
   either figure yet published, but is not prepared to put forward her
   own views for the present.)

   Nicholas Bourbon de Vandoeuvre, scholar and poet.
   Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle.
   (An intimate friend of Holbein, Kratzer, and their circle. Recently
   identified as the man in the scholar's gown, in "The Ambassadors,"
   and so given by Mr. Lionel Cust, in the _Dictionary of National
   Biography_, in his article upon Holbein.)

**The Morett Portrait. [Plate 29.]
   Oils. Dresden Gallery.
   (Long believed to be a triumph of Leonardo da Vinci's art, and the
   portrait of Ludovico Sforza, "Il Moro." At one time held to be Henry
   Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Afterwards "established" and catalogued as
   Hubert Morett, goldsmith to King Henry VIII. Following M. Larpent's
   suggestion, however, it is now supposed to be the portrait of Charles
   Solier, Sieur de Morette. But as to this the last word may yet remain
   to be said. The drawing which the majority of authorities hold to be
   the study for this painting now hangs near it.)

   Thomas Cromwell.
   Oils. Tittenhanger.

** Miniature portrait of Henry Brandon, son of the Duke of Suffolk.
   Windsor Castle.

   Title-page used in Coverdale's Bible. Woodcut.

   Q. Jane Seymour. [Plate 30.]
   Oils. Imperial Gallery, Vienna.

** Portrait of Erasmus, full length, in scholar's robes, with his hand
   on the head of the god Terminus. Woodcut.
   Frontispiece to Hieronymus Froben's edition of Erasmus's
   Works, published in 1540.
   (Commonly known as "Erasmus in a surround," or niche.)

   Fragment of the Cartoon [Plate 31] used for the four royal portraits
   in the wall-painting at Whitehall. The fragment shows only the figures
   of King Henry VIII. and his father. Hardwick Hall.
   (Remigius van Leemput's copy of the wall-painting shows that the
   position of the King's head was changed, in the completed work, to the
   full-face view so familiar in the oil-painting at Windsor Castle. The
   latter is one of the many copies of Holbein's original portrait of
   Henry VIII. which long passed muster as genuine _Holbeins_.)

** Portrait study of the face of King Henry VIII. [Plate 32.]
   Chalk Drawing. Royal Print Cabinet, Munich.
   (Probably the Life-study for the Whitehall painting. If nothing
   else remained, this mask alone would incontestably rank Holbein
   among the Masters of all time. To the writer's thinking, at any
   rate, it stands among the very few works of art which it would be
   difficult to match, and impossible to surpass in its own colossal

** Design for "the Jane Seymour Cup." [Plate 33.]
   Bodleian Library.

** Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan. [Plate 34.]
   Oils. National Gallery; lent from Arundel Castle.

   Edward VI., when infant Prince of Wales.
   Oils. Hanover Gallery, and Lord Yarborough's Collection.

   Anne of Cleves. [Plate 35.]
   Oils on Vellum. The Louvre.

   Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk. [Plate 36.]
   Oils. Windsor Castle, and Arundel Castle.

   Catherine Howard. [Plate 37.]
   Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle.
   (The Miniature at Windsor Castle, formerly said to be Holbein's
   portrait of Catherine Parr, is now said to be Catherine Howard. If
   so, it is somewhat difficult to reconcile it with the drawing,
   which latter seems much more in keeping with the descriptions of
   her traits.)

   Title-page used in Cranmer's Bible. Woodcut.
   (This is the title-page from which Cromwell's Arms are erased in
   the second edition.)

   Sir Nicholas Carew.
   Oils. Dalkeith Palace. Chalk Drawing. Basel Museum.

   Simon George of Cornwall.
   Oils. Städel Institut, Frankfurt.

   Miniature portrait of Charles Brandon, son of the Duke of Suffolk.
   Windsor Castle.

   Lady; unknown.
   Oils. Imperial Gallery, Vienna.
   Also a fine portrait of an unknown man.
   Oils. Same Gallery.

   Sir Richard Southwell.
   Oils. Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle.

   John Reskymeer.
   Oils. Hampton Court Gallery.

   Nicholas Poyntz.
   Oils. De la Rosière Collection, Paris. Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle.

   Sir John Russell.
   Oils. Woburn Abbey. Chalk Drawing. Windsor Castle.

   Three portraits; men unknown.
   Oils. Berlin Gallery.

   Designs for jewelry, ornamental panels, clocks, chimney-piece,
   etc., etc. Washed Drawings. British Museum, Basel Museum, etc.

   Many fine portraits of which no versions in oils are known.
   Chalk Drawings. Windsor Castle.
   Among these one of Edward VI. as boy Prince of Wales, the Duchess of
   Suffolk, Sir Thomas Wyatt, etc., etc.

   Dr. John Chamber, or Chambers.
   Oils. Imperial Gallery, Vienna.

   Also many other oil-portraits, more or less genuine, in various


 The Literature of Holbein's Life, much more of his Works, is far too
 extensive to admit of a Bibliography in a volume of this sort. But the
 following List will be found to contain (or themselves refer the reader
 to) all that is of essential importance to even the most complete study
 of this Master.

 Carel van Mander, _Het Schilder-Boeck_, etc., 1604.
   The above translated into French, and admirably edited by
   M. Henri Hyman. 2 tom., 1884.

 Alfred Woltmann, _Holbein und seine Zeit. Zweite umgearbeitete
   Auflage_, 1874. 2 Bde.
   There is an English translation of the First Edition of 1871, by
   F. E. Bunnètt; but unfortunately its views on many vital points are
   reversed by Woltmann himself in his latest edition.

 R. N. Wornum, _Some Account of the Life and Works of Hans Holbein_, 1867.
   Corrected in many respects by the author in a monograph on
   "The Meier Madonna," 1891.

 Paul Mantz, _Hans Holbein_. Paris, 1879.

 H. Knackfuss, _Holbein_. Leipzig, 1899.
   English translation of the above by Mr. Campbell Dodgson.

 Eduard His, _Die Basler Archive über Hans Holbein den
   Jungern_. In Zahn's _Jahrbücher für Kunstwissenschaft_,

 Francis Douce, _The Dance of Death_, 1833.

 J. R. Smith, _Holbein's Dance of Death_, 1849.
   (Especially fine reproductions.)

 H. N. Humphreys, _Holbein's Dance of Death_, 1868.

 G. Th. Fechner, _Über die Deutungsfrage der Holbein'schen Madonna._
   _Die älteste historische Quelle über die Holbein'sche Madonna_.
   Both in _Archiv für die zeichnenden Künste_, 1866, I., 4.
   These give all the known facts of the history of the Meyer Madonnas
   of Darmstadt and Dresden.

 S. Larpent, _Sur le portrait de Morett_. Christiania, 1881.

 Mary F. S. Hervey, _Holbein's "Ambassadors,"_ 1900.
   This volume also embodies, and gives the references to, the original
   identifications of Professor Sidney Colvin, and the suggested
   identifications of Mr. C. L. Eastlake; as well as to the contribution
   concerning the hymn-book by Mr. Barclay Squire.

 W. F. Dickes, _Holbein's "Ambassadors" Unriddled_, 1903.

 F. A. Zetter-Collin, _Die Zetter'sche Madonna von Solothurn.
   Ihre Geschichte aus Originalquellen_, etc.
   In _Festschrift des Kunst-Vereins der Stadt Solothurn_, 1902.

 Artur Seeman, _Der Brunnen des Lebens, von H. Holbein_.
   In _Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst_. Mai, 1903.
   With a superb illustration in colour.


 "Adoration," painting, 71
 "Ambassadors, The," painting, 145-9, 193
 Amerbach, Basilius, 66
   Bonifacius, 25, 46-50, 99, 125
   Johann, 48, 61
 Anne, of Cleves, Queen, 171-4
 Antwerp, Johann or Hans of, 183
 Arundel, Henry Fitzalan, Earl of, 184
   Thomas Howard, Earl of, 151
   William Fitzalan, Earl of, 115
 Augsburg, 10, 11, 16

 Bär, Hans, 24, 25
   Magdalena, first wife of Meyer zum Hasen, 31
 Barber-Surgeons, Guild of, 180
 Basel, description of, 58-64
   decoration of the Rathhaus by Holbein, 83-5, 132, 135, 170
   decoration of the Lällenkönig by Holbein, 135
   offers of an annuity to Holbein, 145, 168, 169, 176, 177
 Basel, banquet to Holbein, 168
 Beatus Rhenanus, 68
 Berne, 12
 Bible, translations before the Reformation, 23, 24
 Boleyn, Anne, Queen, 150, 151
 Bourbon, Nicholas, 156, 157, 193
 Bourges, 99
 Burgkmair, Hans, 11
 Butts, Sir William, 180

 Cellini, Benvenuto, 169-70
 Chamber, John, 180
 Cheseman, Robert, 150
 "Christ in the Grave," painting, 78-80
 Christ in Holbein's Art, 77-83
 Christina, Duchess of Milan, 144, 164-7
 Colet, John, Dean of St. Paul's, 22, 137
 Cromwell, Thomas, Earl of Essex, 152

 "Dance of Death," 100-103
 Darmstadt, "Meyer-Madonna" at, 108-13
 David, Gerard, 53
 David, Jerome, 169
 Diesbach, Nicholas von, 89, 90
 Dinteville, Jean de, 149
 Dresden, "Meyer-Madonna" at, 108-13
 Dürer, Albrecht, 22

 Edward VI., King, 163, 170
 Elizabeth of York, Queen, 161
 Erasmus, Desiderius, 17-21, 125, 137, 158
   Portraits of, 98, 99, 159
 Eyck, H. and J. van, 15, 185

 Fäsch, Remigius, 111
 Fisher, John, Bishop of Rochester, 118
 "Fountain of Life," painting, 53, 54
 Froben, Hieronymus, 158
 Froben, Johann, 15, 34, 35, 63, 64, 68, 98

 Gardiner, Stephen, Bishop of Winchester, 175
 Gerster, Hans, 89, 90
 Glass-painting, designs for, 54, 55
 "Goddess of Love," painting, 104
 Gold-work, designs for, 163
 Graf, Urs, 65, 66
 Guildford, Sir Henry, 119-21
   Lady, 121
 Gyze, Georg, 142-43

 Hayes, Cornelius, 170
 Henry VII., King, portrait, 161
 Henry VIII., King, portrait, 160-63, 195
   New Year present to Holbein, 170
 Henry, Prince of Wales, 151
 Hertenstein, Jacob von, 43
 Holbein, Ambrose, 10, 12, 13, 17
   Bruno, 12
   Elsbeth, 58, 94-7, 104, 105, 107, 126-9, 177-82
   Hans, the Elder, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 91
     the Younger, birth (1497), 16
       at Basel (1515-17), 24
       at Lucerne (1517-18), 41, 42
       a citizen of Basel (1519-26), 58-113
       marriage, 58
       wife and children, 104-7, 124, 129-31, 169, 170, 182
       first visit to England (1526-8), 115-25
       last years in Basel (1528-31), 125-36
       purchase of Basel House (1528), 125, 126
       final return to London (1531), 136
       mention of, by Nicholas Bourbon, 157
       official income, 167
       will and death, 180-83
       place of interment, 184
       illegitimate children, 183
       as a designer and engraver, 35-7
       greatness of, 184-7
       religious ideals and sympathies, 21-4, 77-83
   Jacob, 128-30
   Katharina, 128-31
   Künegoldt, wife of Andreas Syff, 129-31
   Michael, 11
   Philip, son of Hans the Younger, 86, 94, 129, 169, 170
   Philip, grandson of Hans the Younger, 130
   Sigmund, 12, 177
 Howard, Catherine, Queen, 175
   Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, 175
 Hutten, Ulrich von, 71
 Hyss, Cornelius, 157

 "Jane Seymour Cup," 163

 Kratzer, Nicholas, 121, 122, 157

 Laïs Corinthiaca, painting, 105, 106
 Landsknechte, drawings, 57, 58
 "Last Supper," paintings, 50-52
 Leemput, Remi von, 160
 Leonardo da Vinci, 40, 50
 Lisbon, painting, the "Fountain of Life" at, 53, 54
 Lucerne, 41, 42
 Lützelburger, Hans, 36, 98
 Lystrius, Gerard, 68

 Mantegna, Andrea, 40, 41, 50
 "Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre," painting, 80-83
 Merian, family of, at Frankfurt, 131
 Meyer, Anna, 110, 111
   Dorothea, née Kannegiesser, 31-4, 109
   Jacob zum Hasen, 31-4, 75, 89, 107
   Jacob zum Hirten, 132, 133
   Magdalena, née Bär, 31
 "Meyer-Madonna" (Darmstadt and Dresden), 108-13
 Milan, 40
 Monasticism and Art, 5-8
 More, Sir Thomas, 112, 114-17, 137
 Morett, Hubert, or Morette, Charles de Solier, portrait, 144, 154, 194

 "Nativity," paintings, 71-4

 Oberriedt, Hans, 72, 75
 Oporinus, Joannes, 67, 68

 Paracelsus, 67
 Parr, Catherine, 176, 179
 Passion, eight-panelled altar-piece, 75-77
   drawings, 77, 78
 Plague (in 1543), 182

 Saint Andrew Undershaft, London, 178, 183, 184
 Saint Catharine Cree, London, 184
 Schmidt, Franz, 177, 182
 Schoolmaster's Sign-board, paintings, 25, 26
 Selve, Georges de, Bishop of Lavaur, 149
 Seymour, Jane, Queen, 157, 158, 161, 163, 164
 "Sheba, Queen of, visiting Solomon," drawing, 155
 Solier, Charles de, Seigneur de Morette, 154
 Solothurn Madonna, painting and its history, 86-97
 Steelyard, the, London, 138-42
 Stokesley, John, Bishop of London, 119
 Sultz, Dorothea von, née Offenburg, 104-6

 Title-pages, woodcuts, 65, 98, 115, 159
 "Triumph of Riches and of Poverty," drawings, 150
 Tuke, Sir Bryan, 122, 123

 Ulm, 11
 Utopia, woodcut title-page, 115

 "Virgin and Child," drawings, 55
   paintings by Holbein, 86-97, 108-13

 Warham, William, Archbishop of Canterbury, 118, 119, 137
 Wilhelm Meister, School of, 8
 Windsor, portrait, drawings at, 117

 Zetter, "Madonna" at Solothurn, 86-97


_Demy 16mo. 2s. 6d. net._


MINIATURES. Alice Corkran
BOOKPLATES. Edward Almack
GREEK ART. H. B. Walters
ROMAN ART. H. B. Walters
THE ARTS OF JAPAN. Mrs. C. M. Salwey
JEWELLERY. C. Davenport
CHRIST IN ART. Mrs. H. Jenner
OUR LADY IN ART. Mrs. H. Jenner
ENAMELS. Mrs. Nelson Dawson


ROMNEY. George Paston
DÜRER. L. Jessie Allen
WATTS. Miss R. E. D. Sketchley
HOPPNER. H. P. K. Skipton
TURNER. Frances Tyrrell-Gill
BURNE-JONES. Fortunée De Lisle
LEIGHTON. Alice Corkran
REMBRANDT. Mrs. E. A. Sharp
VELASQUEZ. Wilfrid Wilberforce and A. R. Gilbert
VANDYCK. M. G. Smallwood
DAVID COX. Arthur Tomson
HOLBEIN. Beatrice Fortescue
COROT. Ethel Birnstingl and Mrs. A. Pollard
MILLET. Netta Peacock
CLAUDE. E. Dillon
RAPHAEL. A. R. Dryhurst



Contemporary spellings have generally been retained even when
inconsistent. A small number of obvious typographical errors have been
corrected and some names regularised; missing punctuation has been
silently added. Advertising material has been moved to the end.

The following additional changes have been made:

 to away with him                        to _do_ away with him

 and in Pope Leo's hands for a           and _would remain_ in Pope Leo's
 year yet                                for a year yet

 Die zetter'schen Madonna                Die _Zetter'sche_ Madonna
 vow Solothurn                           _von_ Solothurn

 that I imagine it to have               that I imagine to have

 Mecænas                                 Mæcenas

 at Basel (1515-77)                      at Basel (1515-_17_)

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