Holbein at the Morgan Library in New York — formal portraits, revealing drawings

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Hans Holbein’s painting by Simon George (c.1535-40). .. .. © Horst Ziegenfusz

Picture of the same man

.. .. .. His sketch on the same subject (c1535) © Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Morgan Library & Museum in New York changed the title of its exhilarating exhibition for half a minute Holbein: Capture the character.. Hans Holbein the Younger, Le Touto Tudor London certainly portrayed many characters: a courtier of fate, a self-righteous trader, a devout non-beautiful man. But when he captured traces of their thoughts and personalities, it was often first impressioned in sketches on the way to his final work.

With his brilliant perfectionist oil, he showed off his sensitivity to luxury and his unparalleled eyes on different surfaces (cloth, skin, fur, enamel and different shines of gold). Holbein meticulously elaborated on the characteristics of his sitters and their status markers, opening the window for the fashion and obsession of the elite of his time. Fur fibers, herbal twigs, and micro-symbols on hat badges did not distract him. However, he turned out to be completely cautious when it comes to a person’s moral compass, tenderness abilities, or taste to give pain.

The revelation of Morgan’s show is that Holbein applied its final coat of silence by registering an inner trace of his subject and then deliberately ignoring it. Held in collaboration with the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, this exhibition spans Holbein’s career and includes some preparatory drawings. These sketches are quickly performed with chalk, ink and watercolor and are improvised on paper pre-colored to the skin tones of healthy British aristocrats. In the painting of teen Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1532-33), proud chins, pinched but sensual lips hint at an inner battle between arrogance and anxiety. Holbein noticed a barely detectable asymmetry on the boy’s face, divergent folds of the eyelids, and one eye slightly smaller than the other. He looks like a problem — and to Henry VIII he was.

A picture of a young man whose face is perfect but whose body is only outlined

“Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey” (1532-33), later misidentified as Thomas © Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In contrast, William Parr comes across as a sensitive man in Holbein’s painting (1538-42). His clear blue eyes and gently sloping cheeks are trimmed by the soft fluff of his red beard, giving off an air of tranquil humility.Holbein’s perception chimes with witnesses’ sources and explanations given to cocaine. Complete piage.. Par is a person who is “honest, naive, candid, neither cunning nor involved”, and his “joy was music, poetry and his athletic war.”

The highlight of the show is similar to the young aristocrat Simon George, except for the 1527 portrait of Sir Thomas More, borrowed from Flick. The study of chalk and ink (c1535) captures his essence. The rippling dash accentuates his hair, the perfect contours depict his nose, and the slash flutter fills the jerky designer stubble of the week. The man sits in front of us in profile as if he were in the room, a painful one-liner echo hanging in the air.

Oil painting of a man with a harsh look of fur and chains

Holbein’s “Sir Thomas More” (1527) © The Frick Collection. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

The stunning paintings (1530-40) reconstruct the man in full color, giving it an almost surreal aura. He has a gorgeous beard that is as long and thick as the beaver’s fur. Holbine can get a glimpse of the black luster of a toured leather jacket, the delicate thread of an embroidered collar, the brushed velvet jerkin, and the thrill of the wings gently floating over Simon’s hat. I can do it.

In the transition from sketch to oil, Holbein kept the vibrant young mortal from Cornwall in an unknown personality in a finely varnished shell. Like many of Holbein’s themes, he is sometimes bundled with a collection of mysterious status symbols. The crimson carnation he pinches with two fingers may indicate engagement. The golden pansies scattered in his black hat may be a meditation about death. Hat badges depicting the myths of Leda and the Swan suggest an amorous intent. The entire fascinating repertoire of 16th-century pictograms speaks to the richly connected participants of society. And it reveals nothing about his psychology.

Oil painting of a 3/4 view female wearing a white shawl and wimples

Holbein’s “Squirrel and Sterling Woman” (c1526-28) © National Gallery, London

Death may be the most vibrant of all Holbein’s cast of characters. He created a series of designs for the book, Image of death (C1526), ​​based on the Middle Ages Danse Macabre, The skeletal envoy will now claim the victim. They are woodblock prints made by the skilled sculptor Hans Lutzellberger, including Plovman, Duchess, merchants and monks. He has already collaborated with Lützelburger on the printed alphabet (c1523), treating each Latin letter from A to Z as a terrifying miniature stage of Death’s antique. Unlike almost everything he painted, these paintings were not commissioned. Holbein stirs his imagination in his time, and as a result he becomes more famous than anything else.

Death wears many outfits and takes on different moods with these little tableaus. This can be difficult to decipher with Morgan’s subdued lighting. Hyperactive skeletons are more expressive and creative than any of Holbein’s physical and blood themes. It pulls the abbey from her monastery with a collar, pierces her knight’s armor with a spear, and pierces his intestines cleanly. But it’s also calm, and you can escort the old man with one hand and ride a zither with the other hand to serenade the old man.

Etching a man pushing a team of horses while a skeleton whips a horse

“Death and Farmers” by Hans Lutzellberger (c1526), ​​after design by Holbein © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unlike the portrait of the VIP compliment Image of death The painting skewers rich and powerful things with everyone else. When the senator overruns a luxuriously dressed interlocutor, death sneaks up on the senator, but ignores nearby beggars. It interferes with judges reaching out for bribes from wealthy litigants. Every scene contains a small hourglass, reminding us that we are constantly running out of time.

Death pervades Holbein’s portrait, even if the scene isn’t clearly morbid — after all, he worked in the heart of a bloodthirsty court. More were executed for treason, which was revoked by the power that made him. So did Henry Howard. Of course, just as Holbein reminds us many times, everyone else dies. Each of his paintings is effectively Memento Mori. But on the way to a common destination, he bestowed the sitters (and us) with a record of their magnificent vitality.

Until May 15th themorgan.org

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