Hans grew up with talented artists such as Hans Holbein who was his father, his uncle Sigismund as well as Ambrosius, his brother, were all painters.
In around 1515, he started painting works in Basel. He painted portraits of Basel Mayor, Jacob Meyer and his wife.
Holbein designed the portrait of Renaissance humanist known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. He also worked for reformist clients and other religious leaders.
Erasmus received many requests for the picture which Holbein handled. Erasmus introduced Holbein to Sir Thomas More who was a respected scholar and renowned lawyer.
Through More’s connection, Holbein attracted famous leaders and started painting works for Henry VIII who was King of England.
Sir Thomas More Portrait
Erasmus influenced the life of Holbein the Younger. He gave Holbein an introduction letter to More in London. In 1526 Holbein moved to London from Basel.
More was a philosopher and Speaker of House of Commons. Holbein designed his portrait in a Greek cloth with robes trimmed in fur.
His neck has a collar of esses signifying More’s service to the King. Holbein also did portrait works for More’s family.
King Henry VIII Portrait
The portrait painting of Henry VIII is one the notable paintings done by Holbein the Younger. Henry VIII was the King of England in the 16th century and had six wives.
Henry VIII was a significant personality in the British History and the Roman Catholic Church in England. Holbein designed the portrait of Henry VIII in 1536 outlining the King’s 37 years in charge. Henry VIII made Holbein the Younger the royal painter and assigned him to paint his wives.
One of the toughest assignments Henry appointed Holbein was to portray young women who were to be King’s 4th queen. One of the portraits Holbein designed was the image of Anne of Cleves.
Anne of Cleves won but couldn't leave up to Henry's standards of her crafted image and Henry divorced her after several months. Holbein designed the portraits of Henry with front pose with royal jewels to show dominant personality as the leader.
Holbein the Younger painted the Ambassadors in 1533. The painting outlines lives of the French ambassador to England and his close friend Georges de Selve. Georges acted as the ambassador to the Republic of Venice, to the Pope in Rome, Germany, Spain and England. The picture shows memory of the two educated men with books and instruments.
The portrait has an upper and lower shelf. The top shelf mimics the heavens and has items such as the celestial globe and other devices for comprehending the sky and time measurement.
The bottom shelf has a hymn book, terrestrial planet among other items displaying the world.
Holbein painted the portrait during a period full of rivalries between Kings of England and France, the Roman Emperor and Pope. Additionally, at the time the church was not in agreement with the issue of Reformation.
Portrait of Thomas Cromwell
Holbein went back to England in 1532 and kept off from King Henry. Thomas Cromwell was an opponent of Henry in religious polices. He created anticlerical woodcuts.
The portrait displays a sad face with legal documents, scissors and quill.
An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments
Holbein the Younger stayed in England in 1530s. He did the portrait of Old and New testament around 1533 to 1535. On the left side shows decay in Old testament while the right is salvation as in New Testament.
A tree divides the two at the centre. A man is sitting in the middle. Prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist shows the man which way to go.
The portrait displays the different interpretations of Bible at the time. Holbein summarised the Bible in the picture and outlined apparent differences between the Old and New Testaments.
Holbein continued with his works on religious paintings. He used the decorative framework and knowledge Italian Renaissance. He made the passion portrait with the limewood panel.
The portrait has eight scenes which signify the eight passions of Christ. The painting has four tall panels. The tapestries are divided twice horizontally.
The Merchant Georg Gisze Portrait
The portrait shows Georg Gisze who was a merchant from Gdansk. Georg is sitting at a table writing with various instruments.
There writing implements, kings, flowers, and a seal. Holbein the Younger designed many other great portraits until around the year 1543.