Turkish Holbein Rugs & Carpets
A 'Small Pattern Holbein' rug, first half 16th C.
176 x 113cm; 5 ft. 9 in. x 3 ft. 9 in. The 'Small Pattern Holbein' design is named after the artist Hans Holbein the Younger.
Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons
c. 1543 Oak. 180,3 x 312,4 cm
The Ambassadors by Holbein the Younger
Here we have a very unusual touch in this painting. In the lower center of this painting is an anamorphic rendering of a skull. Namorphosis is a form of perspective that obeys all the laws of perspective but appears distorted on first glance. There is a view in which the anamorphic rendering is rendered correctly. This skull however is an exception to the rule in that, while it was projected and traced by Holbein, the lens was shifted slightly, causing a slight distortion to the back portion of the skull.
This picture memorializes two wealthy, educated, and powerful young men. At the left is Jean de Dinteville, aged 29, French ambassador to England in 1533. To the right stands his friend, Georges de Selve, aged 25, Bishop of Lavaur, who acted on several occasions as ambassador to the Emperor, the Venetian Republic and the Holy See.
The picture is in a tradition showing learned men with books and instruments. The objects on the upper shelf include a celestial globe, a portable sundial, and various other instruments used for understanding the heavens and measuring time. Among the objects on the lower shelf is a lute, a case of flutes, a hymn book, a book of arithmetic, and a terrestrial globe. Certain details could be interpreted as references to contemporary religious divisions. The broken lute string, for example, may signify religious discord, while the Lutheran hymn book may be a plea for Christian harmony. In the foreground is the distorted image of a skull, a symbol of mortality. When seen from a point to the right of the picture, the distortion is corrected.
The Darmstadt Madonna by Holbein the Younger
Virgin and Child with the family of Burgomaster Meyer. 1528. Oil on wood. 146.5 x 102 cm. Schlossmuseum, Darmstadt.
Meyer von Hasen had a difficult time in life. The two kneeling women were his deceased wives and the two boys are his sons who died young. The little girl was his daughter who was the only one living besides Meyer when this was painted. By the time this was painted Meyer was ex-burgomaster, having been impeached.
The Holbein rugs fall into two groups This one is closest to what is called a Holbein Panel Rug. These are often called large Pattern Holbein. There are some significant differences from the quintessential large pattern Holbein carpet. Here we have medallions made up of diamond and squares. Normally we would expect a octagonal medallion with the medallion dividing the square compartment leaving a triangular area in each corner which would have a design. The normal Panel Holbein design group falls into two general categories. First the bracket group and secondly the plait work like basketry group. Here we have neither because of a lack of the octagon "wheel" and the corner accoutrements as significant.
The main border is unusual as well. The main border is a connected "S" pattern that is more common as a minor or guard border. The "S" border bears a marked resemblance to that in the early 15th or 17th century Ming Dragon and Phoenix pile rugs. There is some difference of opinion as to the age of the Ming Dragon and Phoenix pile rug. Most people use the 15th century date but Reinhard Hubel constructed a technical argument that the rug was early 17th century. The Hubel date would make it contemporaneous with this Holbein Panel rug.