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Katarina Schwartz's portrait with attributes of her Saint patroness :: Hans Holbejn The Elder

Katarina Schwartz's portrait with attributes of her Saint patroness :: Hans Holbejn The Elder - 2 women portraits 16th century hall
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1509, 39×28 cm

Gotha, lock Museum Fridenstein

He was a senior in a known family of artists to which his brother Siegmund and sons Ambrosius and Hans Holbein Jr. belonged.

In early works influence of flandrsky school, and also Martina Shongauera is noticeable. In the latest — influence of the Italian Renaissance. Its some works were attributed earlier to the youthful period of his more well-known son and the namesake.

Chief representative of the realistic direction in Swabian school. The naturalism full of life and typicalness, isn't deprived of nobility.

At the mention of a name Holbein we is remembered at once Hans Holbein Jr. remarkable portraits, but the very few know about Hans Holbein Sr. existence (apprx. 1465-1524) who appeared as though in a shadow of an international recognition of the son. However this artist played extremely important role in formation of art of the Southern Germany at a turn of 15-16 centuries. It was the only painter among the whole generation, managed rather deeply to apprehend the new principles of the Renaissance art. Hans Holbein Sr. was the head of a big workshop and had impact on many German artists, among them on such master, as Mathias Grunewald. He was the largest German portraitist to Duerer. And, at last, it is impossible to overestimate value of creativity of this painter for formation of the independent art concept of Hans Holbein Jr.

Hans Holbein Sr. was born in the city of Augsburg, in a family of the handicraftsman who was engaged in processing of skin. Holbein traveled to youth much. Assume that it worked in Martin Shongauer's workshop and visited the Netherlands. By 1494 the artist comes back to the hometown and marries Foma Burgmayr's daughter, the successful augsburgsky painter. He gives birth to two sons - Ambrosius and Hans. Holbein's affairs go very successfully, he becomes at the head of the big workshop, one of the most considerable in the Southern Germany. At first his brother Siegmund and Leonard Vek were Holbein's closest assistants, then workshop activity actively joins very capable sons to painting.

Workshop prosperity was promoted in many respects by the atmosphere of Augsburg which by the end of the 15th century becomes the center of Swabia, the largest trade and craft city where develop weapon business, a publishing house and applied art. Artists use protection of the richest families. Augsburgsky humanists, advisers to the emperor Maksimilian, promote dissemination of knowledge about the newest phenomena of the European culture. The free cosmopolitan spirit of the city substantially caused not only development of art of painting, but also organic perception of ideals of the Renaissance. The desire to be in the fashion and to satisfy tastes of educated customers led to a cult of external beauty of a form, sometimes due to loss of the deep internal contents. In this art situation Holbein better than other masters managed to apprehend and express new esthetic ideals of an era that finally and defined his leading situation among the augsburgskikh of painters. Many of them start imitating Holbein's picturesque manner, it is possible to carry to number of his followers and pupils Hans Burgmeir, Jörg Brey, Martin Shaffner and some other artists.

Holbein's glory goes out of Augsburg. Him invite to work to many cities of the Southern Germany. In 1499 it works in Ulm, two years later Holbein writes altar pictures for Dominicans in Frankfurt am Main. At the beginning of the century the artist repeatedly carries out orders of Alsace monasteries, and in 1516 he makes the decision finally to move to Alsace and settles in Izengeym where dies eight years later. In the last years of life, after closing augsburgsky masterful Holbein works together with the sons. With the son Hans he creates lists of interiors and facades of the house of Yakov Gertenstein in Lucerne in which scenes of hunting were combined with genre compositions. In the twenties Holbein departs from vigorous activity and only sometimes acts as the assistant to the son. So was in operating time over Hans Oberrid's altar where Holbein Starshy executed only a few portraits of donators. Cooperation between family members Holbein was very close that does distinction of individual manners by extremely complex challenge. It is probable for this reason for a long time many creations of the father were attributed to sons, first of all Hans Holbein Jr. on whom the attention of researchers was riveted.

Style of painting of Hans Holbein Sr. underwent considerable evolution. Early works of the artist are made still entirely in traditions of the German painting of the 15th century. They show influences of the Netherlands school and especially Rogir van der Weyden, expressed and in a careful light-and-shade modeling of forms, and in abundance naturalistically exact details. Volume figures are often written on a conditional gold background, Gothic decorative motives are actively used. Already in these early works uncommon coloristic skill of the artist, aspiration to proportional and sgarmonizirovanny composition was shown with is clear the allocated center. The beauty whole for Holbein is always more important than expressiveness of a separate image.

Gradually in Holbein's creativity there is an interest to spatial decisions. If in pictures of the Kaysgeymsky altar of 1502 the composition still is under construction as in a relief and action develops parallel to the picture plane, in two years in the image "St. Pavel's basilicas" the artist tries to create difficult, being developed in depth, multidimensional space. And though in coordination of plans constraint and some mekhanistichnost is felt, the closest attention the aspiration of the master to go beyond habitual graphic decisions is worthy. It shows origin of new art vision.

Final transition to the Renaissance style can be observed in works of 1508-16. It is remarkable that development of new style begins with fixed interest to the Renaissance scenery. The master willingly copies architectural motives, ornaments, sculptural jewelry. The perception of new art goes not through understanding of humanistic ideals of Renaissance, and through purely external forms which, apparently, very much were pleasant and not wishing to lag behind fashion to customers. Holbein's most perfect creation is considered St. Sebastian's which now is storing in the Munich Picture gallery the altar. The image of the suffering Sebastian величествен also is monumental, behind each detail attentive studying of nature is felt. And still the master here doesn't manage to reach an absolute organichnost of the image. There is a feeling that behind the Renaissance forms there is a different way of art thinking, for which drive of realities of the objective world only means for expression of supersensual values.

Holbein worked in the environment living still substantially by medieval representations. It is indicative that generally the artist wrote altar images for provincial Catholic monasteries of the Southern Germany. For decoration of the same monasteries Holbein did also the cardboards which then were reproduced in painting on glass (till our time remained 17 windows painted on sketches of the artist). Character of orders, the spiritual environment in many respects defined that a little external perception of the Renaissance art culture which we see in a number of works of the master.

The interesting part of heritage of Holbein is made by portraits. Very few picturesque portraits remained, but there is a significant amount of drawings, in the majority made a silver pencil. These drawings were created and as auxiliary studies for multifigured compositions, and as the independent portrait images which most likely had a great success. Drawings rare accuracy in the nature drive distinguishes, almost total absence of the stylized forms, perfect graphic skill. Holbein in portraits isn't attracted by details, he focuses attention on the maintenance of images in which spirituality and special mood of easy grief is emphasized. Comparing these modest drawings to Hans Holbein Jr. recognized masterpieces, distinctly you understand how much in creativity of the son originates in peculiar, considerable and, unfortunately, half-forgotten art of the father.

Submitted by: Milona

Published: 04.08.2014



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