- List Price: $29.95
- Binding: Paperback
- Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
- Publish date: 01/01/1998
Holbein's famous life-size double portrait The Ambassadors is one of the best known and most impressive of his surviving works. Yet the subject matter has always presented intriguing problems. Who precisely were the two ambassadors of the title? Why did they choose to be painted together -- with an array of globes, astronomical and musical instruments, books and other objects placed on shelves between them, a skull concealed in the foreground of the painting, and a crucifix partially hidden behind a curtain? The recent careful cleaning and restoration of The Ambassadors has enabled an art historian, conservator, and scientist at the National Gallery in London to collaborate on a thorough study of the making and meaning of this fascinating painting.
The identity of the sitters -- two French ambassadors to the court of Henry VIII of England -- and why they were painted together are discussed in relation to the religious and power struggles in England and Europe. The authors clarify the iconography and the significance the wealth of objects in the picture may have had for the sitters. Their description of the making of this painting compared with the artist's other surviving works and with other pictures of the period greatly increases our knowledge of Holbein's techniques and working methods.
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