Holbein, Hans the Elder
Born in Augsburg, Bavaria, Hans received his first lessons in art from his father. In 1515 the younger Holbein went to Basel, Switzerland, with his brother, Ambrosius.
About 1525 the factional strife that accompanied the Reformation made Basel a difficult place for an artist to work. In 1526 Holbein, carrying a letter of introduction from Erasmus to the English statesman and author Sir Thomas More, set out for London. He met with a favorable reception in England and stayed there for two years. In 1528 he returned to Basel, where he painted portraits and murals for the town hall. In 1532 he left his wife and children there and traveled once again to London.
In England, where he became court painter to Henry VIII, Holbein was known chiefly as a painter of portraits. His services were much in demand. The more than 100 miniature and full-size portraits he completed at Henry's court provide a remarkable document of that colorful period. In 1543 Holbein was in London working on another portrait of the king when he died, a victim of the plague.
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