Art Review – Hans Holbein The Younger – The Ambassadors

Preston, England
October 22, 2015 8:52am CST
At first glance this 1533 portrait of two highly wealthy Tudor gentlemen looks straight-forward enough. Their names were Jean De Dinterville, and Bishop Georges De Selve. They were ambassadors and emissaries of the Catholic Church visiting Henry 8th to try unsuccessfully to head off his break from Catholicism to bring England into the Protestant Reformation. Look more closely though and you pick up on the paintings rich symbolism and famous use of a startling optical illusion. The symbols are Christian and pagan, with hymn books, sun dials, broken musical instruments, etc. The really weird touch however is the elongated shape on the carpet. Look at it slightly sideways and you see it is a human death skull, known as a memento mori, a reminder of our impending death). Despite their power and wealthy trappings, the visitors and their faith are doomed as are we all. Such a cheerful topic. Arthur Chappell
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search The Ambassadors Artist Hans Holbein the Younger Year 1533 Type Oil on oak Dimensions 207 cm × 209.5 cm (81 in × 82.5 in) Location National Gallery, London The Ambassadors (1533) is a paintin
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5 responses
@BelleStarr (37603)
• Portland, Connecticut
22 Oct 15
I am not quite sure why these are Plantagenet gentlemen,surely they are Tudor Gentlemen. I am a big fan of Hans Holbein and have seen this painting at the National Gallery in London. One could spend a lifetime I suspect finding all the symbolism in his works.
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• Preston, England
22 Oct 15
@BelleStarr thanks, they are Tudor. Doh! fixed that now.
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@BelleStarr (37603)
• Portland, Connecticut
22 Oct 15
@arthurchappell lol we all have those "senior" moment even though I am not sure you are a senior at all!! I knew you were much too good of a writer to want that to stay even though 10 to 1 I am the only one who would have known the difference.lol
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• Preston, England
23 Oct 15
@BelleStarr I should have known - thankful for your vigilance.
@LadyDuck (151795)
• Switzerland
22 Oct 15
I remember this big portrait and the elongated skull, it's a weird picture.
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• Preston, England
22 Oct 15
possibly one of the weirdest ever
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@nonersays (2699)
• United States
22 Oct 15
I would have never noticed the skull if you had not pointed it out.
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• Preston, England
22 Oct 15
It is tricky to spot but certainly there and quite creepy
@Fleura (7198)
• United Kingdom
19 Jul 16
There is always much more to these paintings than meets the eye.
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• Thiruvananthapuram, India
22 Oct 15
I got some new information from your post about symbols are Christian and pagan. I hope you are enjoying the day my friend.
1 person likes this