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Accession #HNSHLBN01

10.00
HNSHLBN01.jpg

Accession #HNSHLBN01

10.00

0.78" x 1.3" 
Soft Enamel Pin
Single Posted
Rubber Clasp

Inspired by "The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Younger

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0.78" x 1.3" 
Soft Enamel Pin
Single Posted
Rubber Clasp

Inspired by "The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors (1533) is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger. It was created in the Tudor Period in the same year Elizabeth I was born. As well as being a double portrait, the painting contains a still life of several meticulously rendered objects, the meaning of which is the cause of much debate. It also incorporates a much-cited example of anamorphosis in painting. It is part of the collection at the National Gallery in London.

The most notable and famous of Holbein's symbols in the work, is the distorted skull which is placed in the bottom center of the composition. The skull, rendered in anamorphic perspective, another invention of the Early Renaissance, is meant to be a visual puzzle as the viewer must approach the painting nearly from high on the right side, or low on the left side, to see the form as an accurate rendering of a human skull. While the skull is evidently intended as a vanitas or memento mori, it is unclear why Holbein gave it such prominence in this painting. One possibility is that this painting represents three levels: the heavens (as portrayed by the astrolabe and other objects on the upper shelf), the living world (as evidenced by books and a musical instrument on the lower shelf), and death (signified by the skull). It has also been hypothesized that the painting is meant to hang in a stairwell, so that persons walking up the stairs and passing the painting on their left would be startled by the appearance of the skull. A further possibility is that Holbein simply wished to show off his ability with the technique in order to secure future commissions. Artists often incorporated skulls as a reminder of mortality, or at the very least, death. Holbein may have intended the skulls (one as a gray slash and the other as a medallion on Jean de Dinteville's hat) and the crucifix in the upper left corner to encourage contemplation of one's impending death and the resurrection.

Learn more about the work that inspired this pin HERE.