This series from Lorenz Books has been going for a long time and provides a useful, well-illustrated, way into the works of a great many artists from all periods of history.
Hans Holbein played a central role in the history of Britain, being Court Painter to Henry VIII, creating images of him for which the word “iconic” can never be redundant and, famously, painting the portrait of Anne of Cleves that caused so much trouble for Thomas Cromwell and led, at least in part, to his downfall. A portrait of Cromwell himself is uncompromising and suggests a figure the artist perhaps didn’t like that much. Did Henry reject “the Flanders mare”, or did the reality of his physical appearance disgust her so much that she rejected him? History does not relate, but it might explain Cromwell’s fate. Henry was not a man to cross in any way.
Holbein did, however, have a much broader and longer-sustained career and received commissions form Hanseatic merchants as well as the scholar Erasmus. Details of his early life are sketchy, but Rosalind Ormiston, who has taught art history at Kingston University, provides as much detail as possible. She relates known events from the artist’s life to the chronology of his work and analyses works from the whole gamut of his career, often using enlarged details for clarity and to explain a particular point. The book is large-format and all the illustrations that matter are reproduced at an appropriate size, often full-page. The quality of reproduction is excellent, and certainly remarkable for the price – you get a huge amount, not just of illustrations, but of scholarship, for a ridiculously modest outlay.
Overall, a bit of a tour de force.
Click the picture to view on Amazon