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Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
A Merchant of the German Steelyard: 'Hans of Antwerp'
XQG 1978 Holbein 22
Hans Holbein the Younger was born in Augsburg where he was trained by his father, Hans Holbein the Elder. He became a member of the painter's guild at Basel in 1519. He visited France in 1524 and first visited London in 1526-8. He returned to England in 1532 and shortly afterwards was employed by Henry VIII for whom he painted numerous portraits of the King, the Royal Family and members of the court. Holbein remained in royal service until his death (probably caused by plague) in 1543.
It is thought that this is a portrait of Hans of Antwerp, a goldsmith who worked in England from 1515 and was in royal employ between 1537 and 1547. It seems that he and Holbein were friends; Holbein designed an elaborate cup for the goldsmith, which was inscribed HANS VON ANT, and on 7 October 1543 Hans of Antwerp witnessed Holbein's Will.