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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Sir Thomas Elyot (c.1490-1546)


Creator: Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543) (artist)
Creation Date: 
Black and coloured chalks, white bodycolour, and brush and ink on pale pink prepared paper
27.8 x 20.8 cm
RL 12203
P(H) 15
Acquirer: Edward VI, King of England (1537-53)
Edward VI, 1547; Henry FitzAlan, 12th Earl of Arundel; by whom bequeathed to John, Lord Lumley, 1580; by whom probably bequeathed to Henry, Prince of Wales, 1609, and thus inherited by Prince Charles (later Charles I), 1612; by whom exchanged with Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke, 1627/8; by whom given to Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel; acquired by Charles II by 1675

A portrait drawing of Sir Thomas Elyot (c.1490-1546). A bust length portrait facing three-quarters to the left. He wears a hat and fur collar. A companion portrait to RL 12204 of his wife Margaret, Lady Elyot. Inscribed in an eighteenth-century hand at upper left: Th: Eliott Knight.

Sir Thomas Elyot (c.1490-1546) was a writer and diplomat, and was well respected by his contemporaries in both fields. His most famous publication was The Boke named the Governour, a book of political instruction inspired by classical literature, which was first issued in 1531 and was reprinted a number of times. He also published a comprehensive Latin-English dictionary, and a popular guide to medicine. His work as ambassador to Charles V took him to the continent, where he visited the city of Nuremberg four years after Dürer’s death.

Holbein’s portrait was probably made after Elyot returned from this embassy, on which he had been replaced as ambassador by Thomas Cranmer. Holbein has shown Elyot dressed in a cap and gown with a fur collar, over which he wears a cross on a long chain. The work was a pendant to Holbein’s drawing of Sir Thomas’s wife Margaret.

Catalogue entry adapted from The Northern Renaissance. Dürer to Holbein, London 2011

Further details

Additional Acquirers: Prince Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1st son of James I, King of Great Britain (1594-1612)
Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85)
Unframed Drawings / Watercolours