Hidden Meanings

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533, The National Gallery, London.

Hans Holbein the Younger was born in Germany but spent most of his career in England as the court painter to Henry VIII. His work was strongly influenced by the Northern Renaissance painters like Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Wyden. Their realistic style rendered in bright jewel tones, was his style, as well. This portrait of two men thought to be ambassadors to the English court from France, is filled with hints and puzzles about the men's lives, and even a message for we viewers. On the bottom of the piece in the center, you see a skull painted in Anamorphic perspective. It is seen only from particular angles and is thought be placed there to remind us all of our mortality.