The Ambassadors

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger was produced in 1553 and is considered to be one of the famous artworks of Renaissance Art movement. The work can be viewed now at National Gallery, London


Medium: Oil Painting 

Subject(s): politics


The Ambassadors is a painting produced in 1553 by German artist Hans Holbein the Younger.

One of the most enigmatic and controversial paintings, and has been considered as specific historical reference.

Painting is a double portrait, but contains a number of symbolic objects that are very important for understanding the overall context. The figure on the left side of the painting is Jean de Dinteville, the French ambassador in England, and on the right side is Georges de Selve, the bishop of Lavaur and French ambassador. The painting is created in a crucial historical moment for England. It was a moment when King Henry VIII had decided to separate the Church of England from the catholic world. Objects that are presented between the two figures are scientific instruments, for example globe and quadrant. Anamorphic skull is also on the painting, below the ambassadors, but it is only visible from a certain angle. Although, speculations about the painting’s meaning are numerous, it is pretty clear that the anamorphic skull recalls the Latin sentence memento mori.

The work can be viewed at National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.


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