In the early 1500s in Basel, Switzerland, the German artist Hans Holbein the Younger—born in the winter of 1497-98—was assisting his father, Hans Holbein the Elder, in the painting of murals and religious works, and the creation of stained-glass windows. In 1523, out on his own, he met the scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam—the “Prince of Humanists”—and painted his portrait. Erasmus wears a fur coat and matching hat, and his gaunt face is softened by an inward-looking calm. Holbein’s immaculate technique and progressive humanism soon propelled him to stardom, and before long he was court painter to Henry VIII. Holbein’s paintings came to define the reign of the house of Tudor, as well as the early beginnings of the Church of England. “Capturing Character” presents the life of Holbein through his incomparable portraiture and artifacts from his life and times. Paintings by his contemporaries Jan Gossaert and Quentin Metsys are also in the show. —E.C.
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