- Museum number
Portrait of Sigmund Holbein; head and shoulders in profile to right, with shoulder-length wavy hair, a beard and moustache. 1512
Silverpoint, with black and red chalk, heightened with white bodycolour, on white prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 129 millimetres
Width: 96 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Edited from J.Rowlands 'Drawings by German Artists and Artists from German-speaking regions of Europe in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum: the Fifteenth Century, and the Sixteenth Century by Artists born before 1530', London, BM Press, 1993, no. 302:
This portrait is one of two versions drawn by Holbein in metalpoint of the artist's younger brother and collaborator Sigmund Holbein (q.v.) This sheet is much finer and freer in execution than the second drawing, which is in Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ. 2508, inscribed in a different hand, "Sigmund Halbein maler"; Lieb-Stange, p. 101, no. 227, fig. 305; see also Berlin, 'Dürer und seine Zeit', p. 87, no. 101; Basel, 'Holbein', pp. 88f, no. 34). This drawing was formerly in the collection of Joachim von Sandrart (1606-88), the well-known artist and collector, who assumed it to be by Hans Holbein the Younger, and designed an engraving of it for his publication of artists' biographies. The sheet was first attributed to the elder Holbein by Woltmann. The present drawing is the only fully documented portrait of Sigmund Holbein. A later copy, made according to an inscription on the verso from the version in Berlin, is in Düsseldorf (inv. no. FP 9757). Other important drawings by Hans Holbein the Elder which record the appearance of his family are the portrait of his sons Ambrosius and Hans in Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett, KdZ. 2507; see C Müller in 'Dürer Holbein, Grünewald, Meisterzeichnungen der deutschen Renaissance aus Berlin und Basel, exhibition catalogue, Basel and Berlin, 1997, no.8.11); and the self-portrait at Chantilly (Musée Condé), also from Sandrart's collection (Lieb-Stange, p. 112, no. 293, fig. 370). The inscription on the present sheet appears to be all in the artist's hand, but Edmund Schilling considered the second line "hans pruder des alten" to be added at a later date, and Falk considered these words to have been added by Hans Burgkmair, as there are indications that Burgkmair owned - and possibly retouched - a certain number of Holbein the Elder's silverpoint studies (T. Falk, 'Burlington Magazine', May, 1995, p.325). Scientific analysis of the technique in the inscription does show, however, that it was produced with the same type of silver-based metalpoint containing mercury as used for the drawing (see Russell, Rayner, Bescoby, p. 70).
Lit. from Rowlands 1993: 'JCR, pp. 185f., no. 531; Woltmann, ii, p. 84, no. 235; Sandrart, Teutsche Academie, pp. 98f; Schilling, Holbein, p. 14, no. 3, repr.; Lieb-Stange, p. 102, no. 228, pl. 306; Augsburg, Holbein, pp. 12f, no. 92, pl. 93; BM Portrait Drawings, pp. 7f., no. 8; J. Heringa, Ned. Kunst. Jaarb., xxxii, 1981, pp. 80, 93, fig. 17; BM. Dürer and Holbein, pp. 192-4, no. 165, repr.'
Additional literature: G. Bartrum in Stacey Sell and Hugo Chapman, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns', Princeton and Oxford, 2015 pp. 68, pl. 25; Joanna Russell, Judith Rayner and Jenny Bescoby, ' Northern European Metalpoint Drawings: technical examination and analysis', London, 2016, pp. 25 and 70.
Label text, 2005:
Sigmund Holbein (died 1540) was the younger brother and collaborator of Hans Holbein the Elder, who operated a large and successful workshop in Augsburg that specialized in the production of elaborate altarpieces. Hans Holbein's most striking and original work are his numerous portrait drawings, many of Augsburg citizens. His talent in this genre was inherited and eventually superseded by his son, Hans Holbein the Younger, whose memorable portraits of the Tudor court are in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.8
1988 Jul-Oct, BM, Age of Dürer & Holbein, no.165
1990 Apr-Aug, BM, Treasures of P&D (no cat.)
1996/7 Sept-Jan BM Malcolm Collection, apx.
2005 July-Sept, BM, 'Masterpieces of Portrait Drawing' (no cat.)
2006/7 Sep-Jan, London, Tate Britain, 'Holbein in England'
2015 May-Jul, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
2015 10 Sep-6 Dec, London, British Museum, 'Drawing in Silver and Gold'
- Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Joachim von Sandrart
Previous owner/ex-collection: François Fagel (Sale T. Philipe, 1801, 29 May, lot 84, bt with one other, Philipe? 12s.)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Thomas Lawrence (L.2445)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Samuel Woodburn (Sale, Christie, 1860, 4 June, lot 510, bt with two others, Herman £1 15s)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir John Charles Robinson (L.1433)
Previous owner/ex-collection: John Malcolm of Poltalloch
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number