- Museum number
Portrait of a young man; head and shoulders in profile to left, wearing a hat with curly hair beneath
Brush drawing in grey and black wash, touched with red chalk, and pen and brown ink; the background in red bodycolour.
- Production date
- 1517-1519 (circa)
Height: 148 millimetres
Width: 122 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Summary of 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. 298:
This was first published by Dodgson, who attributed it to Hans Holbein the Younger. He placed it at the beginning of the artist's career, even though there are no similarly executed drawings from that period with which it can be compared. He discounted the possibility of it being by Ambrosius on the grounds that he was not capable of such fine work; however, both Parker and Hugelshofer disagreed, the latter asserting Ambrosius's authorship by comparing it with his 'Portrait of a young man' in silverpoint, red chalk and pen and ink, signed with his monogram and dated 1517 in Basel (Kunstmuseum, inv. no. 1662.207a; see C. Müller, ' Katalog der Zeichnungen des15. und 16. Jahrhunderts, Teil 2a, Die Zeichnungen von Hans Holbein dem Jüngeren und Ambrosius Holbein', Basel, 1996, no.2). There is no doubt that the shortness of Ambrosius's career and the small number of surviving works have made it difficult to attribute this drawing to him, but it is worth considering, in this connection, the painted 'Portrait of Johannes Zimmermann', dated 1520 (Rowlands, 'Holbein', p. 229, no. R.8, pl. 212) now in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (inv. no. 1195) which although completed by a different artist, is almost certainly the last important work by Ambrosius that has come down to us.There is such a close affinity between the present drawing and this portrait in the manner in which the sitters have been depicted that it seems highly probable that the present drawing is a late work by Ambrosius.
Lit. from Rowlands 1993: ' C. Dodgson, BMQ, i, 1926, pp. 35f; C. Dodgson, Vasari Society, vii, 2nd series, 1926, no. 10, repr.; NA-CF Report, 1926, p. 18, no. 532a, repr.; Hugelshofer, Schweizer Handz., p. 39, no. 55, repr.; Winkler, K&S, p. 163, no. A.I, repr.; BM Dürer and Holbein, p. 220, no. 187, repr.'
Label text 2005:
Ambrosius Holbein was the older brother of Hans Holbein the Younger. Despite an early death, he showed considerable talent as a portraitist. This drawing is close in style to a portrait of a young man, signed by Ambrosius and dated 1517 (Basel, Kupferstichkabinett). The appearance of the two brothers as teenagers is recorded in a portrait drawing of 1511 by Hans Holbein the Elder in Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett ).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984, BM, 'Master Drawings & Watercolours', no. 59
1988, July-Oct, BM, 'Age of Dürer & Holbein', no. 187
2003/4 Oct-Jan, London, Hayward Gallery, 'Saved!100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund', no.34
2005, 7 July-25 Sept, BM, 'Masterpieces of Portrait Drawing' (no cat.)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased from the descendants of Kerrich by the NACF, with the aid of contributions of £200 by Sir Otto Beit, and £105 by Calouste Gulbenkian.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number