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Hans Holbein: The Ambassadors  wikidata:Q1212937 
creator QS:P170,Q48319
Hans Holbein: The Ambassadors

Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve.

Alternative title(s):

The Ambassadors.
Object type painting

Holbein painted this work in the early part of his second stay in England, which began in 1532. At this time he was prolific, painting Hanseatic merchants, courtiers, landowners, and visitors. The Ambassadors is his most famous and perhaps greatest painting of this period. The life-sized panel portrays Jean de Dinteville, an ambassador of Francis I of France in 1533, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur, who visited London the same year.

Until the publication of Mary F. S. Hervey's Holbein's Ambassadors: The Picture and the Men in 1900, the identity of the two figures in the picture had been a matter of intense debate. In 1890, Sidney Colvin was the first to propose the figure on the left as Jean de Dinteville, Seigneur of Polisy (1504–1555), French ambassador to the court of Henry VIII for most of 1533. Shortly afterwards, the cleaning of the picture revealed his seat of Polisy as one of only four places marked on the globe. Hervey identified the man on the right as Georges de Selve (1508/09–1541), Bishop of Lavaur, after tracing the painting's history back to a 17th-century manuscript. Hervey's identification of the sitters has remained the standard one, affirmed in several extended studies of the painting. However, rival speculation is not entirely dead. Opposition to the identification of de Selve has been based on an inventory of 1589, discovered by Riccardo Famiglietti, which names the man on the right as de Dinteville's brother François. Leading scholars of the painting argue that this identification of 1589 was incorrect.
Depicted people
Date 1533
date QS:P571,+1533-00-00T00:00:00Z/9
Medium oil and tempera on oak panel
Dimensions Height: 207 cm (81.4 ″); Width: 209 cm (82.2 ″)
dimensions QS:P2048,207U174728;P2049,209U174728
institution QS:P195,Q180788
Accession number
Object history : purchased by the National Gallery, London
  • Kom heiliger geyst herregot/erfüll mit deiner gnaden gut/deiner gleubgen hertz, mut und sin/ dein brünstig lib entzünd in ihn/ O herr durch deines liechtes glast/zu dem glauben versamlet hast/ das volck aller welt zungen/des sey dir Her zu lob gesungen.

  • Foister, Susan; Ashok Roy; & Martyn Wyld, Making & Meaning: Holbein's Ambassadors, London: National Gallery Publications, 1997, ISBN 1857091736.
  • North, John, The Ambassadors' Secret: Holbein and the World of the Renaissance, London: Phoenix, 2004, ISBN 184212661X.
  • Rowlands, John, Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, Boston: David R. Godine, 1985, ISBN 0879235780, 139–41.

Further reading

  • Hervey, Mary F.S., Holbein's "Ambassadors": The Picture and the Men. An Historical Study, London, George Bell & Sons, 1900, OCLC 8256471.
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Source/Photographer Web Gallery of Art:  Inkscape.svg Image Information icon.svg Info about artwork
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current04:05, 16 February 2011Thumbnail for version as of 04:05, 16 February 20111,084 × 1,069 (182 KB)Dcoetzee (talk | contribs)Reverted to version as of 23:13, 3 December 2004; do not overwrite images with different images, I'll use CommonsDelinker to change the links
03:29, 23 August 2010Thumbnail for version as of 03:29, 23 August 20104,215 × 4,226 (2.73 MB)Helms (talk | contribs)Higher quality update for most used file
23:13, 3 December 2004Thumbnail for version as of 23:13, 3 December 20041,084 × 1,069 (182 KB)Stw (talk | contribs)The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger. {{PD-Art}}
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