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Symbolism in Holbein's 'Ambassadors' | Paintings | The National Gallery, London

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Decode Holbein's symbols, and see the painting in the context of the religious tensions of the 1530s. Read about the painting, learn the key facts and zoom in to discover more on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/hans-holbein-the-younger-the-ambassadors
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Text Comments (18)
[email protected] (1 month ago)
One of my favourite paintings ever!
Clem Cornpone (3 months ago)
The real message is how gay dudes were. Naked man on the wall, the way they are dressed, Come on, that crap was the stuff that was around those dudes; that's just as likely as all the supposedly learned speculation spout in the video above. The pretense that academics of art history can see further into every painting is vainglorious. The instrument may have actually had a broken string or maybe the artist considered a broken string more interesting to paint. To assume these were coded references to the politics of the time is just speculation, pure and no more.
Amelia Hughes (1 year ago)
monte represent
robert harrold (1 year ago)
fucking great.
the german Hans Holbein , court painter henry VIII, was able to paint with incredible realism,  traits people, like your clothes, hair, and objects of the environment of the person, of different materials, like glass, wood, metal, etc, in my opinion was the best portrait  painter of history
gilesderoet (3 years ago)
I really wish you would stop perpetuating this misinformation, it's not what the painting is about at all. There has been a great deal of academic work on this painting in recent years, and the interpretation as a vanitas or as being about the political situation in England simply doesn't hold up. If anything, that is the third layer of meaning in the painting, below the 'primary' level about the relationship between the two sitters, and the secondary level based in religious symbolism. As a national gallery, it's your responsibility to convey up-to-date ways of looking at and interpreting the painting- rehearse the same century-old misinterpretation is not doing your job.
Ian Cox (4 years ago)
I hadnt noticed the broken lute string. I must look for that next time I visit the National Gallery.
Frank Scivier (4 years ago)
One of Henry VIII's courtiers became jealous of the amount of time he spent with his court painter Hans Holbein. He was rebuked by the king with this scathing reply. "I can if I want make 7 lords from 7 ploughmen, but I cannot make 1 Holbein even from 7 lords". When you look at this painting you realise why he said that. He must have known he had a towering artistic genius working for him.
William Hobbs (5 years ago)
I saw this painting today, it's astonishing.
Englishgrammar (5 years ago)
In the same way that computer games have developed over the years. Starting with simple two dimensional forms, like in the game space invaders, programmers experimented and developed their skills until eventually they achieved a high degree of three dimensional realism. Painters learn their trade. Anyone with good eyesight, adequate motor skills and the appropriate education could paint like that and may, through successful experimentation, contribute to that disciplines development.
cecilia hall (6 years ago)
Wondering whether Dinteville's thumb (resting on table) is pointing to a location on the terrestrial globe, to the New World across the Pillars of Hercules (Atlantis) with the skull being a large island that tragedy befell.
Rob Young (6 years ago)
its funny how a heap of shit is considered art thesedays.
Joel Walker (7 years ago)
The guy on the left is wearing Henry VIII cloths out of his portrait
abbietabby (7 years ago)
How the actual Frick did he manage to paint a skull in so much detail that can only be seen from THE SIDE ?!?!!!?!!? I would have trouble doing that in Photoshop let alone some paints and a brush ?!!!!!
James Brown (1 month ago)
By tilting the panel. It is more then likely an actual study from a skull which was still strictly forbidden by the church at the time. many painters did the same disguising the skull as cloud formations as well.
Atlantis284 (7 years ago)
rogums (7 years ago)
@antoniiathakur with brushes
George McGooligan (7 years ago)
@RageAgainstAuthority 'Back in those days'....so nowadays paintings can't be sold for a lot of money? ..fool. Also it requires far more than effort, it is about talent and the ability to convey sentiment and emotion into an artistic form
GRAMMAR POLICE (7 years ago)
@antoniiathakur Study,practice, determination and a whole bunch of natural talent and intuition.

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