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Three Double Portraits
Portraits always tread a tightrope between the expectations of the sitter and the capacities of the artist, between likeness and style, appearance and insight. Double portraits see this tension taken a significant step further, inviting the viewer to explore the ways a relationship can be revealed (or occluded) via its representation.
The Ambassadors – Hans Holbein, 1533
Two visiting Frenchmen painted in London by German immigrant artist Hans Holbein, “The Ambassadors” might be viewed as a swish, swaggering statement of rank and identity. A closer look at its historical context places its creation at a moment of remarkable political and religious tension. Was Holbein just painting a couple of fashion-conscious European court visitors or is there another message in the prominent central still life and the strange distorted skull that intrudes into the realistic space occupied by the sitters?
The final lecture is:
Wednesday 29th March - Mr and Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough
All three paintings are in the National Gallery, London.
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