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The King's Painter : The Life and Times of Hans Holbein

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'A great, thrusting codpiece of a book. It is big, bombastic and richly brocaded ... A jewel in its own right' The Times

A beautifully written book tracing the life and work of Hans Holbein

Hans Holbein the Younger is chiefly celebrated for his beautiful and precisely realised portraiture, which includes representations of Henry VIII, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Anne of Cleves, Jane Seymour and an array of the Tudor lords and ladies he encountered during the course of two sojourns in England. But beyond these familiar images, which have come to define our perception of the world of the Henrician court, Holbein was a protean and multi-faceted genius: a humanist, satirist, political propagandist, and contributor to the history of book design as well as a religious artist and court painter.

The rich layers of symbolism and allusion that characterise his work have proved especially fascinating to scholars. Franny Moyle traces and analyses the life and work of an extraordinary artist against the backdrop of an era of political turbulence and cultural transformation, to which his art offers a subtle and endlessly refracting mirror.

  • Author: Franny Moyle
  • Paperback: 576 pages | 3 x 8 pp colour
  • Date published: March 2022
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9781788541220
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.8 cm


Vivid, judicious and lavishly illustrated' ― Sunday Times

'A lavish, unflagging catalogue and summary of the state of our knowledge of Holbein' ― Daily Telegraph

'Vivid and engaging ... Drawing on extensive research, Moyle proves that Holbein was so much more than just a painter ... Although The King's Painter is fascinating for the fresh perspective it gives of the Tudor world, its greatest achievement is to bring Holbein out from behind his easel and shown him in all his brilliant, multi-faceted, human glory'  BBC World History Magazine

'This fascinating account brings the Tudor era compellingly to life'  History Revealed

'I devoured this book in days. It brings to vibrant, colourful life the man who gave us almost our entire visual understanding of Henry VIII and his court. Thoroughly researched and written with a verve and style that makes reading it like reading a good novel' ― Aspects of History

'The publisher Head of Zeus is acquiring a reputation for producing gorgeous-looking books. This life of Holbein is a case in point. Holbein's extraordinary life story is traced from Germany to the court of Henry VIII, where he painted the monarch in that famous power stance. Not all the paintings are so simple in their messages. The Ambassadors, with its mysterious stretched image of a skull, is typical of Holbein’s tricksy style' ― The Times

'This excellent, lavishly illustrated, biography of Hans Holbein the Younger vividly captures the artist's life, times and work amid the religious and political turmoil of the 16th century' ― Choice Magazine

'A lavish, ravishing thing'  - The Spectator Books of the Year

'In The King’s Painter: The Life and Times of Hans Holbein (Head of Zeus), Franny Moyle has gathered the relatively few facts known about the portraitist and combined them adroitly with the wealth of material about Henrician England to show how a Basel native became our great national painter' - New Statesman Books of the Year

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