Saturday, September 11, 2021

The King's Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein

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The King's Painter is a well written biography of Hans Holbein presented by Franny Moyle. Due out 5th Oct 2021 from Abrams, it's 400 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is a layman accessible, precise, and exhaustively annotated biography of Hans Holbein the Younger shown through the lens of his patronage by the important and influential families of the Tudor period, most specifically his interaction and service to King Henry VIII. 

The author does a good job of explaining some of the more esoteric political machinations and background. Holbein was a supremely gifted artist, but he was also a politically astute and intelligent man who often had the regard of the king and managed (for the most part) to avoid being embroiled unnecessarily in the deadly political machinations at court.

The book is not strictly chronological; the author has arranged it in a series of thematic chapters each of which explore Holbein's relationships to other great persons of the time period.The narrative is enhanced by excerpts from extant period letters and journals. It is exhaustively annotated and the chapter notes and bibliography will give readers opportunity for many more hours of learning and research. I cannot state with certainty what this biography provides which is lacking from other biographies of Holbein, but I can say I found it accessible and enjoyable to read. The author doesn't make the reading onerous with overly academic constructions, and I appreciated that.

There are no illustrations included in the early ARC provided for pre-release review. 

Five stars. This would make a superlative selection for public or school library acquisition, or for the home library, especially for fans of art, or history, or both. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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