Designs for Medallions

Now trimmed and mounted as small individual drawings, these studies for jeweled pendants and other types of metalwork were likely part of a sketchbook of Holbein’s designs known as the “Jewelry Book.” Lot and His Wife is the only surviving design for a jewel that also appears in one of Holbein’s paintings—Portrait of a Woman, Possibly from the Cromwell Family. It remains unclear, however, whether the artist designed the medallion himself or if this sketch records an object already owned by the sitter. It is equally possible that the jewel is an imaginary piece, invented by Holbein to embellish the portrait and its subject.

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543)
Designs for Medallions, ca. 1532–40
Pen and black ink and wash; silhouetted
The British Museum, London, bequeathed by Sir Hans Sloane in 1753; SL,5308.51, SL,5308.17, SL,5308.142, SL,5308.2, SL,5308.25, SL,5308.76, SL,5308.53, SL,5308.68, SL,5308.52, SL,5308.153, SL,5308.75, SL,5308.155, SL,5308.55