Portrait of a Hanseatic Merchant

Although this sitter elected to be portrayed with no identifying attributes, his sober attire—a black gown over a black doublet with satin sleeves and a high-collared white shirt tied at the neck— suggests that he was a member of the Hanseatic League. The work was painted on the occasion of the man’s thirty-third birthday. Reaching this number of years often led to commemorative portrait commissions, as it was the age at which Christ was believed to have been crucified.

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543)
Portrait of a Hanseatic Merchant, 1538
Oil on panel
Inscribed on the background, in Latin: The year of Our Lord 1538 / At the age of 33
Yale University Art Gallery, gift of Charles S. Payson, B.A. 1921; 1977.187