Simon George

Holbein drew this image from life, in preparation for the corresponding painted roundel portrait. He employed a delicately layered technique to capture the profile of Simon George of Cornwall, going as far as describing individual wispy hairs that form the sitter’s eyebrow and stubble. Established through the initial sketch, the contour of the head and the facial features could be carried to the painted portrait by tracing outlines onto a panel using paper blackened with chalk. Changes to the composition could be introduced at this stage. In this case, Holbein replaced the stubble on George’s chin with a full beard in the painting, perhaps in accordance with court fashion.

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543)
Simon George, ca. 1535
Black and colored chalks, pen and brush and black ink, and metalpoint on pink prepared paper
Lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; RCIN 912208

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2022