Hans Holbein was the first great mainland painter to spend much time in England and he brought with him a sophistication and skill with far reaching consequences for this island's artistic development.
His 'Ambassadors' is recognised by the National Gallery of London as one of its greatest treasures. It dates from a tradition in the arts when no object was without meaning and symbolism. However, practically all of this meaning has been lost to the modern observer.
This lecture considers the tempestuous circumstances of its creation and the hidden messages concealed within it. The painting tells us much about the state of Europe at the time and the hopes and fears of its major players, as Henry VIII moved to a break with the continent and 'privatised' major assets, providing telling comparisons with recent events.
"People are understanding that the past really matters,
that we are not separate from history.
It's not an exam we pass. It's something we are in,
and we are not just rationally involved
but emotionally involved in the past and its legacy."
Asked his wife what was the most memorable art experience of her life?' (Remembering that she has been to Florence, Rome and so on);
'She thought about it and said:
"The morning we had with Anthony at the National Gallery, particularly the moment with the picture with the hidden scull.'"
"Your lecture went down a storm with excellent reviews all round. I personally learnt so much that morning."
VALERIE RAVEN-HILL (Oundle DFAS Programme Secretary)
"At today’s committee meeting it was reported that a large number of members had congratulated us on setting up such a fascinating and enjoyable lecture. Best wishes to the Chandos Foundation."
DAVID CHAPLIN (North Herts DFAS)
PORTRAIT OF JAMES PERCY BY ANTHONY RUSSELL
(PRIVATE COLLECTION, CALIFORNIA, USA)