Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam - Hans Holbein. Paper on wood panel, 36.8 x 30.5 cm.
During his life, the artist created several portraits of the great scientist, nicknamed the "Prince of Humanists". This image is executed in a very restrained manner, which modern man would designate as minimalist. The thinker is depicted in profile against a greenish-olive wall without any details. He is wearing a dark headdress characteristic of his era, in a loose grayish-brown robe with a lush voluminous black collar. Thanks to the restrained color scheme and the minimum number of details, all the attention of the audience is focused on the profile of Erasmus and on his hands, decorated with several precious rings. He is busy, writes one of his philosophical treatises, and seems deeply absorbed in his thoughts.
In the same year, the master writes another portrait of Rotterdam, but completely different in style and manner of depiction. There is no dryness and stiffness of the first picture. This richly decorated canvas in deep, saturated colors. The thinker himself is depicted in the traditional pose for portraits - in a three-quarter turn. The background is a wall going into perspective, decorated with a velvety green curtain, a wooden carved shelf with several books in valuable bindings and with a glass transparent vessel on top.
On the other hand, a contrast to the dark robes of Erasmus is a richly decorated column made in two colors. It has a relief covering not only the capital, but all surfaces.
The portrayed one sits with a calm face and a look directed into the distance, with his hands on the book - one of his compositions. The master intends to highlight his face and hands with lighter, luminous colors, so the attention of the audience is focused on the very personality of the philosopher.
Erasmus of Rotterdam is dressed in rich, loose clothes, lavishly decorated with light, reddish fur. Like most of the paintings of Holbein the Younger, this one also has meticulously painted details. The fur is depicted so perfectly that it seems you can feel its softness and fluffy. The same applies to all details of the canvas - they are meticulously, accurately and clearly written. As a result, the entire small-sized picture becomes a real masterpiece of painting. Considered a brilliant draftsman during his lifetime, Holbein transferred his unique skills to paintings. It was portraits that made him famous for many centuries.