Museums and Art

“Double portrait of notary and judge Thomas Godselv and his son John”, Hans Holbein the Younger - description

“Double portrait of notary and judge Thomas Godselv and his son John”, Hans Holbein the Younger - description

A double portrait of the notary and judge Thomas Godselv and his son John is Hans Holbein the Younger. 35x36

The profession, as you know, leaves its mark on the face of a person. One such example is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, a painter and draftsman, the greatest German artist, the largest representative of his family.

According to the Latin inscription on the paper held by the man on the right, he is identified as Thomas Godselv. Sir Godselva is known to have been born in Norwich; at the time of writing the portrait he was 47 years old (this is also contained in the inscription). A wealthy landowner and close friend of Thomas Cromwell, statesman, chief ideologist of the English Reformation, one of the founders of Anglicanism, was a judge and notary by profession. The name of the young man on the left is not indicated directly on the picture. However, a clear similarity in the features of both faces indicates that it is a father and a son. It is emphasized by the artist with the same angle and similarity in their clothes (although the latter can be explained by professional reasons - such was the attire of a lawyer of that time). Thanks to contacts with Cromwell Godselv’s son, John, later became secretary of the chancellor of the Treasury (when Thomas Cromwell himself was chancellor), and then chancellor.

It is difficult to say what served as a reason for the master to move away from the usual style of portraying characters in a front view of both of which was riveted to something, apparently, very important, beyond the bounds of the picture. One can only guess what it could be: is Cromwell invisibly present here?


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