The Ambassador Painting The Ambassador painting by Hans Holbein is a very popular painting from its time, the Renaissance. This time period is shown by a certain symbol that Hans liked to use in his paintings, the skull. He would place it at the bottom of his paintings as a symbol that this art work is his. The skull is painted in anamorphic perspective, which is a style in the Renaissance period. They say this painting could have up to three meanings. Heavens, Living world, and Death (Holbein’s skull). Examiners of the painting believe it could have been made, with intention to be placed on a stairwell.
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This would allow the person walking up the stairs to be startled by the skull in the picture. The items placed in the painting are also indeed highly symbolic, each with their own tale. The picture places two men in the center, which is thought to be seen as symbolic. The man on the right has clerical dressing while the man on the left is in “secular” attire. It is also thought by some that the objects, such as the open books and symbols of religious knowledge, and Virgin symbolism, link to the unification of capitalism and the church. Others believe that these objects can mean different.
Some suggest religious strife at that time. The men in the picture, Jean de Dinteville (owner of land) and Georges de Selve (Bishop) show a conflict between religious and secular authorities. The lute in the picture is shown with a broken string; this is commonly believed to be a symbol of discord or tension between clergy and scholars. In the picture is also a globe showing the map of the world. It’s thought to have been created in 1530 but of unknown origin. They call it the Ambassadors globe due to its part in this painting. More simple viewed items in the painting are obvious in meaning.
It includes globes, quadrant, sundial, and a torquetum. These items are to show explorative interests of the men in the painting. Also the Oriental rug pictured shows perhaps things gained while on these travels. These rugs are somewhat typically shown in some Renaissance paintings. In conclusion, the Hans Holbein painting is a very simple painting to some, but after further looks can show many hidden messages for the viewer. From skulls portraying death to other symbolic hints to religion and strife, this painting has a lot to offer to the viewer.