The J. Paul Getty Museum

An Allegory of Passion

Object Details


An Allegory of Passion


Hans Holbein the Younger (German, 1497/1498 - 1543)




about 1532–1536


Oil on oak panel

Object Number:



45.4 × 45.4 cm (17 7/8 × 17 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

The painted roundel in the center of this diamond-shaped wood panel features a rider in classical attire on a galloping white horse. A panel of this format usually depicted a coat of arms, but here it was adopted for a personal emblem. The unbridled horse-symbolic of vigor, ambition, or passion-carries a rider whose individualized features suggest it might be a portrait. Below, a cartouche holds the Italian inscription E cosi desio me mena (And so desire carries me along) taken from Petrarch's Canzoniere, written about 1342. The patron who commissioned the panel was probably a scholar and a humanist familiar with this text.

The Allegory of Passion has a rich history of ownership. On the back of the panel is the monogram HP, which stands for Henry, Prince of Wales, the older brother of Charles I and one of the first serious art collectors in England. Richard Symonds, a British diarist, next mentioned the painting as being seen in the "Closett of the Lady Anne Mary Howard" at Arundel House in London in 1653.

- about 1612

Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1594 - 1612 (London, England), by inheritance to his younger brother, Charles, about 1612.
Source: Painting bears Henry's stamp.

about 1612 -

King Charles I of England, 1600 - 1649 (London, England), possibly by exchange with Thomas Howard.


Thomas Howard, 2nd earl of Arundel, English, 1585 - 1646 (London; Arundel Castle, Sussex, England), probably by inheritance to Henry Howard, by 1653.

by 1653 - possibly 1684

Henry Howard, 6th duke of Norfolk, English, 1628 - 1684 (Arundel Castle, Sussex, England) and Anne Mary (Somerset) Howard, died 1682, possibly by inheritance to their son, Henry Howard, possibly 1684.
Source: Painting recorded in quarters of Anne Mary (Somerset) Howard, wife of Henry (who later became sixth duke) in 1653.

possibly 1684 -

Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, 1655 - 1701 (Arundel Castle, Sussex, England)

- 1936

Rev. E.W.M. de la Hay, died 1936 (Cerney House, Gloucester, England), by inheritance to his wife, Mrs. E.M.W. de la Hay, 1936.

1936 - 1953

Mrs. E.W.M. de la Hay (Cerney House, Gloucester, England) [sold, Hay sale, Knowles, Gloucester, 1953, to Thomas G. Burn.]

1953 - 1978

Thomas G. Burn (Rous Lench Court, Hereford and Worcester, England) [sold, Burn sale, Knowles, Gloucester, July 11, 1978, lot 281, to Anthony Haynes.]

1978 - 1979

Anthony Haynes (Coventry, West Midlands, England) [sold, Haynes sale, Christie's, London, February 9, 1979, lot 24, to Colnaghi, David Carritt, Ltd., Anthony Speelman, and William P. Garred.]
Note: as circle of Giulio Romano

1979 - 1980

Colnaghi (London, England) and David Carritt, Ltd. (London, England) and Anthony Speelman (London, England) and Dr. William P. Garred (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980.

The Earl and Countess of Arundel: Renaissance Collectors (May 2 to October 1, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), May 2 to October 1, 1995
La Beaute (May 25 to October 1, 2000)
  • Palais du Papes (Avignon), May 25 to October 1, 2000
Holbein in England (September 28, 2006 to January 7, 2007)
  • Tate Britain (London), September 28, 2006 to January 7, 2007
Holbein: Capturing Character in the Renaissance (October 19, 2021 to May 15, 2022)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 19, 2021 to January 9, 2022
  • The Morgan Library & Museum (New York), February 11 to May 15, 2022

Symonds, R. Manuscript notebook in the British Museum, Department of Manuscripts (1653), Egerton ms 1636, f. 88v.

Vertue, G. Manuscript notebook, British Museum MS 23,081 f__. (1722).

Hervey, Mary F. S. The Life, Correspondance and Collections of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1921), p. 521.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Fine Old Masters. February 9, 1979, p. 11, no. 24, pl. 6.

Fletcher, John. "Exhibits at Ballots. 4. A Panel-Maker's Brand Mark and Holbein's Stay at Antwerp in 1526." Antiquaries Journal 61, no. 2 (1981), p. 339.

Norman, Geraldine. “The Bargain Holbein—or is it a Holbein?” ARTnews 80, no. 1 (January 1981), pp. 134-36, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. "E COSI DESIO ME MENA." J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 10 (1982), pp. 21-38.

Fletcher, John. "Panel Examination and Dendrochronology." J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 10 (1982), pp. 39-44.

Fletcher, John, and Margaret Cholmondeley Tapper. "Hans Holbein the Younger at Antwerp and in England, 1526-1528." Apollo 117 (February 1983), pp. IV, 88-89, 91, 93, pl. 90.

Beal, Mary. A Study of Richard Symonds: His Italian Notebooks and Their Relevance to Seventeenth-Century Painting Techinques (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1984), p. 298 (Ms. Egerton 1636, f. 178).

Fletcher, John. "The Study of Early Paintings on Flemish Panels." Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (1984), pp. 10-12, 16, 21, 25, figs. 2B, 3-4.

Rowlands, John. Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, Complete Edition (Oxford: Phaidon, 1985), p. 238, no. R.47, fig. 256.

Campbell, Lorne. Review of Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, by John Rowlands. Burlington Magazine 128, no. 995 (February 1986), p. 149.

Strong, Roy. Henry, Prince of Wales and England's Lost Renaissance (London: Thames and Hudson, 1986), p. 194, fig. 102.

Sox, David. Unmasking the Forger: The Dossena Deception (New York: Universe Books, 1987), p. 153n36.

Haskell, Francis. "Charles I's Collection of Pictures." In The Late King's Goods: Collections, Possessions and Patronage of Charles I in the Light of the Commonwealth Sale Inventories. Arthur MacGregor, ed. (London and Oxford: Alistair McAlpine, with Oxford University Press,1989), pp. 216, 230n61, pl. 33.

Jaffé, David, et al. "The Earl and Countess of Arundel: Renaissance Collectors." Apollo 144, no. 413 (August 1996), pp. 26-28, pl. XI.

MacGregor, Arthur. "King Charles I: A Renaissance Collector?" In The Seventeenth Century 11, no. 2 (Autumn 1996), p. 143, pl. 1.

Haskell, Francis. L'Amateur d'Art. Pierre-Emmanuel Dauzat, trans. (Paris: Librairie Général Française,1997), pp. 185-86, fig. 79.

Simon, Robin. "Leonardo and Holbein (?)" Apollo 146,  no. 429 (November 1997), pp. 20-21.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 60, ill.

Szafran, Yvonne. "'Allegory of Horse and Rider': Holbein? A New Look at the Underdrawing." In La Peinture dans les Pays-Bas au 16e Siècle. Hélène Verougstraete and Roger van Schoute, eds. (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1999), pp. 293-302, ill.

Loisy, Jean de, ed. La Beauté, exh. cat. (Paris: Flammarion, 2000), pp. 38-39, ill.

Foister, Susan. Holbein and England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 107-8, fig. 115.

Foister, Susan. Holbein in England, exh. cat. (London: Tate, 2006), pp. 61, 176, no. 61, ill.

Foister, Susan. "Holbein, Antonio Toto, and the Market for Italian Painting in Early Tudor England." In The Anglo-Florentine Renaissance Art for the Early Tudors. Cinzia Maria Sicca and Louis A. Waldman, eds. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), pp. 288-90, fig. 111.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), pp. 208-9.