Portrait of a Canon
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Close to the style of Hans Holbein the Younger
Swiss, Basel, about 1520
Pot-metal and clear glass, brown and black vitreous paint, and silver stain

24 x 20 1/2 x 3/8 in.

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An open book, fancy robe, and heavy fur coat suggest that this man, shown kneeling in an abbey, held an elevated status in society. Although his identity is not known, he was probably a member of the abbey's order. A sash cord hangs near the canon's face, drawing attention to his ornate architectural surroundings. A sea god and goddess--symbols of classical learning--celebrate the importance of ancient mythology during the Renaissance. The canon depicted here may have commissioned this glass panel, perhaps inserted in a clear glass window in the abbey, as a form of immortalization.

There are no known surviving stained-glass portraits attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger, who, as a young artist active in Switzerland, often designed stained glass. The subject's intense facial features show intellectual acuity, consistent with Holbein's portraits in oil paint.