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An Allegory of Passion
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Hans Holbein the Younger
German, about 1532 - 1536
Oil on panel

17 7/8 x 17 7/8 in.
80.PB.72

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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.

Detail Views

Underdrawings in leg
Underdrawings in leg


Technical Views

Underdrawings in whole figure
Underdrawings in whole figure