100 Days of Art History Jinjins


Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling

This is one of the best known paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger, who became one of my favorite portraitists over the course of this project. The deep blue in the background of this looks amazing against the subtle textures of the skin, cloth, fur, and feathers. Every brushstroke, every color is precisely chosen and perfect. I saw this in person at the 2022 Holbein show at the Morgan Library and it's even more vibrant in person.

Her expression is very blank and wooden, but somehow she still reads as a full person to me. Maybe it's because how specific all of her features are. She also doesn't look particularly alluring or attractive--there's something objective and cool about the portrayal that matches her expression.

I had a lot of fun adding glasses to the squirrel and the starling in this. They seem to be there for symbolic value and allude to the sitter's family and where she lived.

Reference image is from Wikipedia. It is now in the National Gallery in London.

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