Arts & Culture


The Merchant Georg Gisze

Hans Holbein the Younger1532

Gemäldegalerie, National Museums in Berlin
Gemäldegalerie, National Museums in Berlin

The portrait shows the Hanseatic merchant from Gdańsk, Georg Gisze (1497-1562), at age 34, sitting behind a writing table in a corner of his London office, surrounded by numerous objects that identify his rank. On the table in front of him are his writing implements and a gold time-piece, and also a glass vase with carnations, sprigs of rosemary, basil and wallflowers. The vase and flowers are symbolic of the subject's qualities: his unwavering love, faithfulness, purity and modesty. The clock is a reminder of the passage of time and the fading flowers indicate the brevity of life, while the fragility of the glass indicates that even the most beautiful things in life do not last for ever. In 1532, the year the portrait was painted, Georg Gisze was one of the leading men in the London Stalhof, one of the Hanseatic League's most powerful trade bases.

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  • Title: The Merchant Georg Gisze
  • Creator: Hans Holbein the Younger
  • Date: 1532
  • Style: German
  • Rights: Text: © <a href="">Prestel Verlag</a> / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Rainald Grosshans Audio: © <a href="">Tonwelt</a> / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz Photo: © <a href="">b p k - Photo Agency</a> / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Physical Dimensions: w85.7 x h97.5 cm
  • Artist information: As the son of Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger learned his skills in his father's workshop in Augsburg. He spent most of his formative years working in Basel as a painter of murals and religious works, as well as a designer of glass windows and book illustrator. He also turned his hand to portraits, discovering the major gift that later led to his fame. Although several of his portraits have become cultural icons, he was also greatly praised in his day for his 'Solothurn Madonna' (1522) and 'Darmstadt Madonna' (1525/26). His style was characterized by the late Gothic but was gradually influenced and enriched by artistic trends in Italy, France, England and the Netherlands, as well as by Renaissance humanism. He adopted and spread many techniques, including the Italian single-point perspective or the method of limning.
  • Provenance: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on oak wood

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