Ambrosius Holbein

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Ambrosius Holbein (c. 1494 – c. 1519) was a German and Swiss artist in painting, drawing and printmaking.


He was the elder brother, by about three years, of Hans Holbein the Younger and like his brother was born in Augsburg (which today is in Bavaria, but then was a free imperial city), a center of art, culture and trade at that time. His father Hans Holbein the Elder was a pioneer and leader in the transformation of German art from the Gothic to the Renaissance style. In his studio both his sons, Ambrosius and Hans, received their first painting lessons as well as the an introduction to the crafts of the goldsmith, jeweller and printmaker.

In 1515 Ambrosius lived in the Swiss town of Stein am Rhein, where he helped a Schaffhausen painter named Thomas Schmid with the murals in the main hall of the St George monastery. The next year saw Ambrosius, as well as his brother Hans, in Basel, where he initially worked as a journeyman in Hans Herbster’s studio. In 1517 he was enrolled in a register of the Basel painters' guild and in 1518 he was naturalized as a citizen there.

The Portrait of a Boy with Blond Hair and its companion, the Portrait of a Boy with Brown Hair, are among Ambrosius’ best works of this period. Both are nowadays in the Basel Kunstmuseum.

Ambrosius Holbein ranks among the most important of Basel’s illustrators and prominent „small formats“ artists.


  • Virgin and Child, 1514, Basel, Kunstmuseum
  • Portrait of a Boy with Blond Hair, 1516, Basel, Kunstmuseum
  • Portrait of a Boy with Brown Hair, 1517, Basel, Kunstmuseum
  • Portrait of Jörg Schweiger, 1518, Basel, Kunstmuseum
  • Portrait of a Young Man, 1515, Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum
  • Nativity, 1514, Donaueschingen, Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Gemäldegalerie
  • Nativity, Munich, Klerikalseminar Georgianum
  • Repose of Mary, Munich, Klerikalseminar Georgianum
  • Portrait of Johannes Xylotectus (Zimmermann), 1520, Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum
  • Portrait of a Young Man, 1518, St Petersburg, Hermitage Museum
  • Portrait of a Young Man, 1518, (often accredited to Hans Holbein the Younger), Washington, National Gallery of Art
  • Repose of Mary, Vienna, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste

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