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Italian masters inspire a whole new generation of artists

A new exhibition shows how northern European artists have been influenced by the Italian masters but still remain very different in their own ways. Most of the drawing and paintings completed by Holbein are familiar to viewers, but now that people can see them in their newly cleaned condition they are simply stunning.

This painting has emerged from layers of varnish and grime and is a white plane that sits easily behind a darker figure. The man has a white shirt on with a white letter in his hands, a white paper, and a white quill. The entire picture combines to show a merchant standing in Thames Street at the Hansa Steelyard.

Another common theme that is easily recognisable from many French portraits during the 16th century features a sitter who has a volume of poetry from Petrarch in his hand. The narrowed eyes seem to be deeply engaged in something happening to the right of the painting.

Toss in the wide sensual lips and the long nose and there is a story behind the gazing man that is as deep as what was created by Memling. This time around the painting is by Jean Clouet, but it is just as stunning. Dated to be around the 1530s, it would be Jean’s son that soon made the next logical progression forward in painting.

Jean Clouet did a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots while she was officially the Queen of France and during her time of mourning after losing her husband when she was just 19. At the time she was still not very attractive, but you could say that of any ancient queen and it is likely that there was still quite a bit of competition for her hand.


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