Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

The Torquetum - Painting



Ambassadors painting

The Ambassadors
Hans Holbein the Younger
National Gallery, London
image via Wikimedia Commons
This major work by Holbein has been the subject of extensive interpretation and debate. In addition to the double portrait and meticulously rendered still life objects, it has a large anamorphic skull in the bottom foreground. Note the prominently displayed torquetum to the left on the top shelf. The objects imply significant intellectual status for the subjects. The arrangement, with celestial instruments/models at the top, terrestrial in the middle and a skull (death) below may also be of specific symbolic value. Additional information is available on the web from Wikipedia,; The National Gallery,; and others.

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© R. Paselk 2015 16 February