Hans Holbein and the Ambassador’s Secret

Brian Healey
Monday, 28 June 2021 - 6:30pm


The double portrait identified only in the last century as two ambassadors to the court of Henry Vlll at the time of his “Great Matter” – his divorce from Katherine of Aragon - and which hangs in the National Gallery, is a painting that has been subject to much interpretation and research. Most notably in the early twentieth century by Mary Hervey; and more controversially in recent years by John North.

Brian Healey’s lecture will look closely at the possible significance of the painting’s many details and the relevance they may have to the political background that was threatening to destabilize the then known world. What was for centuries interpreted by many as just a double portrait conceived as an elaborate memento mori is now known to have been much more. It was executed almost certainly with the collaboration of the King’s astronomer, Nicholas Kratzer.

The full title of the painting is ‘Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (The Ambassadors)’. Painted in 1533, it was acquired by the National Gallery 1890.


About the speaker

A senior modern languages teacher in an independent grammar school for many years, Brian has also enjoyed a successful parallel career since the 1980's as a professional artist and interior designer. Since 2006 he has been regularly appointed to a number of prestigious ocean and river cruise lines, either as resident artist, guest lecturer on art history or as destination speaker for more than forty countries.

Most recently this work has successfully extended to art guiding through important towns and museums in France, Belgium, Holland and Spain.

Last, but by no means least, as a fully accredited lecturer for the Arts Society he has a busy schedule both at home and abroad lecturing on a variety of topics relating to art and architecture.



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Event image: ‘The Ambassadors’ by Hans Holbein the Younger – Google Art Project