American University
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Reinventing Donor Family Portraiture: Hans Holbein the Younger's Darmstadt Madonna

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:14 authored by Jennifer Wu

This thesis examines how Hans Holbein the Younger negotiated the genre of donor family portraiture in the Darmstadt Madonna (1526/1528) by creating a contemporary representation of the patron Jakob Meyer’s family. In early sixteenth-century Basel, reforms within the Catholic Church and the advent of Protestantism contested late medieval concepts of gender, kinship, and piety. I argue that the Darmstadt Madonna addressed this tumultuous context by partially reorienting the focus of traditional devotionally-themed paintings from the holy figures to the donor family. In this transitional work, Holbein offered an innovative and complex representation of the Meyer family members, their interconnections, and their relations with the depicted holy figures. The painting inventively satisfied Jakob Meyer’s ostensible objectives in representing his family’s exemplary devotional practices, his own paternal authority, and the Meyers’ procreative continuity through their daughter, Anna.



American University




Degree Awarded: M.A. Art. American University