Margaret More (1505–1544), Wife of William Roper

Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger (German, Augsburg 1497/98–1543 London)

Date: 1535–36

Medium: Vellum laid on playing card

Dimensions: Diameter 1 3/4 in. (45 mm)

Classification: Miniatures

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1950

Accession Number: 50.69.2


During his second visit to London in the 1530s, Holbein learned the art of miniature painting from Lucas Hornebolte (1490/95?–1544) of Ghent, one of the inventors of the genre, who was painting miniatures at Henry VIII's court as early as 1525. This portrait and its pendant, depicting Margaret's husband, William Roper (50.69.1), are among Holbein's earliest, and demonstrate the assurance with which the artist handled the new medium, adapting the convincing naturalism of his style in oils to minute depictions in watercolor and gouache. Margaret More, the eldest and favorite child of Sir Thomas More, was born in 1505, and the age assigned to her in Holbein's inscription indicates that this miniature was painted 1535–36, shortly after her father's execution.