Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap

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

Date: 1532–35

Medium: Oil and gold on parchment, laid down on linden

Dimensions: Overall, with engaged frame, diameter 5 in. (12.7 cm); painted surface diameter 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950

Accession Number: 50.145.24


Holbein painted this small roundel about 1532–35, after his return to England. The young sitter can be identified as a court official, for he wears the livery of Henry VIII, with the initials H[R] for Henricus Rex embroidered in black on his red coat. The frame is original and the reverse is painted black and decorated with engraved circles. It is possible that the portrait, which is in excellent condition, originally had a protective painted lid. Such intimate portrait capsules were easily portable, as well as more affordable than larger-scale likenesses.