Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Question from Anonymous - Holbein tapestry designs

Are there any Holbein experts out there who are aware of any work created by Hobein for tapestries? I have a tapestry that has all the earmarks of a Holbein creation, except there is no recorded history to be found regarding such. Not even cartoons associated with tapestry, although he did work with textiles, jewelry, theartre sets, etc., why not tapestry? Henry VIII and Wolsey owned hundreds of tapestries, surely Holbein may have been involved.

[Ed. note- This came in the comments to another thread, but I thought it should be bumped up to a post of its own]


PhD Historian said...

I am certainly not a Holbein expert, but I have to imagine it possible that Holbein designs could have been adapted by weavers for tapestry purposes.

I think one of the problems in answering this question, however, may be that the designers of the pictorial content of tapestries are not always known ... and only a fraction of the tapestries produced during Holbein's lifetime survive. And I think I am correct in remembering that the better tapestries were produced outside of England, mostly in Flanders. Holbein lived in Basel, now part of Switzerland, and in England, neither of which were tapestry production centers. It is of course possible that Holbein drew a design and a Flanders tapestry works then produced it, but if so, none are known and none have survived.

I believe I am also correct in my impression that Henry VIII and Wolsey purchased most of their tapestries "ready-made" rather than specially commissioning them. I do know for certain that a limited number of subjects, mostly Biblical and mythological stories, were depicted on tapestries, and that they were often produced as related panel sets, kind of like a graphic novel. Purchased bought them ready-made based on the story they depicted, though certainly some were specially commissioned.

Anonymous said...

I certainly understand the difficulty in bringing to mind the possible exsistance of a Holbein tapestry, however I have found the same technique within the tapestry that one finds within Holbein's known orginal works. I believe the tapestry presents Anne and Mary Boleyn in a dance of celebration. They are somewhat distorted in apperance, as I believe the six wives are ambiguously included within the main image. It seems that Mary Boleyn is wearing the necklace with the letter "B" and one wonders if Holbein is annoucing the surviver. Both have their hands together, raised over head while holding a tudor rose in celebration, that at least one of them became Queen. I realize it would have been very unusual for an artist at this time to create such a telling cartoon, however the story is here, along with images of Wolsey,Erasmus, etc. If not Holbein, then someone intimate with history of the day and very intimate with Holbein's hidden layered perspective. There is a date 1541 found within the tapestry, along with the initial "H", although Holbein used the initials "HH" as his mark. I can only surmize that some other artist, quite familiar with Holbein's technique, created the tapestry as a salute to the "Old Master".

PhD Historian said...

Anon, do you have an image of that tapestry available, or a link to a website that has an image of it? It sounds very interesting.

kb said...

I too would be interested in seeing an image of this tapestry.

Anonymous said...

I do not feel that it would be appropriate at this time to share a picture of the tapestry, as only someone truly intimate with the artist's secrets may confirm the presence of the aritst. The problem one faces is that those that claim to be experts understand color, brush stroke, etc., but actually know very little regarding Holbein's true visual genius. Therefore, without historical evidence of Holbein's involvment in tapestry and a visual basis for comparison, I doubt I will ever have the hand of the great artist linked to the work. Obvioulsy, there is a great deal more to this story than meets the eye.

kb said...

I certainly understand your reluctance in publishing an image of the tapestry until you are confident. My interest is in the depiction of Mary Boleyn. I can offer no help in determining the authenticity of Holbein's involvement with the work.

From your description though it would seem that the artist was a supporter of the Boleyns. By 1541, the Boleyns were no longer in favour and only sibling still alive would have been Mary.

Are there any children depicted in the work?

Anonymous said...

KB, there are no children depicted within the work. In regard to the image of Mary Boleyn, one could say she very much favors the popular image of Catherine Howard, except for the hair color.

PhD Historian said...

It is odd to me, Anon, that you bring up the issue and ask for input and opinion, then get cagey when it comes to sharing the actual image. I do definitely understand not wanting to be "scooped" in a discovery, but how much input can we really offer without seeing the item in question?

For my part, I have to say that I think it exceedingly unlikely that Holbein was ever directly involved in the making of a tapestry. I do concede that he may have sketched designs (cartoons) for one or more, but that design would have been sent off to a manufactory and Holbein would not have been involved in the weaving process. Therefore, any "visual genius" would have been interpreted by the weavers and not the direct result of "the hand of the great artist."

Some further observations:

You say the tapetry is dated 1541. How can it possibly include all six of Henry VIII's wives when he wed one of those wives (Katherine Parr) after 1541?

No authentic Holbein design is likely to have included all six wives. Holbein died in late 1543, just months after Parr and Henry VIII were wed. There was probably insufficient time for Holbein to create a design-cartoon that included the sixth wife AND to get that design rendered as a tapestry under his supervision before his death.

It is also exceedinlgy unlikely that Henry VIII would have commissioned the production of a tapestry that included all six of his "wives," several of whom he later refused to recognize as legitimate wives. And with Mary and Elizabeth barred from the succession before 1544 (and thus until Holbein's death), Henry would have been loathe to have their claims to the throne bolstered through inclusion of their mothers in such a symbolic visual advertisement. And I cannot imagine any of Henry VIII's contemporaries having such a tapestry produced during Henry's lifetime lest he/she court official disfavor (and clearly Holbein pre-deceased Henry, so Holbein cannot have designed one after Henry's death).

Nor can I imagine anyone, least of all Henry, producing a tapestry that included Anne and Mary Boleyn together so promptly ... and also including Henry VIII's other six wives. Placing both Anne and Mary in positions of prominence emphasizes visually the single greatest impediment to Henry's marriage to Anne: his prior physical relationship with her sister Mary. It would have been foolhardy for anyone, including Henry and Hoblein, to bring that triangular relationship so prominently to the fore.

Continuing on KB's observation about the Boleyns being out favor in 1541, I have to say I seriously doubt that Mary Boleyn or any of her kin would have commissioned the tapestry, for the same reasons noted immediately above.

IF the tapestry's subject is indeed the Boleyn sisters and Henry VIII's other five wives, it must have been produced after Henry VIII's death, and thus after Holbein's death, without Holbein's involvement.

kb said...

I agree with phd historian that the dating is problematic. I am also a little concerned about women in full 16th century dress dancing with their arms overhead. The clothing didn't really allow lifting arms very much farther than shoulder height.

And again, the idea of the Boleyns publicly celebrating in 1541, or at any time post Anne's execution, is fairly hard to fathom.

As far as I can tell, Mary Boleyn Carey Stafford would not have entered into any scheme that, if discovered, would focus court intrigues or politics on herself. She was much too successful at keeping her and her children alive, employed and endowed to risk such actions.

Please let us know if you decide to make the image available.

kb said...

Anon -
If you are in England I suggest you contact Dr. Hearn at the National Gallery; if in the US you might consider the British Art Museum at Yale; if on the west coast you might want to contact the Huntingdon Library. Either would be able to ascertain fairly quickly if the tapestry is worth further investigation.

There are of course other experts who might be able to help you.

I agree with phd historian that the best tapestries of the day were Flemish and that the weavers were primarily responsible for interpreting the original drawings. If the bodies are distorted in the image you are looking at then it is probably not Flemish - or at least not of the first quality.

Additionally, while Holbein was a master, multi-layered meanings were the stock and trade of all painters of the time. Nearly every drawing of the day has signifiers and symbolic effects. Decoding them is part of the fun.

PhD Historian said...


You might also contact The Getty Art Insitute in LA, if you are on the west coast. They have exceptional resources for assessing all kinds of works of art.

Regarding the distortion of the figures: It dawns on me afer reading one of KB's posts that the distortion may have had nothing to do with Holbein's well-known fondness for visual puzzles (his portraits of "The Ambassadors" or of Edward VI, for example). Other artists used distortion for a very specific effect.

Michelangelo's massive, larger-than-life "David," for example, appears quite distored if one looks at it while standing anywhere other than ground level. Michelangelo understood the issue of perspective so well that he adjusted his sculpting to create an ideal figure only when viewed from the ground below.

I have also seen the technique used in tapestries, especially very large ones intended to be hung in palatial rooms. Most larger tapestries (20 feet wide and more) were intended to be viewed from below, so that when one views them "straight-on," the figures can appear distorted.

So the distortion you are observing may be dependent on your viewing angle, the overall size of the tapestry, whether it is currently hung in the appropriate sized room or instead dismounted, and whether you are viewing a photograph (which tend to be taken straight-on) or the actual item.

kb said...

good point phd historian.
I had forgotten about the perspective bit and just assumed that anon was commenting on a general distortion.

Anonymous said...

The last few years of Holbein's life were not even spent in England. After he painted Annaof Cleves, he was found to be out of favor with the Court because of the disaster of the marriage. He is not likely to have done the tapestry.

PhD Historian said...

Anon #2:
Holbein's "last few years" were indeed spent in England.

He painted a miniature of Jane Pemberton in ca 1540.

He painted the miniatures of the Brandon boys in ca 1541 in England.

The miniature often identified as a portrait of Katherine Howard is dated to 1541.

In 1543, he painted the famous distorted portrait of Edward VI now on display at the NPG.

He painted the portrait of Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey) sometime between 1541 and 1543.

He painted John Chambers (Bishop of Peterborough) and Sir William and Lady Margaret Butts in 1543.

"Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons" is attributed to Holbein and dated to 1543.

He designed jewelry and other objects for English patrons in 1542-43, including the famous clock-salt for Anthony Denny.

He died in London in late 1543.

But I do agree that he is unlikely to have been involved in the tapestry that Anon #1 describes.

Marilyn R said...

I went to the Holbein In England exhibition at Tate Britain in 2006, when many of the most famous of his paintings and designs for prints were brought together from home and abroad, and I do not recall anything connected with tapestries. I shall be at the National Gallery and the NPG in a couple of weeks' time - if there's an opportunity I'll enquire about Holbein and tapestries.

Anonymous said...

PHD Historian,

The possiblity that weavers of the day cracked Holbein's visual formulas and were capable of intrepeting as much within fiber was quite impossible. Holbein risked his life on a daily basis that no one was capable of doing so and was correct in that belief for hundreds of years. I would beg to differ the date of Holbein's death, as I believe the death of the great artist from the plague was a "ruse", allowing for his escape. History has suggested that Holbein was attended by close friends, while on his death bed. We know today that no "friend" would have attended anyone dying of the plague,just for the writing of a will, as it would have been a suicidal mission. As there were thousands of people dying and being burned, who would have questioned the death of Holbein at this time or even cared. Certainly, not members of the court who were fleeing in droves to escape the "black" death. As Holbein had risked his life daily, I believe Henry VIII finally caught up to the great artist's adventures and the only way out was the death ploy. As one knows, Holbein's burial place has been suggested in more than one location and some claim there is no known burial location and Holbein may even have died after 1550. It is difficult to believe that Holbein himself created the 16"X18" woven picture, however he did possess the necessary skills, as he created designs in textile that required identical skill. No matter the identity of the artist, he was intimate with Holbein's feelings, as there is more than one image of Anne Boleyn, mouth open in a "scream of horrow" found hidden within the work. Holbein was quite shaken with the execution of so many who were important to him and I believe he chose to show those feelings by creating hidden images of Boleyn and Howard, with mouths wide open in screams of horror; not only within this work, but other work within which I have found the same. There are many reasons one may find that suggest it was impossible for Holbein to have created the work, many of which you have kindly presented. There are other parts of the work, unknown to you, that would also suggest Holbein could not have been present, however, how does one explain the "B" necklace, the initial "H". the date 1541, hidden images of Wolsey, Erasmus, etc., and Holbein's feelings regarding the Boleyns, known to only a select few. The absurd part of the scenario is that I cracked Holbein's visual formula years ago and the first image I accidently found hidden within the "woven" picture, years later, was that of the horrified Anne Boleyn. The work has been within the family for over 80 years, hanging on my living room wall for 30 of those years. I must have gazed at the work hundreds of times through the years and not until the hidden image of the horrified Boleyn popped up, did I begin to examine the work more closely. If Holbein was actually involved, the only rational conclusion one may suggest is that Holbein did the work for his own amusement. If this is so, I believe the work may have been an emotional "relief valve" for the great artist who was under immense pressure. If I were to share all that I know regarding the artist, I would be "scooped" as you say. all I am seeking is any historical documented evidence suggesting Holbein's involvement with the creation of "woven" pictures. If not Holbein, the genius who created the work certainly had no reason to hide behind that of Holbein.

Anonymous said...

PhD Historian,

If one gave any thought to the date of Holbein's death presented earlier, one undoubedtly did further research regarding same.

The conclusion one may arrive at, is that Holbein indeed was responsible for the work attributal to Scrots. If one examines the work, the Edward VI portrait and the anamorphic, one quickly comes to the realization that only Holbein could have created the work. Not to in anyway lessen the talent of Scrots, he was not in Holbein's league. From one who knows Holbein's hidden sigature, be assured the work belongs to Holbein. The work further proves the great master was alive and well after 1543.

Hope Walker said...

To briefly jump in here. I am a Ph.D. candidate in London and my area of research is Tudor portraiture. So, I feel at least slightly qualified to offer a few brief comments.

The best resource for Tudor tapestries is Thomas Campbell's 'Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty' (Yale University Press, 2007). Most tapestry of the period was designed and woven in the Netherlands. (Dr. Campbell is presently the Director of the MET in NYC and if I had a tapestry of the period I was curious about, I would contact him first.)

This, however, does not mean that Holbein would not have been familiar with tapestries. He certainly would have seen much of it in Henry's court and, although he was a court artist, he would still have been seen within the context of craftsman and associated with the same.

Susan Foister's 'Holbein in England' (Yale University Press,
2004) is a very good text for details regarding his life in England.

To address a few comments:

"There is a date 1541 found within the tapestry, along with the initial "H", although Holbein used the initials "HH" as his mark."

Actually, his autograph is most commonly 'HF' for Holbein Fecit.

"I do not feel that it would be appropriate at this time to share a picture of the tapestry, as only someone truly intimate with the artist's secrets may confirm the presence of the aritst."

There are a handful of Holbein experts out there. I would recommend that you send an image to Susan Foister at the National Gallery in London. To suggest, however, as you go on to do, that someone who is familiar with line, brushstroke, color (et cetera) would not be familiar with a design created by Holbein is not accurate and, in my view, pretty narrow-minded. Scholars who study these artists are intimately familiar with them. They dedicate their lives to them and are familiar with everything to do with them, not just line and color. You may have been looking at this tapestry since you were very young, but they have been looking at Holbein's entire body of work for at least as long, if not longer. Thus, I would not so easily discredit them, were I you.

And, as an aside, although I cannot recall the website at the moment, I have seen several ads in The Art Newspaper for a website that makes claims about several works of art that are very similar to your own. The writer of those paid ads claims to have discovered all sorts of mysterious secret images within pictures which have been rejected by art historians....

Dr. Karen Hearn, by the way, is at Tate Britain, not the National Gallery. She would certainly be another scholar I would get in touch with regarding this tapestry.

"Holbein risked his life on a daily basis that no one was capable of doing so and was correct in that belief for hundreds of years. I would beg to differ the date of Holbein's death, as I believe the death of the great artist from the plague was a "ruse", allowing for his escape. History has suggested that Holbein was attended by close friends, while on his death bed. We know today that no "friend" would have attended anyone dying of the plague,just for the writing of a will, as it would have been a suicidal mission."

I am not clear why you believe "Holbein risked his life." How did he do that and why would he have done so? Where was he escaping to and why? He became a denizen of England not long before his death. That certainly is not the actions of someone attempting to 'escape.'

Van Mander is the one who tells us Holbein died of the plague, which is most probably a hunch given how rampant it was in London and environs during the time. Derek Wilson makes an interesting (unsupported) arguement that he died of an infection (see Derek Wilson's 'Hans Holbein, Portrait of a Man, Pimlico, 2006, pp. 276-ff for a brief discussion and a copy of Holbein's will). It seems that you have read Wilson's book since some of your facts seem to reference his book...

In fact, it was perfectly normal that Holbein's grave was not found. I am studying another artist from the period and I have no earthly idea where he was buried. I have conducted extensive research (out of sheer curiosity), looking at primary source materials and the records simply do not exist. That should not be considered evidence of some grand conspiracy. It is simply the reality of working on individuals who lived almost 500 years ago in a large city that, since that time, has gone through a massive fire and several wars.

"It is difficult to believe that Holbein himself created the 16"X18" woven picture, however he did possess the necessary skills, as he created designs in textile that required identical skill."

Actually, I doubt he would have the 'necessary skills' to create a textile. Drawing and painting (even if one is trained as a goldsmith) is certainly not the same thing as weaving. At all. Also, you have yet to produce any evidence that Holbein was at all involved in such designs. I am not suggesting that he did not. He did design other objects--a great many of them as others have pointed out--but this does not mean that he was intimately involved in the manufacture of tapestry in Tudor London.

"The conclusion one may arrive at, is that Holbein indeed was responsible for the work attributal to Scrots. If one examines the work, the Edward VI portrait and the anamorphic, one quickly comes to the realization that only Holbein could have created the work. Not to in anyway lessen the talent of Scrots, he was not in Holbein's league. From one who knows Holbein's hidden sigature, be assured the work belongs to Holbein. The work further proves the great master was alive and well after 1543."

I'm afraid that you are going to have to share evidence of Holbein's "hidden sigature" before I am going to believe that one exists. Further, in simply looking at NPG 1299 (Anamorphic of Edward VI) one can clearly see it is not a Holbein. Nothing in the technique or the motif suggests this at all. In fact, the anamorphic's background suggests an artist with French connections working in a mannerist style, which is entirely correct for Scrots, not Holbein. Further, Scrots was Edward VI official court painter and the picture certainly has all of the vibrancy of his other known works.

Hope Walker

kb said...

Way to go Hope!

Thanks for catching that Karen Hearn is at the Tate Britain. I couldn't find her card when I wrote that.

Good luck with your research. (I'm awaiting my viva in April.)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said,

Ms Walker, thank you kindly for your very astute comments, many of which are just as correct as the beliefs being responded to. You have taken the correct path in defending many facts and I appreciate ones time, however there are a few Holbein secrets that I believe have escaped discovery for hundreds of years and I have had the pleasure of "accidently" learning those secrets, which were revealed only after thousands upon thousands of hours in observation. If one is familiar with neuroplasticity, one is aware that ones mind may learn to recognize layers of hidden perspective and in my case one layer at a time, even though that was not the objective. However, as slow as the process was, I did learn the above mentioned secrets.
There is little doubt, that Holbein was an "anamorphic" genius with spatial integration skills that remain ahead of its time today. I could really expand the scenario, however much of the story I will not share, as it would only cause one more concern. Be that as it may, I challanged the art world with very little ammunition, other than the fact that I knew, beyond question, the great artist's visual formulas and only assumed that everyone else of authority knew them as well. Of course I was not about to share those secrets, in sending examples of the work, thinking the experts would see as much and immdediately want to know how, when, where and why I came by the work. My saving grace, in regard to my sanity, was the fact that I could unlock the visual formuals within all of the great master's work and again thought the experts could as well. To my astonishiment, they saw no formulas, knew nothing of the formulas and only wanted to share the fact that Holbein had absolutely nothing to do with the work. Of course I eventually realized these experts were not aware and I might be one of few, if any, who was. If one were to view the tapestry, one would also come to the same conclusion, "no way could Holbein have created the work", unless of course one was intimate with Holbein's visual formulas and then one would truly have the monumental task of explaining how "so". Of course I have spent the past seven years studying Holbein, learning absolutely as much as there is to know about the great artist. The sobering proof is that the great artist intended for no one, other than the other great artists of the day, to solve his visual formuals and I believe that he was correct in that belief, until I stumbled along. I of course realize the absurdity of the statement, however I have learned through the process of trial and error, that it is correct. I will say that the first "artist" to truly uncover the great master's formulas may have been Rubens. As I now have mastered the plasticity learning curve, it is quite easy to look back at those artists that I believe Holbein may have learned from. Holbein's feeling regarding Boleyn may be found in many of his known original works. Yes, I have communicated with Wilson, however the idea was original and Wilson said that he had not speculated upon the scenario that I shared. I have yet to read the book, however it is on my list. In regard to where and why Holbein was running is purely speculation on my part, however I have found enough "visual" evidence to suggest that he was involved in "business" that would have been the end. Surely there is someone out there who knows as much as I, regarding the "Old Master's" visual formuals. Of course, in many visual presentations, ones mind may only find certain objects when told of their existence. I believe this may be one of those times and hopefully I have shared enough information to put one on the right track. Of course one may look forward in time and find those artists who have tried to match Holbein. Rubens, van Dyke and Rembrandt understood and the list goes on and on. Even some present day artists are close, however I know of no artists who put their lives on the line, as proof of their genius, although maybe that is one of the reasons Holbein was on the run. History tells us that Holbein was quite busy before and after his seemingly death, so I doubt that he was a derlict roaming the city. One may observe portraits of Parr and Elisabeth I and find the hand of the great master. Of course that only brings more speculation, as to who the great man really was.

Hope Walker said...

"Ms Walker, thank you kindly for your very astute comments, many of which are just as correct as the beliefs being responded to."

You are welcome. Still, what I have written to you is based upon scholarship and primary source material. What you have written is based upon conjecture and an, as yet, unproduced tapestry.

The purpose and point of publishing ones research is to contribute to the scholarship so that ones ideas can be subjected to ones peers and so that the data one does discover (rediscover/uncover/reframe) will help furture research. What you have responded to me with is a long paragraph full of conjecture and commentary. You provide no facts, no examples, no photographic proof to support your point of view. And, I might add (again), much of what you have written has been demonstrated here (via citations) to be incorrect.

At the end of the day this conversation isn't going to move forward until you produce some proof of what you are writing about. Good scholarship stands up to the gaze of other scholars. It does not hide itself under the guise of mystery or a suppossed lack of knowledge on the part of the viewer.

Further, you certainly do not have to show me or anyone else posting here. I have given you the names of several individuals who are verifiable Holbein and/or tapestry experts who would be wonderful resources for you to communicate with in order to start a discussion. If you want to be taken seriously and if you actually do care about what you suggest you have discovered, I believe you should start there.

Finally, the mysterious is indeed an interesting body of work in Medieval and Renaissance/Early Modern studies. However, in my opinion it would be wrong to think of any art of the period as having a secret that only a select few can come to understand. There are only a handful of pictures I can think of that have such a reputation and that is not because they were necessarily created to hide something (although this is sometimes the case, the picture always provides the viewer with the clues to 'read' the image), only that the references that they make most certainly are personal (ie for the patron-viewer) or the source(s) they draw from have vanished over the course of time. In such cases, there is still a large (and ever-growing) body of scholarship that looks at these works from a variety of perspectives in order to come to a greater understanding of their (for lack of a better word) message. And, if you are suggesting that your tapestry contains such a message, you would serve the work best, in my opinion, by exposing it to some Holbein and tapestry experts rather than holding it captive and declaring that you and you alone can understand or 'read' it.

- Hope Walker

Anonymous said...

Ms. Walker,

Thank you for your comments, as I agree with most every comment one has taken the time to share. I do accept your challange and I will post a portion of the tapestry, that contains the hidden image of Henry VIII and will teach one how to find the image. I will also expand the story a little further, as I have the knowledge of knowing I am absolutley correct regarding the Holbein Technique used within the tapestry. I discovred last week the signature of the aritst within the work, that proves without doubt, the great artist was present. I will post the work later in the week.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Walker,

Having given more thought to ones comments, there are a few that remain to be made on my behalf. In regard to ones comment that I am holding the tapestry captive is quiet incorrect. If one has read the posted commentary carefully, one would have noted that I have subjected the tapestry to review by the great fiber experts, beginning with the most famous and not leaving a stone unturned, regarding those next in line.

I also subjected the work to all of the world’s known Holbein experts and the dilemma one faces, if the known Holbein experts can not read Holbein within his know original work, which has been observed by the experts on a daily basis for hundreds of years, how could one possibly expect a “tapestry” expert to find Holbein within a “fibered” piece.

Just as the painting expert understands color, brush stroke, canvas material, etc, so does the fiber expert understand weave pattern, motif, fiber materials, etc., challenge either to the task of unlocking visual formulas and they revert to the things they understand.

Of course that is perfectly normal, after all, what else is there?

I could display the tapestry within a room filled with countless Holbein and tapestry experts and 99.9% would give all the reasons why Holbein had absolutely nothing to do with the work.

As an example, again if one reads the posted commentary carefully, one will note that I was only seeking someone who may have been aware of Holbein’s involvement in “weaving”.

Review the responses and one finds that the majority of responses are strongly related to how Holbein could not possibly have been directly involved in the creation of the tapestry, and that is not the help I asked for, nor was I seeking, although I greatly appreciate the time taken and given to those comments.

Why is it, that those schooled in art are so afraid of new discovery?

I have run the gauntlet and surely I not seeking further rejection.

Try to imagine the discovery and how one may proceed with the sharing of the wonderful news with those in authority, only to be beaten down at every turn by those who should have been seeking reasons of confirmation, as opposed to those who are insulted when exposed to the absurd.

I came to the realization years ago, that if I were to be successful in confirming the presence of the artist within the tapestry, I would need to teach someone how to read the “great master”. Quite an absurd comment, I do not enjoy making, however what recourse does one have.

One may also find, that I mentioned on more than one occasion, there is more to the story than I obviously have shared. One may recall, if one is interested, I solved Holbein’s visual formulas years before I discovered the technique within the tapestry.

As I now observe the tapestry many times each day, I continue to find hidden images of famous people known to Hobein.

I may add, that each time I study the artist’s known work, the same results occur.

I did not suddenly solve the visual maze overnight, and in fact only learned few pieces of the puzzle at a time, over a period of many months, and eventually years, while trying to identify the artist responsible for the work.

There is another story to be told that I will not bore one with, only that I began the discovery of Hobein’s technique while observing the other work.

Spending thousands upon thousands of hours in trying to identify the artist responsible for the work, I slowly evolved through the visual learning process and eventually came to the realization, that what I was visually experiencing was more scientific, than artistic, and began sharing the visual experience with the scientific world.

Of course the same result was achieved. As I shared earlier, the reading of Holbein is a visual learning process, otherwise we would not be posting these comments. Anyone, truly capable of reading Holbein, would have done so by now and more importantly, would have asked what the problem is?

Were I truly to share, as you suggest, Holbein’s secrets and technique, I would only be subjected to a further running of the gauntlet, which is interesting, but I have been there, done that.

In retrospect, I believe it may be best if I forward a copy of the described portion of the tapestry directly to you. One may contact the web keeper for my personal email address and forward ones own email address, or I would be perfectly willing to forward the image directly to the web keeper and have it passed along, if you prefer.

A little clue in understanding the technique, if one is familiar with the work of “George Deem” and the technique used within his work, one has a start in finding Henry VIII.

If one gives further thought to ones comments, and if one were in a similar position, no doubt one would be sharing the story within a well written book on the secrets of Holbein, as well as those artists with whom Holbein competed with, in regard to the “magic” of anamorphic creation.

I, of course, will write the book, as I have been keeping notes for years, however I do need to find someone who knows as much as I, for collaboration purposes; however that person has yet to materialize.

As I alluded to earlier, in my opinion, the visual learning process is related to the maturity of ones “spatial integration” skills and also to ones “Neuroplasticity” learning curve, which actually may be the same.

Many experts have the spatial integration skills of probing deeply within an artist’s perspective, however, Holbein has a few “visual gears” yet to be learned.

Having shared the above, please keep in mind that I believe the tapestry to be a “ruse” created by Holbein for his own amusement, and the artist was careful enough not to leave “surface” visual clues that would have cost him his head! He was very careful in not allowing any image of Henry VIII to be easily exposed, thus the difficulty in uncovering the image. If one truly can read Holbein, one immediately understands the visual genius employed by the artist within all of his work, and one will immediately find Henry VIII, as well as many other images of famous people of the day, hidden within.

Of special note, is the very large image of Wolsey, which one may find staring back at one. Holbein was a “trickster” and enjoyed playing visual games with his intellectual peers, especially Erasmus, who may also be found, more than once, within the tapestry.

As I have also stated earlier, the artist was confident enough with his “genius” that he included “life-like” images of Henry VIII within the work, knowing the price he would pay for discovery. One may find this courage and confidence within all of the “Old Master’s” known original works.

One may need to expand the tapestry piece to a proper size, for purposes of observation.

Please keep in mind, this portion of the tapestry is only part of a wall, positioned behind and to the left of the images of Anne and Mary Boleyn. One may find the very large initials “HH”, if one observes carefully, and the date 1541. Of course I do not expect anyone to find as much, however the initials and date are there.

Another clue that may be helpful; I would suggest casually observing the work for fifteen minutes before trying to extract an image. If one observes the work in one minute intervals, slowly moving ones eyes back and forth across the work many times, the images may eventually begin to appear. Remember, for some this is a learning process. Images may not begin to appear until one has repeated the process many times over a period of many days.

The mistake most observers make, when at first not finding an image, is the immediate dismissal of the work. This is what the artist depends upon for secrecy. If one will gaze directly down and within the work, over and over again, eventually ones mind learns the visual clues necessary for the construction of the images hidden within. The main clue ones mind first seeks are the eyes. Match any two objects that can be eyes and ones mind will construct the face the artist intended.

Please remember the artist did not intend that the casual observer find the hidden images, and, in this case, risked his life.

One may find much ambiguity, anamorphic creation, and for those intimate with the work of Holbein, great reward. One may note, that having found the first image, each time one revisits the work, one may find new images not seen before, large and small.

If after two weeks of observation, if one has yet to find the hidden images, and especially that of Henry VIII, please let me know and I will be more than happy in assisting one in discovery.

The sad part of the commentary is the fact, that regardless of who uncovers the images, there will be a thousand reasons, as to why the images were not created by Holbein.

The only request that I make, in addition to not sharing the images with anyone else, is that the results of you final review and conclusion be posted here for those who have an interest.


Lara said...

Hope, if you see this, could you send me an email? I thought I had an email address for you, but now I can't find it. Thanks!

kb said...

Anon -

Thank you for sharing some small snippets of your research on your tapestry. I must say that I think your perspective on the piece is unique. Even with your latest clue, I do not see the work in the same light you do.

Unfortunately, my own research is taking me in another direction leaving me little time for Holbein.

I will await your own analysis i.e. your "book" or other publication on the subject.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the gracious response, as it is not easy responding to a scenario, in which there is room for considerable doubt regarding the writer’s sanity.

The “work” has to prove to me every day that it was created by the great artist, and each time, I study the work, the same questions are answered, leaving little doubt, as to the identity of the artist.

As I have studied the work many times each week, for many years, I am never satisfied with the any clue, proof, new discovery, etc.

The scenario becomes even more difficult when one can not find a living “soul” who can confirm that what I am seeing is correct.

I am referring to the technique to be found within the tapestry, as well as within the artist’s known original works.

I am humbled each and every time I study this work or any other work created by the artist.

It seems impossible, that the artist could have created his “magic” within paint, however, when one finds the same exact “magic” within a tapestry, one is truly humbled by the “genius” of the artist, as he actually has “painted” a tapestry with thread, employing the same multi-dimensional layers of perspective.

Again, thank you for your kind response and I appreciate the time you have given, regarding the scenario.

Should you have any spare time in the future, learn to “read” Holbein’s “woodcuts” and I will forward a copy of the tapestry for ones enjoyment.


Anonymous said...

I am an avid collector of 16th century art, including tapestries, of which I have 3, one of which has the initials HH, you may contact me at if you are interested in viewing images of the tapestries.