The Book Half Open: Humanist Friendship in Holbein’s Portrait of Hermann von Wedigh III

Margolis, Oren (2022) The Book Half Open: Humanist Friendship in Holbein’s Portrait of Hermann von Wedigh III. In: Openness in Medieval Europe. Cultural Inquiry. ICI Berlin Press, Berlin, pp. 289-310. ISBN 978-3-96558-031-2

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Abstract

A small, blind-tooled volume sits on a table covered in green baize: one clasp is open, the other is closed; and a slip of paper emerges from it reading Veritas odium parit (truth breeds hatred). This detail occurs in the foreground of a portrait by Hans Holbein of a young man identified as the Cologne patrician Hermann von Wedigh III (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). A study of the physical features of the book and of the history of the brief text — actually an ancient and then Erasmian adage — leads to a new interpretation of the painting in the context of humanist friendship. The book is seen to be a multivalent simile for the work of art authored by the artist as well as for the sitter himself, raising questions about the implications for these of a medium that can be opened and closed. The half-open condition of the book is understood to reflect the complementary pressures of openness and closedness, accessibility and intimacy, that characterized the Renaissance republic of letters.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: adages; books in paintings; classical reception; erasmus of rotterdam; hans holbein the younger; northern renaissance; terence
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2022 09:30
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2022 23:58
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/84693
DOI: 10.37050/ci-23_15

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