The book half open : humanist friendship in Holbein's portrait of Hermann von Wedigh III

  • 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.

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Author:Oren MargolisORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Openness in Medieval Europe / ed. by Manuele Gragnolati and Almut Suerbaum ; Cultural Inquiry ; 23
Publisher:ICI Press
Place of publication:Berlin
Document Type:Part of a Book
Date of Publication (online):2022/06/29
Year of first Publication:2022
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/07/06
Tag:Books in paintings; Classical reception; Northern Renaissance
GND Keyword:Holbein, Hans; Buch <Motiv>; Terentius Afer, Publius; Andria; Rezeption; Erasmus, Desiderius; Adagia; Freundschaft; Humanismus
Page Number:22
First Page:290
Last Page:310
Dewey Decimal Classification:7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 75 Malerei / 750 Malerei, Gemälde
8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft / ICI Berlin
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 4.0