Art: Clear Eye, Flawless Touch

In New York, the unsurpassed portrait drawings of Holbein

That Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) was one of the supreme portrait painters has never been in doubt. Anyone who has been to the National Gallery in London and seen his painting of The Ambassadors — two wary young traders amid their pellucid clutter of emblematic objects, with an anamorphic blur of a skull floating strangely across the inlaid floor —knows that at once. Together with his older contemporary, Albrecht Dürer, Hol bein represents the point at which German painting shook clear of its Gothic...

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