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In the renaissance style, painters use techniques to create perspective and portray space.They gave huge importance to colour, the detail of fabrics and objects.To search for balance and proportion, painters studied and carefully arranged the elements of a scene to guide de observer.Renaissance portraits often included objects such a musical instruments, coins, books or flowers, enriching the portrayal of the sitter by alluding to their hobbies, intellect, culture, marital status or religious fervour.The wealthy bourgeois , nobility and upper clergy commissioned many work of art to decorate their homes. Portraits were very popular.

Artisitic characteristics

This image shows Jean de Dinteville, the man on the left, is shown on his second diplomatic mission to England on behalf of Francis I, King of France. To the right is his close friend, Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur.The table also offers space to display a wide range of objects. Renaissance portraits often included objects such a musical instruments, coins, books or flowers, enriching the portrayal of the sitter by alluding to their hobbies, intellect, culture, marital status or religious fervour.


Dinteville, one of Francis’s most trusted courtiers, attended the wedding on the King’s behalf. Dinteville was required to stay in London for Anne’s coronation in June and for the birth of Henry and Anne’s daughter Elizabeth I in September (Francis was her godfather). This was his second diplomatic mission to England and he would visit the country more times passing on messages between the two monarchs.The man to the right is his close friend Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur. He was also on a diplomatic mission.

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This portrait was painted (1533 ) at a time of religious upheaval in Europe. Although the pope had refused to annul Henry VIII, King of England’s marriage to Catalina of Aragon which resulted in a break with the Roman Catholic Church, in 1533 he married Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII bypassed papal authority by doing so, establishing the Church of England as independent from Rome and placing himself at its head.The break of religious and political ties with Catholic Europe was worrying for Francis I, King of France. The man on the left is his ambassador Jean de Dinteville, whom he had tasked to report back to him on the situation.

Context / Relation with its society I

French monarchy , like Spanish, Portuguese, English and Russia monarchies were authoritarian monarchies.In the late 15th century, a new political model emerged in some parts of Europe: the authoritarian monarchy. This is a political system in which the monarchs accumulated greater political, legislative and judicial power.

The most powerful monarchies were the Spanish monarchy and the Portuguese monarchy. The powerful authoritarian monarchies fought for control of the smaller Italian and German states.In 1469 Isabel of Castilla married Fernando, the prince of Aragón. After the Second Castilian civil War, in 1479, Isabel became queen of Castilla and Fernando became king of Aragón. This resulted in the dynastic union of Castilla and Aragón, but not the creation of a unitary state. Each kingdom conserved its own institutions, laws, language, currency and boundaries. This union is called the Hispanic Monarchy.

Context / Relation with its society II

The Catholic Monarchs’ main objectives were to isolate France, strengthen the Crown of Aragon in the Mediterranean and expand across the Atlantic (Castilla). Therefore, they created a diplomatic corps with permanent embassies at foreign courts. An embassy is a group of officials that represent their kingdom in another kingdom. Historically, France and Aragón were enemies. They fought for the control of the Italian Peninsula and the Pyrenees.

To weaken and islotale France, the Catholic Monarchs arranged marriage unions between their children and the monarchs and heirs of England and Portugal, as well as with the Hapsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire, who governed Austria and Burgundy.To isolate France to the north, their daughter Catalina of Aragon was married, first to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and when he died, she was married to Henry VIII. The Catholic Monarchs needed to modernize the royal government so that they could control their kingdoms. In addition, it was very expensive to maintain the government and the army.The monarchs gave the royal treasury greater powers to administer tax collection.

Context / Relation with its society III

The Catholic Monarchs appointed councils of experts to advise them. These mainly consisted of members of the nobility and the educated bourgeoisie.To guarantee public order, the monarchs reorganized the judicial system in Castilla through the audiencias, which appointed the judges of the courts of the kingdom. They also created a militia called the Santa Hermandad, whose role was to fight crime and provide security along routes and in rural Castilla.To reduce the autonomy of their kingdoms, the monarchs limited the power of the different Cortes. They did this by summoning them on increasingly fewer occasions. In addition, the monarchs appointed a viceroy in each kingdom to represent them in their absence. The monarchs also relied on the Inquisition, which they controlled and gave it jurisdiction throughout their lands.

To limit the power of the urban oligarchies the monarchs appointed corregidores to supervise the Castilian city councils In Aragón, however, they continued to select local offcials through a lottery system. The reforms were more forcefully implemented in Castilla, which became and authoritarian monarchy. Aragón, on the other hand, maintained the medieval pact tradition. This was a system in which the monarch made decisions with the agreement of other institutions. During the 16th century the European population grew thanks to fewer wars, increased agricultural production and economic prosperity, which led to a decrease in the number of epidemics.

Context / Relation with its society IV

The increase in agricultural production, craftwork and trade made wealth and income from taxation rise. This had significant political consequences. Monarchs now had more resources available to them, so they became more powerful and were able to implement reforms. The monarchs’ main objectives were to increase their power, limit the power of the nobility, administer their kingdom’s resources more efficiently and maintain a strong position in relation with other monarchs.

This allowed them to control their kingdoms, including the nobility’s lands, and collect taxes more efficiently. The centre of royal government was the court, which the monarchs established permanently in the capitals of new states.Royal army - Monarchs established permanent armies of mercenaries, who they paid with the taxes they collected. This meant they were no longer dependent on the nobles for military aid. In addition, they could also subdue the nobles when they rebelled against their reforms. They also created Diplomatic corps. This institution allowed monarchs to establish alliances with other states or kingdoms. Now the nobility had to obey the monarch. Their role became limited to attending the court and advising the monarch. However, these monarchs gradually centralized power by reducing the number of times they summoned parliaments

Context / Relation with its society V

  • Style: Renaissance
  • Location: National Gallery
  • Type of painting: Portrait
  • Matterials and support:
  • Technique: Oil in oak
  • Colors: Polichrome

Formal aspects

  • Author: Hans Holbein the Younger
  • Year: 1553
  • Size: 207 cm · 209.5 cm

General aspects

2. The ambassadors

2. The ambassadors

We can know the age of Dinteville when this was painted: Latin inscriptions on the scabbard of Dinteville’s sword reveals that he is 28

Hans Holbein the Younger was a German and Swiss painter, engraver and printer who falls within the style called the Nordic Renaissance. He is best known as one of the masters of 16th-century portraiture. He also produced religious art, satire and reformist propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history of book design.

We can know the age of Georges when this was painted:The edge of the book on which Georges is leaning reveal the following: ‘aetatis suae 25’, meaning ‘he is in his 25th year’.

The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London, England. Founded in 1824, in Trafalgar Square since 1838, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.[note 1] The current Director of the National Gallery is Gabriele Finaldi.

The top shelf shows instruments used to measure time, altitude and the position of the stars and other celestial bodies. On the far left is a celestial globe, mapping the position of stars and planets; the multi-faceted box-like object with dials on each face is called a polyhedral dial, a type of sundial. Technical instruments like this were extremely precious, and their inclusion also shows off the men’s understanding of mathematics and science.

The lower shelf is devoted mainly to music and one of the strings is broken. Under the neck of the lute, resting on a set of flutes – one is missing. All of this suggests a lack of harmony. There is a book to the left is an arithmetic book, wedged open with a set square on the page relating to mathematical division. There is also a Lutheran hymn book. The hymns are ‘Come Holy Ghost’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’, which Georges may have wanted to include because they express Christian unity

Hidden at the top left of the picture is a crucifix. It might hint at Christian unity.

It is a distorted and elongated object that can only be seen properly if you look up at the painting from the bottom right corner. Viewed from there, the shape reveals itself to be a large skull. This skull is a reminder of the frailty of life.

Holbein has dated it beneath his signature (1533 ) on the marble floor behind the figure on the left.