Modern Art Monday Presents: Hans Holbein, Terminus, Device of Erasmus

terminus device of erasmus photo by gail worley
Photo by Gail

In this painting, Terminus, Device of Erasmus (1532) Hans Holbein the Younger combined Erasmus‘s portrait with his emblem, providing Terminus with Erasmus’s facial features. Seen through a stone opening, Erasmus/Terminus gazes across a featureless landscape. The golden disk behind his head represents divine radiance, underscoring the Christian meaning of the emblem for Erasmus: steadfast character and unwavering faith. This rare painting of a persona emblem by Holbein was probably intended to delight an admirer rather than to gratify Erasmus himself.  Concedo nvlli means “I yield no ground.”

Photographed in the Morgan Library and Museum in NYC.

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