Hans Holbein painted a portrait of Georg Gisze, a member of the Hanseatic League stationed in London until 1535. The painting depicts Gisze holding a letter opener and surrounded by symbols of his trade, including an inkwell and quill. He is also shown with carnations, symbolizing his engagement at the time. The plaque over his head identifies him and states that it was painted in his 34th year in 1532.
This painting is part of a series of portraits that Holbein made for wealthy Hanseatic merchants. It is considered a masterpiece of Northern Renaissance art because of its attention to detail and the clear depiction of Gisze’s character. Holbein was known for his ability to capture the essence of his subjects, and he did so brilliantly with this portrait.
Gisze married Christine Kruger in Danzig in 1535, shortly after he left London. It is believed that this portrait was commissioned in anticipation of their marriage as some have suggested that it may have been intended as parting gift from friends or colleagues in England. Regardless of its origin, the portrait remains an important piece that showcases both Holbein’s artistic talent and Gisze’s status as a prominent figure during the Hanseatic period.