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Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543)

William Reskimer (d.1552) c.1532-4

RCIN 912237

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A portrait drawing of William Reskimer (d.1552). A bust length portrait in profile to the left. A preparatory study for the painted portrait of Reskimer in the Royal Collection (RCIN 404422). Inscribed in an eighteenth-century hand at upper left and right: Reskemeer a Cornish...Gent:.

William Reskimer (d.1552), who came from Cornwall, as the later inscription on the drawing records, held a number of minor positions at Henry VIII's court, among them Page of the Chamber. In 1543 he was granted keepership of the ports of the Duchy of Cornwall and in 1546 was appointed Gentleman Usher. The sitter has been identified as William rather than his brother John (who also held positions at court) due to the provenance of the painted portrait of the sitter (also in the Royal Collection), which was presented to Charles I by Sir Robert Killigrew, a direct descendant of William.

This drawing is on the type of paper that Holbein favoured on his return to England in 1532: these are smaller than those he used in the 1520s and have been prepared with a pink ground before being used. A comparison of drawing and painting shows just how closely Holbein followed the former: the painting deviates only marginally in the contour of the inside of the earlobe, and even such details as the fine lines around Reskimer's eyes and the shadows on his cheeks follow the original drawing. The drawing was probably transferred to the panel by tracing the outlines with a stylus.

Catalogue entry adapted from The Northern Renaissance. Dürer to Holbein, London 2011