The Frick Collection offered the public a unique opportunity to view two miniatures by the German artist Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98–1543) representing Margaret and William Roper, members of Sir Thomas More's family. The round watercolor miniatures on vellum were placed in the Living Hall beneath The Frick Collection's oil portrait of Sir Thomas More by Holbein. The miniatures were generously placed on long-term loan at The Frick Collection by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In this week’s episode of “Cocktails with a Curator,” Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, examines one of the Frick’s most beloved paintings, Hans Holbein’s “Sir Thomas More.” Xavier considers More's relationship to humanist circles and the role of "friendship portraits" in making the absent present. In the words of More's devoted friend, Desiderius Erasmus, “life without a friend is no life." As a nod to the turbulent times of Tudor England, Xavier pairs this episode with a Bloody Mary cocktail.
Hans Holbein came to London from Switzerland in 1526, only a year before he dated this portrait. With a letter of introduction from the philosopher Erasmus, Holbein entered the rarefied circle of Sir Thomas More (1477/78-1535) and was soon living near him in Chelsea. More, in a letter back to Erasmus, spoke of Holbein as "a wonderful artist." Famed as a humanist scholar and author of the Utopia, More was a powerful statesman as well. By this time, he had already served Henry VIII as privy councillor for over a decade and became his lord chancellor in 1529.