After the Poster Festival I left Chaumont for Polisy. There is the chateau of Jean de Dinteville, the French king, France I’s ambassador to the London court of Henry VIII. He could have been dropped out of history a long-long time ago if it had not been for Hans Holbein Junior’s painting that immortalized his figure. The famous table of the London National Gallery, The Ambassadors was commissioned by Dinteville himself whose figure on the left appears to be more important than the other one on the right. This elegantly dressed young man whose energetic posture and self-confident look show that his optimism is honest and his dynamism is catching so they are not only for the elegance of courtiers recommended by count Castiglione’s well-known book all over Europe, Il Cortegiano. The painting is precisely dated by Holbein: April the 11th, 1533.
Also another painting commissioned by Jean de Dinteville was hunging face-to-face with The Ambassadors in the salon of Dinteville’s chateau in Polisy. Now it is in the New York Metropolitan Museum. The size is the same as The Ambassadors and its signature is IOANNAES HOLBEIN 1537, too. The title is Moses and Aaron before the Pharaoh. It shows the scene of the Old Testament where Aaron throws his staff and it becomes a snake when Moses and his brother ask the Pharaoh to let the Jews free (Exodus 7, 8-12). The main characters of the so-called “acting“ picture are well-recognizable since their names are painted on their garments: Moses is Dinteville, the melancholic ambassador of Holbein’s other painting, Aaron is displaced by Francois Dinteville, the brother of the latter and bishop of Auxerre. Behind them Guillaume and Gaucher are standing. The fifth figure of the painting, the one with a melancholic face and moustache, may be the evoked character the fifth Dintville brother, Louis, who was not alive in 1537 when the painting was dated. Holbein himself also appears in his painting: he stands at the left side, as a fairly covered staffage-figure, only his face is visible and it seems as he is seeking eye contact with the viewers, he has a calm look like every painter who turns up in his own picture pointing out his outsider feature. However, Holbein usually did not paint himself into his pictures. He did not do it this time either since it is surely not his work. The quality of the painting falls behind the German’s. Seeking Dinteville’s secret, it has to be found out that who and why did he asked for this “Holbein-like” painting. For what purpose did he find it important to depict the painter’s portrait apart from his signature on a fake painting? If I could arouse your interest, please see more details about the secret of the paintigs, the hidden anamorphosis of The Ambassadors, the chateau of Polisy in the Hungarian blog: http://utisz-utisz.blogspot.com/ (Look for the note of May 19) or read my book: A követ és a fáraó. (Typotex Publishing House, Budapest).