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Title:Margaret Roper (Margaret More, 1505–1544)
Artist:Hans Holbein the Younger (German, Augsburg 1497/98–1543 London)
Medium:Vellum laid on playing card
Dimensions:Diameter 1 3/4 in. (45 mm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1950
Margaret was the eldest child and favorite daughter of Sir Thomas More. She married William Roper (50.69.1) in 1521. She was born about October 1505, and the age assigned to her in the artist's inscription indicates that this miniature was painted in 1535–36, shortly after her father's execution. She is one of the ten figures in The Family of Sir Thomas More, a painting on which Holbein worked from 1526 to 1528. In that representation she also reads a book, showing her dedication to learning. The painting of the family group is lost and is known only from Holbein's drawing in the Offentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel, and from later copies by Rowland Lockey (died 1616); one of those copies was probably painted for William and Margaret Roper's son Thomas about 1593. In the eighteenth century it was still in the family house, Well Hall, Eltham, Kent (Rowlands 1985, no. L.10(a)).
[2015; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
The miniature is in very good condition except for two small losses near the bottom edge and some blackening of the white lead of the garment and headdress. Gold is used for the finger rings and the brooch, for highlights on the collar and headdress, and for the fore-edge of the book. Under magnification it can be seen that the brooch is decorated with a full-length figure.
[2015; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Inscription: Inscribed (horizontally, in gold): Ao ÆTATIS XXXo
by descent in the Roper family; Baron Alfred Charles de Rothschild, London and Halton, England (by 1906–d. 1918); his daughter, Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, London and Bretby Park, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire (1918–24; sold to Duveen); [Duveen, London, 1924–28; given to Goldman]; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Goldman, New York (1928–his d. 1937); Mrs. Henry Goldman, New York (1937–48; given or sold to Duveen); [Duveen, New York, 1948–50; sold to The Met]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Four Centuries of Miniature Painting," January 19–March 19, 1950, unnumbered cat. (p. 2, lent anonymously).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "German Drawings: Masterpieces from Five Centuries," May 10–June 10, 1956, suppl. no. 200 (with MMA 50.69.1).
London. National Portrait Gallery. "'The King's Good Servant': Sir Thomas More, 1477/8–1535," November 25, 1977–March 12, 1978, no. 174 (with MMA 50.69.1).
New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "Holbein and the Court of Henry VIII," April 21–July 30, 1983, no. 3.
London. Victoria and Albert Museum. "Artists of the Tudor Court: The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered, 1520–1620," July 9–November 6, 1983, no. 28.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 5.
London. Victoria and Albert Museum. "Gothic: Art for England, 1400–1547," October 9, 2003–January 18, 2004, no. 163b.
London. Tate Britain. "Holbein in England," September 28, 2006–January 7, 2007, no. 38.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "In Miniature," August 29–December 28, 2014, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England," October 10, 2022–January 8, 2023, no. 88.
Cleveland Museum of Art. "The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England," February 26–May 14, 2023, no. 88.
H. C. Marillier. "Christie's" 1766 to 1925. London, 1926, p. 225.
Paul Ganz. Die Handzeichnungen Hans Holbeins d.J.: Kritischer Katalog. Berlin, 1937, p. 21, under no. 93, erroneously as in the Duveen collection; identifies the sitters in this and MMA 50.69.1 as Margaret More and William Roper.
Paul Ganz. Letter. March 31, 1948, as "very good quality" works by Holbein.
Paul Ganz. The Paintings of Hans Holbein. London, 1950, p. 258, no. 135, pl. 176, erroneously as in the collection of Mrs. Henry Goldman.
F. Grossmann. "Holbein Studies—II." Burlington Magazine 93 (April 1951), p. 114.
Josephine L. Allen. "Some Notes on Miniatures." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 13 (April 1955), pp. 244–45, ill.
E. E. Reynolds. Margaret Roper, Eldest Daughter of St. Thomas More. New York, 1960, pp. 30, 142, pl. V.
Leo R. Schidlof. The Miniature in Europe in the 16th, 17th, 18, and 19th Centuries. Graz, Austria, 1964, vol. 1, p. 368; vol. 2, p. 975; vol. 3, pl. 290, fig. 569a.
Roy Strong. Tudor & Jacobean Portraits. London, 1969, vol. 1, p. 269, states that the portraits are by Holbein but that the identities of the sitters "remain unproven".
J. B. Trapp and Hubertus Schulte Herbrüggen. "The King's Good Servant": Sir Thomas More, 1477/8–1535. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. London, 1977, pp. 87, 89, no. 174 (with MMA 50.69.1), ill.
Jane Roberts. Holbein. London, 1979, p. 96, no. 92, ill. p. 97, believes it impossible to date the pair of miniatures precisely, and notes that they are "tentatively attributed to Holbein by most scholars, but the hand seems slightly different to that seen in the artist's other miniatures".
Daphne Foskett. Collecting Miniatures. Woodbridge, England, 1979, p. 47, as recently added to the list of "possibly authentic" miniatures by Holbein.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 263, 266, fig. 476 (color, with 50.69.1).
Roy Strong inThe English Miniature. Exh. cat., Yale Center for British Art, Yale University. New Haven, 1981, p. 36, fig. 52.
Roy Strong inArtists of the Tudor Court: The Portrait Miniature Rediscovered, 1520–1620. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1983, pp. 46–47, no. 28.
Roy Strong. The English Renaissance Miniature. New York, 1983, pp. 46–47, no. 4, fig. 43.
John Rowlands. Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger. Oxford, 1985, pp. 90, 150, no. M. 3, pl. 128, dates the miniatures probably 1536 on the basis of the inscription on the portrait of Margaret.
Graham Reynolds. English Portrait Miniatures. rev. ed. [1st ed., 1952]. Cambridge, 1988, p. 6.
John Rowlands. The Age of Dürer and Holbein: German Drawings, 1400–1550. Exh. cat.Cambridge, 1988, p. 234.
Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 12, 14, 69–70, no. 5, colorpl. 5 and ill. p. 69.
Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), pp. 6–7, ill. (color).
Susan Foister inGothic: Art for England, 1400–1547. Ed. Richard Marks and Paul Williamson. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003, p. 299, no. 163b, ill (color), believes that the likeness of Margaret is based on a separate sitting, after Holbein produced the life-size painting of the family of Sir Thomas More (1526–28) and after her father's execution.
Susan Foister. Holbein and England. New Haven, 2004, p. 98.
Susan Foister. Holbein in England. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2006, pp. 41, 46, 175, no. 38, ill. (color).
Elania Pieragostini inRenaissance Watercolours: From Dürer to Van Dyck. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2020, p. 163, fig. 45 (color).
Mark Evans. Renaissance Watercolours: From Dürer to Van Dyck. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2020, pp. 162, 239 n. 98.
Adam Eaker inThe Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England. Ed. Elizabeth Cleland and Adam Eaker. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2022, pp. 206, 210, 214, 221–23, no. 88, ill. (color).
This is an early-twentieth-century frame in the Renaissance style similar to that for its pendant (MMA 50.69.1), which has a circular card loosely inserted in the frame at the reverse of the miniature inscribed in pencil Ernest Adolph Malschinger / 219 Gaisford St / Kentish Town / NW / London / June 3rd 1907 (presumably the name and address of the jeweler who made the frames for both miniatures when they were owned by Alfred de Rothschild).
Victoria Button, senior paper conservator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, discusses a selection of European miniature portraits in The Met collection that she worked with during a one-month exchange program between the two institutions this spring.
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