Hans Holbein is a very famous painter. He was born in Augsburg in Germany in 1497. His father was also a painter and was also called Hans so for this reason our Hans Holbein was called Hans Holbein the Younger. Hans was probably taught how to paint by his father. However he soon moved to Basel in Switzerland, which was an important centre for the study of the arts and sciences, to set up a painting studio. In Basel Holbein did many different types of art and painting, such as works for churches, murals on city buildings, portraits of important people and illustrations for books. One of the important people he painted was Erasmus - a famous scholar.
In 1526 Holbein moved to England to try to get work, taking with him a reference from Erasmus. The first pictures he painted were of German merchants in London. Later he was appointed as Henry VIII's official royal painter and he painted many pictures of people in the royal court. Holbein had several connections with mathematicians. He was a friend of Nicholas Kratzer, Henry VIII's astrologer and mathematical instrument maker. He also did book illustrations for several mathematical books. Many of his paintings used the technique of linear perspective, which was a mathematical technique that artists used to make their pictures look more real. Holbein's most famous painting - the Ambassadors in the National Gallery in London - uses linear perspective in the way it is painted, especially in the distorted skull in the front of the picture, which can only been seen properly when viewed from the side. As well as using maths to paint the Ambassadors Holbein also included many mathematical instruments in the painting, such as the sundials, compasses and globes.